‘Dad’s trying to kill me!’ I couldn’t save my girl
My daughter’s desperate 999 call will haunt me for life Kiera Smith, 35
Once in a while, his temper got the better of him...
Waddling behind the bar, my back ached and my feet throbbed.
Seven months pregnant with my second child, I was ready for my shift pulling pints to end.
But then a familiar face appeared and all my aches melted away.
‘Come sit down for a minute,’ he smiled, pulling out a chair.
‘Thanks, love,’ I said, easing myself down.
It was 2002, and Daniel and I worked for the same rivercruise company.
He was a captain, and I was working behind the bar.
I was single but already pregnant when we’d met that summer, so I hadn’t expected romance to blossom.
But now it had, everything was slotting into place.
Daniel looked after me and doted on my 18-month-old daughter Holly, treating her to ice cream at the park.
And when baby Sophie arrived in August 2002, Daniel was a godsend.
We went from strength to strength, our little boy Jack arriving in August 2004, then twins Emma and Ben in February 2010.
Daniel was a loving, fun dad, taking the kids to theme parks or running around the garden with them. Life plodded along. Except... Once in a while, Daniel’s temper got the better of him.
He’d shout and swear, scare us all.
Sadly, over time, it got worse.
And by August 2015, he was no longer the same man I’d fallen in love with.
‘It’s over,’ I told Daniel.
‘Fine,’ he huffed, storming out.
We kept it civil for the kids’ sake, and he messaged them every day.
In November that year, Daniel came by, demanding to see Jack. His anger was out of control.
I said, ‘You need to calm down first.’ Daniel glared at me silently. Then he shoved me inside the house, held a knife to my throat and grabbed my necklace, a silver cross.
‘God’s not going to help you now,’ he snarled, ripping it off.
Pinned against the wall, I was petrified.
Luckily, somebody called the police and Daniel was arrested.
At the Magistrates Court, Daniel Dare, 37, was given a restraining order.
Breathing a sigh of relief, I hoped this would be the fresh start the kids and I desperately needed. Daniel had other ideas. Desperate to win me back, he sneaked into my house at night and did all of the washing-up and cleaning.
He reckoned it was like that fairytale about the elves and the shoemaker.
But I wasn’t impressed.
‘You need to stop coming over,’ I warned. He just shrugged, and mumbled, ‘It’s my house.’
It was only when I started dating someone else that Daniel finally got the message.
He kept in touch with the kids – and despite his faults, they missed him lots. I didn’t have the heart to stop them seeing him.
But on the evening of 14 August 2017, Daniel came back to the house.
‘Can I stay here tonight?’ he asked me.
‘No, go to a hotel or your parents,’ I said firmly, hoping that would be the end of it.
But at 1am, Sophie, 13, came into my bedroom, visibly shaken.
‘It’s Daniel,’ she whispered. ‘He’s outside again.’
‘What does he want now?’ I groaned.
Standing at the door, Daniel demanded cash for the birthday present he’d bought for Jack weeks earlier.
I thought he was being ridiculous, but I handed over the cash, closed the door and went back to bed. Only... A couple of
I looked on in horror as he pulled out his lighter
hours later, I awoke with a start.
There was a heavy pounding sound coming from downstairs.
Rushing down, I glimpsed a shadow through the window in the door and stifled a scream.
It was Daniel, and he was smashing his way into the house with a sledgehammer. Like something from a horror film!
I froze in terror when I spotted the petrol canister in his hand.
‘Are you going to let me stay now?’ he growled through the splintered wood.
Though my legs were shaking, I yelled, ‘You’re not staying!’
With that, Daniel backed away...only to pour petrol all over my brother’s boat in the drive.
My heart was hammering as the pungent smell of petrol fumes came wafting through the broken door. One wrong move, and we’ll all go up in flames. I charged upstairs, grabbing Jack, Emma and Ben, while Sophie dialled 999. Holly wasn’t home that night.
‘My dad’s tipping petrol all over the house and trying to kill me and my mum,’ Sophie screamed into the phone.
Bundling Jack, Emma and Ben downstairs, we raced out the back door, into the garden. Daniel had burst through the front door, and now he barged towards us.
‘Who’s she on the phone to?’ he bellowed, pointing at Sophie.
Then he took the petrol can and tipped it all over himself.
The kids were terrified, screaming.
Then I looked on in horror as Daniel put a cigarette in his mouth, and pulled a lighter out of his pocket...
‘I’m going to give you a show,’ he sneered.
The world seemed to slow down as he went to light his fag.
I could see it unfolding. A spark, a flame,
and an inferno...
Our home snatched away, our lives gone.
And there was nothing I could do to stop it.
Just then, sirens blared outside...the police. In the nick of time!
Daniel dropped the petrol can and clambered over the garden fence.
The four of us collapsed into a heap, sobbing as the police burst into the garden.
We were escorted to the police station – and two hours later, there was news.
While we’d been giving our statements, Daniel had been arrested at my house.
‘Thank God,’ I sighed, pulling the kids closer.
In June this year, Daniel Dare, 40, was sentenced to six years in prison for threatening to kill and threatening to damage or destroy property.
He was also given a new restraining order, which prevented him from having any contact with me or the children for 10 years.
Giving evidence from behind a screen at the trial wasn’t easy, but it was worth it to keep my family safe.
Sophie and Jack bravely testified via video link, too.
As proud as I was of them, I was furious that Daniel was putting them through it. I still am. I’m still suffering from some depression and anxiety as a result of the ordeal.
I worry that I’ll be haunted by the fear in Sophie’s voice on that 999 call for all time.
He smashed his way in with this sledgehammer