I was so happy to have my dad back in my life. But then my boyfriend did something that had devastating consequences for us all…
By Tifani Womersley, 29, from Bradford
Clutching the pregnancy test firmly in my hand, my eyes brimmed with tears as my gaze fell on two pink lines.
I didn’t dare take my eyes of them as I called on David, 35, to join me. I was too scared the result would change if I looked away.
‘You’re going to be a daddy,’ I revealed when my partner David appeared at the bathroom doorway. I reached out and showed him the stick.
A grin spread over his face. ‘We did it,’ he smiled, scooping me up into his arms. ‘From now on everything I do is for you and our baby.’ He patted me lightly on the belly. ‘I’m going to be the best dad in the world,’ he added.
I blinked away the tears and held David tight. His words were extra-poignant to me considering my dad Ross had been largely absent in my life.
He’d had a tumultuous relationship with Mum and walked out on us when I was a baby. My first memory of my dad was when I was 14-years-old.
‘I want us to be the perfect family,’ I gushed to David, as we marvelled over the home pregnancy test. ‘I want our baby to have everything that I never had.’
I knew David would deliver on his promises. He wasn’t perfect but he was my soulmate.
I’d fallen head over heels for him when we were introduced by a family friend in 2005.
Although David struggled with mental health issues, and even spent a spell in hospital after a failed suicide bid, he was the perfect partner to me.
Together, we eagerly started counting down the days to our new arrival.
Then, when I was five months gone, I was walking down my street when I saw someone who resembled my dad, Ross.
I did a double-take. It was him. I nearly walked on by but he stopped me.
‘I heard you were pregnant,’ Dad said. He was met with stony silence.
‘As soon as I found out I wanted to see you,’ he added.
I tried to choke back the tears. I was hearing this 20 years too late.
‘I know I don’t deserve another chance but if you’re willing to forgive me, I want to make up for lost time.’
With my baby hormones in full working order, I was a cauldron of emotions. But although I was angry, in truth, I was over the moon to have a second chance to get to know my dad.
I was about to become a parent myself and for the sake of my family, I decided to let bygones be bygones.
I invited him for a cup of tea and together we began to fill in the blanks of our pasts.
Thankfully we connected instantly and Dad got on like a house on fire with David too.
Heavily pregnant, I’d put my feet up for a night in front of the TV, while the two of them would disappear to the pub together.
Everything was falling into place and I couldn’t have been happier when I gave birth to our beautiful daughter, Kaycee-Leigh, in October 2007.
But one thing was amiss. David’s behaviour was worrying me.
‘Your dad’s bullying me,’ David said one night as he nervously paced around the living room like an animal in a cage.
‘Don’t be silly,’ I assured him, tightening my grip of the little bundle in my arms. ‘My dad thinks the world of you.’ But despite trying to defuse the situation, David became increasingly agitated.
Why is he acting so paranoid? I thought.
When he started raising his fists, I knew I had to call time on our relationship.
With a heavy heart, I sent David a message a couple of months later to tell him it was over.
‘Sorry, you can’t see us anymore,’ I typed. I had our precious little girl to think of now, I couldn’t risk anything happening to her and the truth was, I was terrified of David.
I just didn’t know what he was capable of.
The next night I found out, when the phone rang.
‘It’s David,’ my aunt sobbed through her tears. ‘He’s killed your dad.’
I started to shake. ‘No!’ I screeched. They had to be wrong. I’d only just got him back.
I was convinced it was some sort of cruel joke but when I realised the sickening truth, I let out a haunting scream. I didn’t want to believe it.
Police later caught David after officers hid in Mum’s car and drove to meet him in the early hours of the morning. He’d been eager to see me, despite knowing that he’d ruined my life.
The details of Dad’s death will haunt me forever. My poor dad had suffered 70 injuries, including four devastating blows to the head with a meat cleaver.
He’d been butchered by my boyfriend, came the realisation.
In July 2008, David and his brother John were jailed for life after slaughtering Dad with a meatcleaver and a carving knife.
At their sentencing at Bradford Crown Court, Judge Gullick said it was ‘a particularly vicious and brutal murder’.
They’re behind bars now but I’ve been left with a life sentence too.
I haven’t even visited Dad’s grave yet, it’s just too painful. I like to pretend that he’s alive living the life he was before he came back into my life. It’s easier that way.
I loved David, he’s the father of my daughter – and yet he cruelly snatched my father away from me, just as I was getting to know him again. For that, I’ll never forgive the brutal butcher.
The Honorary Recorder of Bradford, Judge Stephen Gullick, said the pair “jointly and ferociously” attacked Mr Keenan. Judge Gullick said it was “a particularly vicious and brutal murder”. He thanked Detective Sergeant Paul Whiteley, of West Yorkshire Police’s Homicide and Major Enquiry Team, for his hard work on a difficult case.