Carole - Interview 08

Age at interview: 59
Brief Outline: In November 2004 Carole's 23 year old son was murdered by an ex-girlfriend. He was stabbed. Carole was devastated. She has found most help via family and friends and by running. She has also had counselling, arranged via work, which has helped.
Background: Carole is an NHS employee. She is married and has 2 children (1 died). Ethnic background/nationality: White British.

More about me...

In November 2004 Carole’s 23 year old son was murdered by his ex-girlfriend. He was stabbed through the heart. At the time of his death he was living in a town some distance away from the family home.
The family was devastated by the news of what had happened. Carole’s 88 year old father was unwell and Carole was very worried when she had to break the terrible news to him.
After two post-mortems Carole’s son had a full Military funeral. This was because he had served in the Marines and had fought for his country. There was a very special service at the church and then a ceremony at the crematorium. Carole’s son’s ashes were scattered in his favourite climbing spots. There is a tree and a commemorative stone at the Military base.
There was an inquest, followed by the court case. The court case took place in October 2005. The jury could not reach a verdict so there was a re-trial. There was another judge for the re-trial, which took place in 2006. The woman who was on trial was found guilty of murder. She is now in prison. She has written a letter to the family but they do not want to see it.
Throughout this terrible time the Military and the police were very helpful, and the police liaison officer was very supportive. However, the press reporters were horrendous.
Carole felt desperately sad and was devastated after her son’s death but only really started to cry about two months later. Family members have supported each other. Carole rang Compassionate Friends but did not get a return call. She tried to find help via CRUSE but could not find a suitable counsellor and was told that there was a long waiting list. She has had counselling through work, which she has found helpful. However, she has not been able to find a counsellor who has had very much experience of helping others bereaved by murder. Carole could not get any help via Victim Support. She has been in touch with SAMM, Support after Murder and Manslaughter, and she has attended some of their meetings. She has found most help via her daily running. Carole will never forget the son she lost. His death has left a huge gap in her life.
Carole was interviewed in 2008.
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Carole's son was stabbed by his ex-girlfriend, who was jealous of a new relationship. A police...

I was working on November 30th and my line manager came and asked me to go into the office, there was a police officer wanting to speak to me and a WPC. I just felt sick, I said, “What has happened?” and in my mind I knew it was my son. I went into the office and it was a PC who I knew who was known to our family that, as a friend. And he just said, “I hate to break this news to you,” and he told us that our, well our son had been killed. Our son was at the other end of the country, he was in the forces, but the incident had nothing at all to do with the forces. I heard he’d been stabbed by a female and I knew straight away who it would be. It was an ex girl friend who was very jealous, who would not let him go, our son was at his happiest, he had a new girlfriend and everything was going very well for him, but he’d almost been stalked by this person. I knew my husband would be collecting me from work within about the next half hour so I explained this to the police. I just wanted to be in another world.
The police went outside to meet my husband and I was afraid what was going to happen when we told him. Anyway we told my husband and the reaction was as I anticipated. I rang my daughter from the office that I was in. How I was able to do that I don’t know but I just rang her and asked if she could go home, we just wanted to see her at home.
What was your husband’s reaction? You said it was as you anticipated.
He just went white, his head in his hands, and I think we stayed strong for each other, and knowing that we had our daughter. I think if it had just been me on my own I would have just, just collapsed. And legs just went to jelly, it was just surreal.
And we got home and our daughter came home and she knew straight away when she saw the police also. She did know the police officer, and my reaction then was how was I going to tell my father? My father was 88 years of age. Very, very close to our son. Our son had been at war. He’d written to him religiously as our son had written to him. And it was odd really because our son had spent a couple of hours with his granddad two days prior to this incident.
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Carole asked Cruse for counselling but they had no one at the time with experience of helping...

I went to see CRUSE, with our son’s girlfriend.
Did you have counselling with CRUSE?
No, and there was a waiting list, we were told of about three to six months. The particular person we spoke to hadn’t got experience of dealing with a traumatic death like ours. They said we could probably have a counsellor if you’ve had more than one death within the couple of years, I said, “Well I’ve now had five deaths within three years.” We ended up handing the box of tissues to the Cruse counsellor, and we then left. Cruse did contact me about six months afterwards.
Could the GP have arranged professional counselling for you?
I’d been to the GP and I said that we were, we were going to a counsellor and also with me been working for who I did, I did have access to a counsellor, but I think that they find, they cannot a counsellor who has actually been in the situation.
So from your perspective there’s a lack of suitably trained counsellors who are available?
Yes there’s counsellors that are available, but it’s unique, anybody who has lost anybody through murder, it’s very difficult. Counsellors may have lost people through road traffic accidents,
But when it comes to murder or manslaughter, and the same with Victim Support, the people, the staff that we’ve experienced that work for these organisations, have not been in the position of losing somebody through murder or manslaughter.
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Carole made friends via SAMM. She could talk openly to others who understood, but she felt those...

Did they [Victim Support] give you any written information about where you might find other help if you felt they couldn’t help you?
I have been given that by the police in the pack that you get, and they contacted SAMM, Support after Murder and Manslaughter, and in actual fact an office hadn’t been set up in my home town, but there was something in the pipeline. I then got a phone call from the person who was setting something up and a couple of months later I did go along to a meeting. And I felt I was with people that I could relate to and who could relate to myself, but it was more exchanging experience, the person who was actually running the group has got a good insight into a lot of things, even though the experience, his experience was twenty, well thirty odd years previous, and how things had changed. But it was, it, I felt in my comfort zone at the time. I could openly speak to people who understood.
What happened at the meeting? You had a chance to say what you wanted to say?
Yes. And then I’ve met a couple of good friends through that.
Have you been again? Do you go regularly?
I go regularly but at the moment… I think you could still go along and if there’s new people that come you feel that you can help and support them.
I’m not quite sure how, we need more, we need more going, or we need something else. Because a support group’s good but people might come once, they don’t come again. We are having a Memorial service which will be lovely, at the beginning of December, we had one last year, but the person that runs the local group his aim was to get a Memorial service in the city by Lives Cut Short through Murder and Manslaughter, and the first one was last year, and there is another one arranged for this year, and we had good support last year, because even though people don’t come to the group they were happy to come to the service. And hopefully this years service will be as well represented as last years was.
Do you get men coming to the group as well as women?
Not many, no.
So SAMM’s, they meet in somebody’s house?
No, they meet at the civic hall. It’s got to be on mutual ground, and not in anywhere where they sell alcohol because obviously some people who are distressed they might turn to drink, so there’s not temptation no. 
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Carole found comfort from attending church services. She also saw a spiritualist.

Have you got a particular religious belief that you’ve found helpful?
Well I’ve, it was strange really because when, both my children, our children went to the church school, and they used to always go to church when they were younger. And I’d go, and then as they got older it was the Methodist church or Church of England, and then I just found comfort in going to church, both the vicar from the Church of England gave a lovely service, and also the Chaplain from the Military, he spoke. And the Methodist Minister at the time, he was present at [our son’s] funeral, and everybody was so supportive from the church. It was quite amusing because the, the Chaplain from the Military, he’s Catholic, had the Methodist Minister and also the Anglican.
That was rather nice.
Yes, it was, very nice. Yes. I think we all had one belief and that’s the main thing. And I do go to church, and I do get comfort from that. There’s just the odd time that I can freeze and I sometimes think should I leave when they start speaking about forgiveness.
…but it depends in what context that’s being said, but sometimes I can feel myself freezing.
But no, I do believe and I’ve seen Spiritualists since then and I keep thinking, “Why keep going to spiritualists, because they’re not going to bring [our son] back.”
Do you believe he’s all around us?
Yes. Yes I do.
But sometimes a lot more than others, and it’s amazing different things that have happened, that people might see as silly, but they’ve been personal to me and it convinces me. 
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The defendant's legal team wanted a second post-mortem. The police had to press the legal team to...

How do you feel about the post mortem, did you, did you accept it had to happen?
The first time, but the second time no, it was just dragging it out, dragging their heels. The defendants’ barristers, they don’t think of people’s personal feelings I don’t think.
So who wanted this, who wanted the second post mortem?
Her legal team.
Did they have any grounds for that?
Not that I can remember, but they must have thought so.
Fortunately the Military, they made; the funeral arrangements were already made, tentatively, a couple of dates had been booked for after Christmas, it would be New Year. The police had pressured her legal team because they could see what upset it was causing us, but I don’t think it’s of any particular concern, it’s not a personal thing for them.
The military funeral it was so special because there was a guard of honour, as you walked up to the church. In church there were a couple of hundred of marines in uniform. They spoke about our son, in a way which was, they have a certain sense of humour and that came across, which was our son.
There was a flag over his coffin, the Union Jack; we still have the Union Jack, and his cap which was on the coffin, which we were presented with later, both the Union Jack and the cap. It was such a special funeral.
And what did make myself and my daughter, and husband smile, and some of the family, when we were going from the church to the crematorium it caused quite a big traffic jam, and we thought if our son was here, this is what he would love, how he stopped the traffic on a Friday afternoon. Our son had such a sense of humour. 
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Carole and her husband decided that they want only a yearly update about the woman who killed...

And as I say she was found guilty of murder, it’s not life imprisonment I think after nine years she can appeal, she’d already spent almost two years in prison. She did have a daughter who I think the grandparents took care of her. That was one of the sad things… and apparently she had written to us, but we don’t want to receive a letter from her.
From the, the woman who’s in prison?
Yes. I never wish to see it.
Who told you there was a letter, the police?
The probation officer, the probation in this city are in contact with us, she’s a very nice lady, and we can have as much contact or as little and we decided that just a yearly update [would be good] and we are written to, and then this time we had a phone call. She said, “I’d like to just touch base” as it were.
From this officer, this lady?
Yes, probation here, they speak to those who are in contact with the prison. 
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The military chose a funeral director who was sensitive and kind. Carole said he drove miles to...

He [the funeral director] was marvelous and compassionate. The Military chose him at, it was when they came to see us and they saw funeral directors round the corner and they asked if we had any preferences, and we said, “No”, because they sorted everything out, and he was a very, very good, very sensitive, because he had to drive a long way to collect our son, and he informed us of every move that was being made. And when he was brought back to our city, a family friend asked if they could see our son, and he [the funeral director] did advise him not to, because after this length of time, obviously it probably wasn’t wise, and yes he was very sensitive, and since then he has actually donated  a memorial book to SAMM. [Support after Murder and Manslaughter], for our memorial service, to have…
Oh that’s nice.
…something written in every year and that was from the funeral director that we had. But I just visited him to ask him if he knew where we could get a large memorial book, and he said, “I’d like to donate that.”
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