‘Alright love, I’ll be five minutes,’ he replied, tinkering in his shed.
If my dad, Gary, 43, a mechanic, wasn’t working on a car, or helping out a mate, he was fixing something in the house we shared with my grandma Jeanette.
Around our little town, Mundubbera in Queensland, his nickname was Mr Fixit! He called me Chatterbox.
Dad was my best mate.
Ever since my mother Marilyn left when I was a baby, it’d just been us and Grandma.
They’d given me the world.
When I was 14 though, I began to get curious about my mum, and went to live with her and her partner Mark Crump in Orange, NSW.
It was great to get to know my two little half-siblings and my mother.
But I didn’t like Mark.
‘I miss you,’ I told Dad all the time.
Just after my 15th birthday, I was back where I belonged − with Dad and Grandma.
Still, I knew Marilyn was trying to get custody of me.
I’d been home for a couple of months, when I woke up feeling sick one day and couldn’t go to school.
Fetching me a juice, Dad put the fan on in my room and left me to rest while he went to work in the shed.
Having drifted off, I was jolted awake by a piercing scream.
‘Amie,’ Grandma yelled. ‘Call Triple-0. Dad’s hurt himself!’
Still in my PJs, I jumped out of bed. Finding Dad and Grandma in the tiny toilet next to the shed, I saw the most horrific thing.
My kind, loving Dad was slumped on the floor, in a pool of his own blood.
There were savage wounds in his head and neck.
Dialling Triple-0, I frantically ran next door to find help.
Then, as I was sprinting back to Dad, I spotted a small knife and a deadly looking samurai sword outside the shed.
My dad had been stabbed repeatedly...
He’s going to pull through, he’s tough, I steeled myself, trying to stay strong.
Dad was fighting to stay alive, but I could see him slowly slipping away.
‘Dad, I love you,’ I choked out.
He was rushed to hospital, but Dad died of his horrific injuries soon after. He’d been stabbed 59 times.
I’d never see his goofy grin again.
Who could do this to my loving dad? I thought.
It turned out, that morning while I was in bed, Grandma had made Dad a cuppa up at the house when he spotted a bloke outside.
‘I’ll go and see what this strange looking man wants,’ he’d said.
When he didn’t return, Grandma went looking for him, and walked into her worst nightmare.
‘Who did this to you, son?’ Grandma had asked Dad.
‘I’m dying, Mum,’ he’d said.
Our hearts were broken.
‘Dad’s passed away,’ I told my mother Marilyn on the phone.
‘Really?’ she said.
But as I hung up, a thought niggled away at me.
She didn’t sound that shocked...
The next week, Marilyn’s partner Mark was arrested for Dad’s murder, along with his friend Trevor Spencer.
When I heard my mother Marilyn had also been charged with Dad’s murder it was the ultimate betrayal.
How could she?
Within weeks, Marilyn and Mark’s friend Jessica Roebuck was arrested on the same charge.
Without Dad, I felt broken, lost and alone.
In the more than three years it took for the case to go to court, I got my driver’s licence, graduated from school and turned 18 − all without my beloved dad.
Finally, Mark Stephen Crump, 38, admitted murder, while Trevor Spencer, 73, pleaded not guilty. It took the jury less than a day to convict him.
Last November, the pair appeared at Brisbane Supreme Court for sentencing.
The court heard they had planned the attack for weeks, bought weapons, then drove 1000km from Orange, NSW, to stake out our property.
The next day, they had lured Dad to the outdoor toilet by the shed while Grandma waited inside.
‘You repeatedly stabbed him in the most callous and brutal manner,’ Justice Martin Burns said. ‘He was a good and decent man but neither of you showed him any decency.’
The pair were sentenced to life in prison.
The next day, the court heard that my mother, Marilyn Ann Ryan, 39, and Jessica Lee Roebuck, 22, had helped Mark prepare for his journey to our place. They’d also lied to police and provided Mark with an alibi.
Apparently, they’d thought the plan was to simply threaten Dad over the custody battle.
After pleading guilty to manslaughter, Marilyn and Jessica were sentenced to eight and six years’ jail respectively.
With time served, they were both eligible for parole immediately.
She can’t even look at me, I thought, absolutely disgusted with Marilyn.
I’d written her a letter, which was passed to her.
You do not deserve the title of mother... I wrote.
I can never forgive her.
I miss Dad desperately, but still talk to him all the time.
‘I hope you’re watching over me,’ I’ll say.
‘He’d be so proud of you,’ Grandma tells me.