I had a crush on Carey from the moment I saw him. He was a family friend who was tall and handsome and two years older than me. I figured I never stood a chance.
It wasn’t until my step-father’s birthday, when I was 20, that we spoke.
I was seven months pregnant from a former relationship and had a daughter, Faith, then four, who mostly lived with her dad but it didn’t seem to matter to Carey.
He talked to me for hours and then asked if I’d go on a date. Amazed he would be interested, I happily agreed.
From there, things moved quickly. When I welcomed my baby Christopher, Carey became a hands-on dad. I couldn’t believe my luck. I’d found the perfect gentleman who loved me and my child!
Just two months later, we were engaged and tied the knot two weeks after that.
Some people thought we were moving too fast, but I felt like I was floating in a dream. Life was perfect.
But when I fell pregnant again four months later, something changed.
One day, Carey turned on me and started calling me stupid, fat and ugly. Soon we were fighting constantly.
‘I’m going to drown you in a pond and no-one will ever find you!’ he once shouted.
I couldn’t believe the man I loved could be so cruel. When we welcomed a little boy Jesse, Carey didn’t seem to want to know our baby.
Things came to a head when Jesse was 14 months old. ‘You’ve left a load of books on the table!’ Carey yelled one day. ‘Clean them up!’
‘Don’t shout at me,’ I cried. ‘I have two toddlers here all day – I do my best.’
But suddenly Carey was throwing me to the floor.
I hit my head on the air-conditioning unit and then he smacked my head on the microwave. Terrified, I ran upstairs with the kids and locked us in the bedroom.
The next morning Carey acted as if nothing had happened. How could he?
Horrified, I went to the police and filed a restraining order against him. Then I took the boys to live with my mum Tammy.
Carey was devastated I was gone. He bombarded me with calls. ‘I’m so sorry,’ he said. ‘It’ll never happen again.’
He did seem genuinely mortified by what he’d done and after a few months he really seemed like a new man. That’s why I took him back.
It didn’t take me long to regret my decision...
Carey lost his job as a handyman, so I took on two jobs to make ends meet.
Then he started taking his temper out on me – just like before. He was never violent towards the kids, but I knew we had to leave.
Secretly I started saving money so we could escape...
Finally, in June 2012, I plucked up the courage to leave. I took the kids to live with a family friend until I could get back on my feet.
‘Don’t go,’ Carey begged. But this time I was firm.
We shared custody. He had the boys one week and I had them the next.
One day, in July 2012, Jesse, then three, was staying with his daddy. Christopher was meant to be there too, but he was with my mum instead.
When I called Carey to say goodnight to Jesse, I could tell straight away my ex was in an argumentative mood.
‘You’re a stupid b***h!’ he yelled. ‘I want you back, but you don’t want to know me.’
‘I’m not going to argue with you,’ I told Carey, hanging up. I never for a moment imagined what would happen next...
A few minutes later, Mum called. ‘Carey just called to say he’s going to kill himself and Jesse,’ she cried frantically.
Shaking, I hung up to call the police. But then Carey called me back on my mobile. ‘If you don’t come back to me, I’m going to kill Jesse and myself,’ he said. ‘I mean it.’
‘Don’t do anything stupid,’
I screamed. As a friend of mine spoke to emergency services, I tried to calm Carey down.
But suddenly my baby boy was on the phone. ‘Mummy, I’m going to die tonight,’ Jesse said, his little voice wavering.
Shaking uncontrollably, I screamed down the phone. ‘Jesse, I love you, it’ll be okay.’
But then there was a loud popping sound. No, no, no.
‘I’ve just killed Jesse and it’s your fault,’ Carey said.
I couldn’t believe this could be happening. Immediately, my friend drove me to the house, which was swarming with police and paramedics.
When I wasn’t allowed inside, I collapsed. ‘Please let him be okay,’ I sobbed. I felt like I was in a nightmare.
Soon, the police were driving me to the hospital where Jesse had been taken.
But as I entered, an officer took me aside. ‘I’m sorry but he didn’t make it,’ he said.
I felt as if I couldn’t breathe. My baby boy was gone. How could Carey have done this?
Finally, I was able to see Jesse. ‘I love you so much,’ I told him, as he lay at peace in my arms. I’d never hear his laugh or see his smile again.
As I went home, all I had left of him was his blue teddy the police had given me.
They revealed Carey, then 34, had killed himself minutes after shooting our son.
‘Jesse and Daddy are in heaven,’ I told Christopher. But I couldn’t bring myself to say what Carey had done.
His last words still haunt me...
Since that awful night, we’ve both struggled to come to terms with the tragedy.
Christopher, now eight, kept Jesse’s toys and clothes, to feel close to his brother.
While I am still broken, I’m sharing Jesse’s story in the hope it saves just one child from his fate.
With Jesse gone, a piece of my heart and soul will always be missing. His last words still haunt me.
But I am determined to live a life he’d be proud of.