Sweet Lincoln – killed for not looking like his stepdad

His mum thought her boy was in safe hands

New Zealander Isabell* felt like the luckiest girl in the world when she met a man who wanted to care for her and her baby.

But one day her world came crashing down when she found out her baby had died.

She tells her story in her own words…

Staring at the two pink lines in front of me, I was frozen in shock. At 22, I’d only been with my partner for two months and I was in the middle of an apprenticeship.

Sadly, after breaking the news to the father, it wasn’t long before we  broke up. But remaining positive, I was determined to give my bub the best life possible.

Then, when I was 14 weeks pregnant, I was home one day with the flu and decided to try my luck at online dating.

That’s when I stumbled across Will’s profile.

A business owner and father, he seemed like the perfect catch. Messaging him, we bonded over a love of movies and tattoos.

When I admitted I was pregnant, it didn’t seem to worry him. I’ve got a little girl, he said.

Before long, our texts turned into nightly calls and we arranged to meet. Chatting over dinner, I enjoyed Will’s company, and over the next few weeks, he showered me with gifts.

Soon, I was staying at Will’s house almost every night and then I moved in. When I found out I was expecting a boy at my 20-week scan, Will was over the moon.

‘I’m going to have a son,’ he said.

Then, on my birthday, he asked me to be his wife. ‘I want to raise this baby as my own,’ he vowed. ‘Yes!’ I cried.

I’ve finally got my happily ever after, I thought, content. Deciding on the name Lincoln, we couldn’t wait for our future as a family.

‘I wonder if he’ll have my eyes,’ I said one day. ‘Don’t say that,’ Will snapped back, upset Lincoln wouldn’t look like him.

After I went on maternity leave in December 2017, Will convinced me to deposit my parenting payments into his bank account. ‘If you need anything you just have to ask,’ he assured me.

Despite his mood swings, Will was by my side when Lincoln came into the world a month later.

Will was by my side when Lincoln came into the world a month later (Credit: Supplied)

‘He’s perfect,’ he smiled.

Adjusting to life with a newborn was hard, but Will was always there, eager to lend a hand.

Lincoln was a happy baby, always laughing and giggling. But as time passed Will became more possessive. ‘You’re spending too much on formula,’ he said.

Then Will encouraged me to go back to work just four months after giving birth, saying he would look after Lincoln. ‘As I’m not his biological dad we need to bond,’ he said.

Although I started to feel trapped, I reasoned he was just doing his best by us.

But when Lincoln was five months old, I received a shocking call from Will. ‘Lincoln’s not breathing,’ he sobbed. ‘I don’t know what to do.’ ‘Call an ambulance!’ I cried down the phone.

I raced to meet them at the hospital, where a doctor revealed they’d found a bleed on Lincoln’s brain and he needed an operation. ‘Lincoln might not survive the night,’ warned the doctor.

Devastated, I couldn’t understand how this had happened.

Desperate to hold my baby, it felt like an eternity before I was allowed to see him. Nothing could have prepared me for seeing his tiny body snaked with wires.

Rushing to his side, I placed a tender kiss on his forehead. ‘We have to be strong for our boy,’ Will choked.

Then came some news that was like a knife to my heart. ‘I’m afraid he’s losing his fight,’ said the doctor.

As I held Lincoln’s little hand in mine, his life support was switched off. ‘Mummy loves you,’ I told him.

The doctor told me he was losing his fight (Credit: Supplied)

Suspicious of my boy’s injuries, the doctors had contacted police.

Taken to the station, Will was interviewed for over two hours, before we were questioned together. Then when the police left the room, Will made a horrifying confession.

He said he’d bathed Lincoln earlier that day and my boy had slipped out of his hands and hit his head on the bath before landing on the floor. ‘I don’t want to lose you,’ he cried. Crushed, I couldn’t even speak and was whisked away by an officer.

Later that night, police came to see me at my parents’ house. Will had given a full confession, admitting that really he’d shaken Lincoln multiple times that day. He’d also hit the back of my baby’s head several weeks earlier. He told police that he loved my boy but resented him as Lincoln didn’t look like him. ‘I just wanted to hurt him until he wasn’t there,’ he told officers.

I had left Lincoln in Will’s care, trusting my baby would be looked after. But instead he’d betrayed us in the worst possible way. I was distraught.

Now I’d never get to watch my sweet boy grow up.

In June this year, William Martin Wakefield, 32, appeared in Wellington’s High Court where he pleaded guilty to manslaughter. But after hearing that he deliberately shook my boy, the jury convicted him of  murder.

He was sentenced to life in prison, with a minimum of 14 years and nine months.

‘He was utterly defenceless and completely dependent on your basic humanity to treat him kindly…’ the judge said. ‘He was completely at your mercy.’

My beautiful Lincoln was only five months old.

Although nothing will bring Lincoln back, I’m glad that justice has been served.

In July this year, I welcomed a baby girl. A ray of light at the end of a very dark tunnel, I feel like she has saved me.

When my girl is old enough, I’ll tell her all about her big brother. He will live forever in our hearts.

*Name changed for legal reasons.

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