Dark side of Daddy

Once kind and loving, Justin was about to explode in a moments madness...

Published by: James Knock & Amy Thompson
Published on: 19th Januray 2011

Most people spend years working out what they want from life. Me? I’d known what I wanted from the moment I clapped eyes on Justin when I was 16. Seven years older than me, I didn’t think he’d give me a second look when we met through mutual friends. But he did.
When he asked me out, I was buzzing with excitement. And even Mum didn’t bat an eyelid at the age difference. ‘Justin Faircloth?’ she’d smiled when I broke the news to her that we were dating.
‘I used to go to school with his mum. He’s a nice lad.’
I started college while Justin worked as a labourer, and our relationship went from strength to strength. He’d take me out for dinner, shower me with compliments… I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him.
Just a year after we got together, he proposed with a gorgeous topaz ring, and we moved into our own flat. A year after that, we started trying for a baby, and we were thrilled when I’d fallen pregnant with our daughter Ruby. What a difference each new year had made.
‘She’s gorgeous,’ Justin had beamed proudly, as he’d held Ruby for the first time. ‘I don’t want to put her down.’
Justin was a great dad. He’d been so close to his own father while growing up but, sadly, he’d died three years earlier from a heart attack. Justin had been devastated, but I was sure me and Ruby were what he needed to pull him through.
Shortly before our second daughter Eva was born, when Ruby was nearly two, we got married. Our little family was complete – everything I’d ever wanted.
At least, it was at first…
In the beginning, we had fun family days out at the park, or at indoor play areas for the kids.
‘Mummy, look!’ Ruby would grin, arms up in the air as she sped down a slide on Justin’s lap. Her infectious giggles would carry around the room as she played in the ball-pit with her daddy. They were the best times, watching my family having fun together.
But by the time Eva was six months old, Justin started spending less time at home. When he wasn’t working, he’d be down the pub, or having a drink at his brother’s.
He’d always liked a drink before. But when he staggered in one night absolutely pie-eyed, I was gobsmacked.
‘What’s got into you lately?’ I snapped, when he cracked open yet another can in front of the telly. ‘I feel like I hardly ever see you – and when I do, you’re too drunk to actually spend any quality time with me and the girls…’
I trailed off, defeated, as he stared blankly at the TV screen, ignoring me. All my pleas for an answer fell on deaf ears.
From then on, whenever I questioned him, he’d get in a huff and storm out.
Finally, after weeks of nagging, I got to the root of the problem.
I’d always suspected Justin had never really got over his dad’s death. But hearing him talk about how he missed him, I knew that was the reason he drank. ‘We used to go fishing and be together for hours,’ he sighed, welling up. ‘I could talk to him about anything.’
‘You need to get help,’ I told him. ‘Promise me you’ll try.’
‘Okay,’ he sniffed. He went to a couple of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, but it didn’t last. He wouldn’t even try bereavement counselling. After three months of tolerating his moods and constant drinking, I couldn’t take any more.
It broke my heart to end our marriage, but what else could I do?
It wasn’t fair on me to watch the man I loved drowning his sorrows in beer every night – but, more importantly, it wasn’t fair on the kids. So when he came home plastered for the umpteenth time…
‘I can’t do this,’ I told him. ‘It’s over. I want you to leave.’
His dark eyes narrowed into a spiteful glare. All the love I’d seen in them once was gone. ‘Fine,’ he spat, storming out of the house.
I probably should have been in tears. Instead, I couldn’t help feeling relieved. I’d spent every waking minute worrying about Justin, I was exhausted from it.
‘You did the right thing,’ my best mate Charlotte reassured me. ‘He was making you so unhappy, and you didn’t deserve that. You need to get out and start living again.’
Even Mum said I’d made the right decision. Although that didn’t stop Justin trying to worm his way back. ‘I’ll change,’ he’d promise whenever he came to visit the girls. ‘I love you Cara, please let me come home.’
He’d moved back in with his mum, and I knew it must be hard. But each apology, each promise to clean up his act, was followed by a drunken phone call hours later. With a sinking feeling, I realised he wasn’t going to change. I couldn’t help him.
So, tough as it was, I stood firm. I started going out more with friends, while my Auntie Tiazah babysat the girls.
Then one weekend, I was Christmas shopping in town when I bumped into an old friend.
‘Adam?’ I smiled.
‘Cara!’ he beamed, wrapping me in a hug. ‘I haven’t seen you for ages, how are you?’
I’d known Adam, 24, at school. We’d even been an item when I was 13. Well, I say we were an item, what I mean is we’d held hands and kissed a couple of times!
Still, seeing him again, happy memories came flooding back. He’d always made me laugh and, after we’d broken up, we’d stayed good mates until I’d started seeing Justin. He’d always been a bit funny when we ran into Adam and, to avoid any jealousy, I’d started seeing less of my old pal. Over the years, we’d lost touch.
‘Want to grab a drink?’ he asked.
‘I’ve got too much to do,’ I shrugged apologetically, nodding towards the shopping bags filled with Christmas presents in my arms. ‘But we should definitely arrange something soon.’
‘Well, what are you up to New Year’s Eve?’ he asked.
‘No plans,’ I replied, telling him about my break-up.
‘Come into town with me and my mates,’ he offered. ‘Sounds like you could do with a night out.’
‘Okay,’ I smiled, giving him my number. ‘Why not?’
Two weeks later, Tiazah looked after
the girls for me again while I glammed myself up to see in the new year with Adam.
We had a great time hitting the pubs and bars, dancing until my feet hurt. Adam was right, it’d been four months since I’d split from Justin and a good night out was exactly what I’d needed.
It certainly beat staying home on New Year’s Eve, thinking about what a mess the last year had been.
Now, I was thoroughly looking forward to a new beginning.
‘Start as you mean to go on, eh?’ Adam smiled, handing me a drink.
‘Definitely,’ I nodded.
When the clock struck midnight, we all burst into cheers.
‘Happy New Year!’ I shouted over the noise as everyone hugged.
I’d never meant it more. This was going to be a fresh start for me and the girls. No more stress, no more worrying about Justin. I had to move on.
On our way home, Adam went to hail a taxi.
‘What are you doing?’ I asked.
‘Getting a cab home,’ he said. ‘What do you think I’m doing?’
‘No,’ I shook my head. ‘You’ve been a Godsend getting me out of the house, the least I can do is put you up for the night. Cabs cost a fortune on New Year’s Eve!’
Then I linked arms with him, determined to get my way. ‘Come on, I’m just down the road,’ I added.
‘Sounds like a fair deal to me,’ he smiled gratefully, as we tottered down the road together.
We got in at around 2am and Tiazah got a lift home with her sister. The kids were already asleep in my bedroom.
‘Right, let me grab you some pillows,’ I whispered, showing Adam to the spare room in my flat. I left him snuggling down to sleep.
Before getting into my bed, I padded into the kitchen for a glass of water – I didn’t want to start my new year with a nasty headache.
A tap at the front door startled me, though.
Who was knocking for me at this time of night?
I tiptoed over to the door, and pulled it open a fraction. As soon as I saw Justin standing there, relief and anger surged through me. His glazed eyes gave him away – he was drunk again.
So much for new beginnings! ‘What are you doing here?’ I hissed, annoyed.
‘I want to see the girls,’ he slurred. ‘They’re my kids, I have every right!’
‘Not at 2.30am you don’t!’ I snorted. ‘They’re asleep. Come back in
the morning.’
I went to shut the door, but Justin jammed his foot in the way and barged by me. ‘Justin!’ I cried, as he stomped into the lounge. ‘What the hell are you…’
Before I could finish, he whizzed around to face me. His eyes were bulging angrily. ‘Whose shoes are those?’ he shouted, pointing to Adam’s black lace-ups on the floor.
‘They’re my friend Adam’s,’ I started. ‘He’s staying in the spare…’
Justin cut me off, pushing past me towards the kitchen. Baffled, I watched as he grabbed a knife from the kitchen drawer and hurtled down the hallway to my bedroom.
‘You’re sleeping with him, aren’t you?’ he shouted, as he thumped the door open with his fist. The only thing he saw were the girls asleep on my bed. But instead of getting the message, he carried on towards the spare room.
‘No!’ I screamed, trying to block his path. ‘Just calm down, there’s nothing going on…’
Justin had never been violent towards me before, even when he was drunk. But now he lifted his hand and swung it at my face, knocking me to the floor.
As I clambered to my feet, I heard a blood-curdling scream. ‘Adam!’ I gasped, racing into the room.
I stared in horror at the blood spattered across the walls, the two men grappling with each other, Adam hunched over in agony…
I stood there frozen. Then Adam won the struggle, shoving Justin off him and running out through the door. He was gone before I could even offer any help.
I looked back at Justin, still rooted to the spot in shock. My heart pounded as I saw the bloody knife he’d used to stab Adam still clutched in his hand.
He glared at me, then fled.
Suddenly, I snapped out of the daze that had left me paralysed, grabbed the phone, and dialled 999 for the police and ambulance.
Outside, I followed a trail of blood to where Adam was crouched on the pavement bleeding heavily from his back. I waited with him until paramedics arrived minutes later. The police caught and arrested Justin shortly after.
I got a neighbour to watch the girls while I went to hospital with Adam. He’d been stabbed twice in the back and once in his arm.
‘He’s got a punctured lung, but he’s going to be okay,’ a doctor said.
‘This is all my fault,’ I sobbed, when he came round later.
‘I don’t blame you,’ he croaked.
Justin did, though. At Chelmsford Crown Court, Essex, in May, he told the jury I’d attacked Adam. He tried to frame me! I couldn’t believe he’d sunk so low. What had happened to the loving family guy I’d married?
Thankfully, Adam had recovered enough to give evidence. ‘Did you get a look at the person who attacked you?’ he was asked.
‘I got a glimpse of him,’ he said.
‘Can you identify him?
‘Yes,’ he nodded confidently. ‘It was Justin Faircloth.’
The jury took no notice of Justin’s evil lies about me. He was found guilty and given an indeterminate sentence, for the public’s protection. He won’t be considered for parole until he’s served six years behind bars. After that, medical professionals will assess him and decide if he should spend longer in prison.
Unfortunately, me and Adam have lost touch again. We say hello if we bump into each other in the street, but we don’t go out. I hope this New Year brings a happy new year. It can’t be worse than the old one.
Cara Gargano, 21, Colchester, Essex