Stories

Stolen memories

When you murdered Mum you took away everything


Published by: Polly Taylor
Published on: 14th April 2011


To whoever you are,
For most people, it’s not hard to conjure up a happy memory of their mum from their childhood. I bet if you think for just a few seconds you can come up with one…
Maybe it’s how she tucked you in at night and read you a bedtime story, or the smell of the kitchen when she was cooking your favourite meal?
There are probably so many memories you take them for granted. After all, even when that person is gone, your most precious memories of them never fade away, do they?
But for me, that isn’t the case – you’ve made sure of that.
My mum Penny isn’t here because you killed her. And when you did that, you killed something else, too – every single memory I had of her.
I was only nine when I came home from school to find our house swarming with police, and my dad Alistair, 64, standing in the doorway with his head in his hands.
‘Daddy,’ I cried, as concerned officers tried to shepherd me and my brother Matthew, 11, away and into a neighbour’s house. ‘What’s happened to Mummy?’
But he couldn’t answer. Instead, he fell to his knees howling.
I was only little, but I knew she was dead.
What you’d done to Mum was so brutal, so horrifying, police advised Dad to lie to us, to say she’d been killed in a car crash.
But he refused.
‘Your mum’s been murdered,’ he choked, wrapping his arms around us that night. ‘A bad man stabbed her.’
Even if Dad had tried to hide the truth from us, he wouldn’t have been able to. What you did was front page news, and police were working around the clock to find you.
But the years passed and they never did.
Worse for me, though, was that the trauma of realising Mum was dead did something to me – all my memories of her were wiped out.
Thanks to you and the evil thing you did, looking at a photo of Mum was like looking a picture
of a film actress.
The face was familiar, but I knew nothing about her. The sound of her voice, how she laughed, how she comforted me if I fell over, were all a mystery to me. What did it feel like to hug her? What was the last thing she ever said to me?
I didn’t know.
My memories were gone – destroyed by you, just like everything else.
I became obsessed with finding out what Mum was like. I wanted to know if I took after her. Did we share the same sense of humour, have the same taste in clothes?
‘Help me remember her,’ I begged her best friend Carol, 60. ‘Every time I try to remember her, my brain just shuts down.’
‘She used to make me cry with laughter,’ Carol smiled. ‘And she was an absolute speed demon in that sports car of hers…’
I soaked up every detail, but it was never enough. Truth was I didn’t want other people’s memories of Mum, I wanted my own.
But when you plunged a knife into her, you’d killed them. 
There was something else, too. The more I thought about the everyday things I couldn’t remember, the more I worried it could be crucial.
What if I knew something significant, something that could lead the police to your door, but had blocked that out as well? It might only take one fragment of information for the whole picture to come into focus.
Determined to retrieve something, anything, I underwent hypnotherapy and visited our old family home.
When that didn’t work, I climbed into my car and drove to Greenford Leisure Centre, in Ealing, West London.
You’ll remember that place well because it’s where you killed Mum.
As I sat in the dismal car park, in the exact spot where she’d been found slumped over her car’s steering wheel, I went through every detail I knew of her last minutes.
Witnesses had seen Mum driving along with you in the passenger seat. She was flashing her hazard lights, and even mouthed ‘Help me’ at a passing motorist.
Did you ambush her at a set of traffic lights? Hold a knife to her neck, force her to drive here?
Or did she know you, trust you, let you inside her car without a second thought?
Knowing that place, with its graffiti-covered walls and rubbish-strewn floors, was the last place my mum ever saw, imagining the savage, bloody attack you launched on her… it was too much to bear.
The thing is, it wasn’t as if you lost your temper and lashed out without thinking, instantly regretting it. That, I could perhaps bring myself to understand.
But your attack was frenzied, relentless. You sat in the passenger seat and stabbed her through the heart over and over. That wasn’t enough for you though.
As her blood pumped out, and her life ebbed away, you wanted to be sure. So you got out of the car and walked around to the driver’s side window, then stabbed her again and again and again.
You stabbed Mum 50 times!
What on earth could she have done to deserve that?
Don’t you want to tell someone what you believe she did?
Every day, I wonder if she cried out for me, Dad and Matthew. If she begged you not to kill her for the sake of her family.
As you plunged that knife in and out of her chest, did we cross your mind even once?
Probably not. But no matter how evil, how callous, you are, I know you must wake up every single day and wonder: Is today the day I’m going to get caught?
You must think about what you did, and in some way it must haunt you. It’s been 20 years – aren’t you tired? I know I am.
Somehow, I’ve made a life for myself, I have good friends and a good job. But because of you, there will always be something missing.
Sometimes, I want my mum so badly it physically hurts. I ache to have her arms wrapped around me.
If I get married, there will be a black cloud hanging over my day because there will be no mother of the bride. And if I have children, I won’t have a single thing to tell them about their nan.
I pray that when I look into their faces and watch them play, my own childhood memories will return to me,
but deep down I fear it’s never going to happen.
My only hope is that if you’re caught, that might free my buried memories.
So next time you think back on your childhood, and a seemingly insignificant recollection of your own mum comes to you, just remember
this – there is only one person who can help me remember mine. And that’s you.
Lauren
Lauren Bell, 29, Banbury, Oxfordshire