Man who killed his father's partner will spend at least 17 years in prison

Paul Higgins

A killer who stabbed a mum to death in a frenzied knife attack after she caught him sexually assaulting her daughter on Christmas morning was today told it will be 2034 before he is even considered for release.

Imposing a 17 year minimum tariff on 20-year-old Nathan Ward at Craigavon Crown Court, Judge Patrick Lynch QC told him

“ I emphasise again that this is a minimum term-when, or even if, you are ever safe to be released will be a matter to be determined by the parole commissioners not before 2034.“

The Judge told Ward, who sat handcuffed, leaning forward continually looking at the floor throughout the half hour hearing, that by murdering Jayne Toal-Reat and attempting to murder her daughter Charlotte, “you, Ward, have robbed her of her life and prospects.“

“Nothing this court, or you can ever do well even begin to undo the damage you have caused her through your own uncontrolled hatreds and passions.“

As Ward was being led to the cells to begin his life sentence Charlotte, who continually cried in dignified silence, jumped over the three foot wooden partition separating the public gallery from the body of the court and was held back by four uniformed police officers, shouting at Ward “I will kill you,” before being comforted by friends and relatives who had packed the public gallery.

Ward, wearing a black t-shirt and blue track suit bottoms, showed no emotion and remained impassive.

At an earlier hearing Ward admitted the murder of 43-year-old psychiatric nurse Jayne, the attempted murder of Charlotte and wounding his father Joseph Tweedie with intent to inflict grievous bodily harm on Christmas Day 2017.

It can now be revealed that Ward also confessed to three counts of sexually assaulting Charlotte, twice on 9 December after she celebrated her 21st birthday and again on Christmas Day.

It was the sexual assault at 05.17 on Christmas morning that when caught by Jayne, sparked Ward into launching his savage and murderous attack with a 9” combat knife he had bought online.

During his sentencing Judge Lynch said he appeared “ to have had an unhealthy sexual obsession with Charlotte, not reciprocated, which, in part at any rate, underlies the tragic events giving rise to the Christmas day murder.“

Describing an entirely normal Christmas Eve, the judge outlined how Charlotte, Jayne and Joe had been out shopping and visiting relatives before going home and eventually to bed at around 1am.

The sleeping arrangements were that Jayne and Charlotte were in one bedroom with Joe and Ward in the other but around 5am, Ward went into the women’s bedroom, dressed in boxer shorts, armed with the lethal knife, where he began to sexually assault the sleeping Charlotte.

Jayne woke up and said “what the f***,” waking Charlotte by her reaction and Judge Lynch outlined the “ inference to be drawn is that she had seen the defendant in the room and if not specifically aware that he was abusing her daughter, knew that something was seriously amiss.“

“The full horror of what happened then is captured in Charlotte’s statement which I shall quote directly from,” said the judge.

“He stared at Mum for 20 seconds. He had an evil look on his face. He didn’t speak. There was no sound. Mum looked scared and said again-what the f*** are you doing in my room? Mum turned towards the door and he pounced on her.

He started hitting her. Mum turned away to protect herself. She let the most painful scream out. Nathan was stabbing her and stabbing her but I did not see the knife.

She tried to get out the door but he got her from behind. I think he stabbed the back of her head or neck. I went to get up to save her… When he realised that I was awake he ran towards me in the creepiest way.


(Jayne Toal-Reat and and her daughter Charlotte)


Nathan ran to my side of the bed. He ran and got on top of me. I tried to defend myself by lying on my back, kicking and punching him. He grabbed my hands. I didn’t know he had a knife. He got me on the side of the face.

He was smiling. I managed to kick him off for a slight second. I went to crawl off the bed. He grabbed me and pulled me back.

He sat on top of my legs and I thought at that moment I was going to die. He got my neck.

I could see the knife now… Then Joe came in and save my life.“

Awoken by the screaming, Mr Tweedie ran into the room and quoting his statement the judge continued:

“ I jumped up and went into the bedroom that Charlotte was in. It was like a horror scene, blood everywhere… Charlotte was screaming, he was getting on top of her and was trying to stab her like a person possessed, trying to kill her, wanting to knife her to death and Charlotte was… Fighting him off and she had blood all over her face.

I intervened and he turned the knife on me and I got cuts to the forehead and one to the stomach with the knife.

I was able to overpower Nathan and grab the knife from him and threw it to the ground and he calmed down, just sort of changed and said “it wasn’t me daddy I don’t know what I’m doing, I don’t know what I’m doing it’s not me I don’t know what I’m doing.“

The judge told the court that in a panic, Charlotte fled the room but shortly “ returned to wear her mortally wounded mother was.“

Holding Jayne in her arms, Judge Lynch said Charlotte briefly felt a pulse but then Jayne “gasped a big breath and her head dropped to her shoulder.”

In a heartbreaking description, the judge said how “Charlotte described how she hugged and hugged her mother and tried to hard to bring her back.”

Jayne had been stabbed seven times but according to the pathology report, two wounds which severed her aorta, the main blood vessel in the body, and her spinal cord were the injuries which “caused her very rapid death.”

The report also outlined how ” no more than moderate force would have been required to inflict any of the wounds part if the blade of the weapon was sharp and pointed.“

Turning to Charlotte’s injuries, the judge said she suffered multiple lacerations to her head and face which required stitching but later in his remarks, he added “It is clear that this young woman has been scarred, both physically and mentally for life.“

Mr Tweedie also sustained lacerations to his head and abdomen and Judge Lynch said that in his victim impact report, he describes how he “feels guilty for bringing the defendant into the home and thereby inadvertently and indirectly bringing about Jayne’s death.“

“He has lost his partner, son and indeed Charlotte who blames him, in part, for what happened.“

Ward himself had suffered lacerations to his hands as he had tried to use the broken blade to carry on the attack and on the way to hospital, officers received word that Jayne was dead.

The self-confessed killer asked the officers in the car, “can I ask a question, who was it that was murdered?”

Turning to the police enquiry, Judge Lynch told the court that during police questioning, Ward told cops he was in “what he described as a psychotic episode.“

He had been drinking Jack Daniels in his room, thinking about the “horrific relationship” he had with Jayne and Joe and “ thinking over what he was originally supposed to do which was ‘obviously kill em’.”

He confessed that he had gone to the bedroom armed with the knife “not knowing if he was going to kill Ms Reat or Joseph Tweedie” but to “test himself” to see if he still had “that anger inside him or if he still had the urge to...go through with murder.”

Angry at the way Jayne supposedly treated him, Ward admitted that “ he had been thinking about killing Jayne for some six months“ and bought two machetes, the murder weapon, duct tape, handcuffs and a soviet gas mask.

“ he stated he was originally going to use the handcuffs as most of his hatred was directed at Jayne and he was going to use the items for trapping her and torturing her with either the knife or the machete.“ Said the judge.

Ward told police that when Jayne woke up and challenged him, he “just snapped” and felt he had no other choice but “to just go for it.”

“He said it was kind of like a played out fantasy ‘where you weren’t really thinking straight but you were going through with it anyway’,” Judge Lynch said.

Addressing legal guidelines for sentencing in murder cases, the judge said he assessed Ward as a dangerous offender due to “ The extreme nature of the offences of violence, the degree of premeditation, the defendant arming himself preparatory to the attack.”

He told Ward the murder was aggravated by the fact that his victim had been asleep and vulnerable in her own home, the gratuitous violence used in the attacks and that the killing was carried out “to defeat the ends of justice” by killing the two witnesses to his sexual assault of Charlotte.

“His reaction was, by implication, an attempt to cover up his own perverted actions by silencing the two potential witnesses, however irrational response that may have been.“

In mitigation, the judge said Ward was 19 at the time of the brutal murder, has expressed remorse and was due some credit for pleading guilty although he added that “ I can scarcely avoid commenting that he had no option but to accept them.“

Jailing Ward for at least 17 years, Judge Lynch told the killer the sentence would have been 20 years if he had been convicted after a trial.
The judge also imposed 12 years for the attempted murder of Charlotte, five years for wounding his father and five years on each of the sexual assaults, with all those sentenced to be served concurrently to the life term. 

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