By Q Radio News
A woman who saw her mother stabbed to death in a savage and frenzied attack had to be physically restrained in court today.
As 20-year-old killer Nathan Ward was being led to the cells at Craigavon Crown Court just a few feet from the packed public gallery, Charlotte Reat, had to be physically held back by her father from getting out of the packed public.
Weeping and hyperventilating, Charlotte - who was herself stabbed in the brutal Christmas Day attack which killed her mum Jayne Toal-Reat - shouted out to Ward “I hate you, I hate you” before being comforted by her dad Simon and other relatives.
(Charlottee Reat, centre, leaves Craigavon courthouse)
Ward, already handed a life sentence after he pleaded guilty to Jayne’s murder, will be told the minimum tariff he will have to spend behind bars before he is considered for release by the Parole Commissioners next Friday.
As well as admitting to murder Ward, who appeared in court today (fri) in a beige t-shirt and blue track suit bottoms, confessed to the attempted murder of Charlotte and wounding his father Joseph Tweedie with intent to inflict grievous bodily harm on Christmas Day 2017.
Earlier prosecuting QC Ciaran Murphy likened the incident to something akin “to a pulp fiction novel” and that the blood-spattered bedroom where the murder happened was “like something from a horror film.”
It is the first time the events surrounding the bloody and brutal attack have been heard in court and Mr Murphy revealed that Ward confessed to cops he had been “fantasising” about killing 44-year-old nurse Jayne for around six months before launching the unprovoked and frenzied attack.
He further revealed that Ward had bought the 9” “Bowie or Rambo knife” used in the attack along with a machete and other items including handcuffs, duct tape and a Soviet gas mask “believing it would be more intimidating,” from online site CombatUK and that he admitted he fantasied about “trapping and torturing” Jayne before killing her.
The court heard he felt ill will towards her as he believed his father “always prioritised” his six year relationship with her over him and that he had moved in with his father while on bail for a sexual attack, an attack which he was acquitted of three months after the bloody murder.
Describing a typical Christmas Eve scenario, Mr Murphy told the court how Jayne, Charlotte and Joe had been wrapping presents and preparing food for the following day when the three went to bed, Charlotte and Jayne in one room and Joe to the other bedroom at his house on Mornington Lane in Lisburn.
The plan had been for Joe and Ward to share a room, said the lawyer but he continued that just before 5.30 am, Jayne awoke to find Ward in the bedroom adding that on the Crown case, he was about to sexually assault Charlotte.
Jayne demanded “what the f***” and it was then that according to Charlotte, Ward lunged “violently at her mother.”
“At this stage what played out was something like a pulp fiction novel rather than reality,” said the senior lawyer, outlining how Ward “started hitting her” and Jayne let out a “pained scream.”
“She saw that he was hitting her repeatedly but she didn’t see a knife and didn’t know he had one at that stage,” said Mr Murphy.
Ward was stabbing Jayne at the back of her head and upper back near her neck and when Charlotte got up, Ward attacked her.
He told the court: “She tried to defend herself by lying on her back and raising her legs up, kicking and pushing out at him....she said he was smiling.”
Having managed to kick him off, Charlotte didn’t see the knife until Ward got back up again and held the knife “to her throat or chest.”
“Charlotte felt that she was going to die and was screaming” but having been awoken by the screaming, Ward’s father “ran in” and grabbed the knife but during the ensuing struggle, he was stabbed as well.
Having disarmed Ward, Mr Murphy described how Joe said his son “just changed, like a switch...saying ‘it wasn’t me daddy, I don’t know what I’m doing, it wasn’t me’.”
Joe ordered his son out of the bedroom and he sat on the stairs while Charlotte “saw her mother lying face down at the side of the chair at the end of the bed and went to her.”
“Mr Tweedie was in the hallway with the defendant and asked him “what the f*** did you do,“ said Mr Murphy, “he replied saying ‘I don’t know dad, I don’t know, what have I done, I don’t remember anything’....he was crying and screaming.”
“Charlotte wanted to hold her mother but thought she was going to die...holding her mother in her arms she thought she felt a pulse briefly but she gasped, gave a big breath and fell to her shoulder,” said Mr Murphy.
Neighbours had heard the screams and called 999 at 5.56am and when officers arrived at the scene five minutes later, they found Ward with the “large black sheath” of the murder weapon tucked into his boxer shorts.
The weapon had been broken at some stage and they uncovered the blood stained blade under the bed.
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 post mortem examination of Jayne’s body, Mr Murphy outlined how she had been stabbed seven times in the back with wounds “nicking” her spine, penetrating through her ribs and sternum at the front of her body and one which lacerated the aorta, one of the body’s main blood vessels.
“The combined effect of the stab wounds but particularly that which transacted the aorta and that which severed the spinal cord would have caused her rapid death,” the court heard.
Mr Murphy said that according to deputy state pathologist Dr. Peter Ingram, “no more than moderate force would have been needed to inflict the wounds, particularly if the blade was sharp and pointed.”
Turning to Charlotte’s injuries, the lawyer said she suffered multiple lacerations to her head and face which required stitching but later in his opening, he added it was clear from the victim impact report she has also suffered serious psychological harm as a result of the attack on both her and her mother.
Mr Tweedie also sustained lacerations and Mr Murphy said that in his victim impact report, he describes how he “has lost his partner and has lost his son.”
“He misses Jayne’s beauty and kindness and misses the life that they could and should have had,” said the lawyer.
Ward was questioned by police two days after the killing and he told cops he had been in his room on Christmas Eve drinking Jack Daniels when he got the knife from the shelf where he kept it and went to the bedroom to “test himself to see if he still had the urge to kill.”
He said he stood there “for ten minutes and had been thinking about the last two years and his horrific relationship with Charlie and Jayne and his own father.”
Ward admitted that he harboured fantasises of killing his own father and Jayne and claimed that when Jayne woke up, he was “quite calm” but as she questioned him why he was there “he just flipped” and attacked her.
He further confessed that he “had been thinking of killing Jayne for six months” and as well as the knife, had bought gloves, a machete and other items including a Soviet gas mask, handcuffs and duct tape with a view to “trapping and torturing her with the knife or machete.”
Mr Murphy told the court how Ward told police officers “he had bought the gas mask as ‘it was like, more intimidating’,” further claiming she continually belittled him and that he felt “betrayed” by his dad who prioritised his six year relationship with Jayne.
The lawyer said while Ward claimed he was “testing himself” by going into the bedroom with the “significant weapon” and denies any other motivation, he submitted Ward murdered Jayne because “she had caught him out” about to sexually assault her daughter.
Turning to legal guidelines for sentencing in murder cases, Mr Murphy submitted the case fell into the higher starting point of 15 or 16 years before aggravating and mitigating features are taken into account.
He further submitted the killing had been planned, “the violence was gratuitous,” Ward had intended to kill, the victim was vulnerable having been asleep in her bed and there were multiple victims.
“It appears from what he said that while he says he did not plan to kill her that night, he had considered killing her before, he was considering it for months, he had acquired the knife and he had it with him that night,“ said the lawyer, adding that “it appears to be dually motivated by his sexual deviancy and his desire to kill.”
He further argued that Ward also intended to kill Charlotte because “were it not for the manner in which she kicked him and defended herself and the intervention of Mr Tweedie at the point that he did, it would have been inevitable that she would have suffered the same fate as her mother.“
Lodging his plea in mitigation, defence QC Peter Irvine said the reports and statements bear “testimony to the anguish and the total devastation sustained due to this totally senseless and unjustified killing” for which Ward had shown “a degree of remorse.”
He conceded the murder had been “brutal and savage...and frenzied” and accepted the numerous aggravating features to it such as the planning and gratuitous violence used.
“ The relationship between him and the deceased quickly deteriorated and in interview, the defendant candidly accepted that he fantasised about killing her and indeed his father also,” said Mr Irvine.
In mitigation, he submitted that Ward should be given “considerable credit” for pleading guilty and for his youth at the time as he was 19 when he launched his murderous attack.
Mr Irvine argued that Ward had always accepted what he had done but the defence had been obligated to investigate whether he suffered an abnormality of mind at the time which could have raised issues of diminished responsibility but that when a report was received that there are no such issues, he admitted his guilt.
Remanding Ward back into custody, Judge Patrick Lynch QC said he would fix the minimum tariff of the life term next Friday after he had considered today’s submissions and legal guidelines.