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Jayne: Why I forgive father for murdering my mother

Bangor mother-of-three's painful story of trauma and murder at the hands of her police constable dad

By Stephanie Bell

Published 24/10/2015

Jayne Stewart. Pic Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Jayne Stewart. Pic Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Jayne’s parents Lorna and Jack

A brave Bangor woman today opens her heart to share the harrowing story of how a childhood of cruel abuse at the hands of her police constable father culminated in him murdering her mum before turning the gun on himself.

Jayne Stewart (41) eventually learned to cope with the horrific trauma of her childhood thanks to a strong faith in God and hopes that the painful details of her ordeal will encourage others struggling with abuse.

She had just turned 16 and had succeeded - after many failed attempts - to finally persuade her mum to escape the years of violent and mental torture her father had subjected her to by leaving him.

Jayne says both her and her mother were excited about starting a new life and had all their plans made when two days before they were due to leave her father found out.

The story rocked the coastal town of Bangor in 1991 when Jayne's dad Jack Sinclair (58), a serving RUC officer shot his wife Lorna (54) before turning the gun on himself.

The couple had met in the RUC and Lorna left the force to raise their four children.

At home she suffered years of cruel physical and mental torture at her husband's hands before meeting the most tragic end.

Jayne, then just a teenager, endured the trauma of finding her parents' bodies.

In her testimony she simply says: "My childhood ended that day".

Her sister and two brothers were aged 26, 18 and 19 at the time. Now a mum-of-three who works as a classroom assistant, Jayne has laid bare the very private details of her father's reign of terror against his own family and how she struggled over many years as a young adult to come to terms with the horror, turning to drugs and, at one stage, wanting to take her own life.

She found God and says He has given her the strength to rebuild her life and find hope and happiness again.

She first shared her powerful testimony in her local church, the Elim in Bangor, which inspired many women to approach her to share their stories of abuse.

Her husband Garry (40), a warehouse manager, has also been a big support in helping her to come to terms with her tormented childhood. She says: "I just want people going through abuse to realise they are not alone and there is hope and whatever they're going through, God is there for them.

"When we cry out to God He hears us and He gives us strength to get through these situations.

"You don't realise just how many people are struggling and trying to cope by themselves and keeping their hurt under the radar. Losing mum and dad the way we did was tough, but God got us through and He always does."

Jayne describes a truly horrific childhood when she lived in constant fear of her father in what she says was a "volatile, hostile and unpredictable atmosphere". Scared of his temper, she said that even when he wasn't violent the family lived under its constant threat.

Just when she believed things couldn't get any worse, at the age of 14 her dad sexually abused her.

She says: "He added a new dimension to the abuse; he sexually assaulted me, totally disempowered me, and made me very afraid of him. Over the next three years he took great pleasure in making me believe that he would rape me."

Throughout it all Jayne says her long-suffering mum remained positive because of a strong faith in God and it is only in recent years that she too gave her life over to Jesus, which has allowed Jayne to understand how her mother coped.

She said: "In my teens I was really angry with God. Mum trusted in Him and was doing all this praying and for a long time I thought God wasn't listening to her and I didn't understand why He was allowing this to happen.

"It is only when I got saved myself that I realised that it was her faith and her relationship with Jesus that gave her the strength and a joy she shouldn't have had. I didn't really understand that until I got saved and got to know Jesus personally.

"I had turned to drugs in my teens, but rather than help me to escape they just made everything worse.

"I did it for about a year-and-a-half and it got to the point when I couldn't face another day and wanted to take my own life.

"I was preparing how I was going to do it and I was thinking about mum and her faith in God and while I didn't surrender my life to God at that point it did give me something to cling on to.

"It was five years before I got saved and before that I had never had a normal life. God blessed me and from that point on gave me my family, my home, my children and healing through his blessing.

"It did take time but I always believed in God and believed He had answered my prayers. I dropped in and out of church and then a couple of years ago God really, really convicted me again.

"I feared if I put my hand up in church to be saved that I could never live up to it, that it just wasn't who I am. I took that act of faith and God changed my heart."

Jayne's story has proved so inspirational that she is being invited to share it in other churches and at women's groups.

It is something she is more than happy to do in the hope of reaching out to others who have, or still are, going through trauma. She hopes that her positive message could help others to turn their lives around as well. She survived a brutal past to emerge positive and happy and she wants others to know they can do the same.

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