Belfast Telegraph

Never seeing mummy again destroys me, she was my best friend, says daughter as killer jailed

Court hears how murderer had 'evil look' and smiled during frenzied attack

Charlotte Reat (daughter of Jayne Toal Reat ) leaves Court with and Family and Friends after Nathan Ward was sentenced at Craigavon Court on Friday. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Charlotte Reat (daughter of Jayne Toal Reat ) leaves Court with and Family and Friends after Nathan Ward was sentenced at Craigavon Court on Friday. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

By Paul Higgins

A woman who held her dying mother in her arms until her final breath after she was stabbed in a frenzied attack spoke of how she has been "destroyed" at the death of her best friend.

The court heard how the killer, who had been living with the family at the time, had an "evil look" and even smiled as he carried out the savage attack on the two women and his own father who tried to rescue them.

Nathan Ward was sentenced to a 17-year minimum tariff for the murder of Jayne Toal-Reat, attempting to murder her daughter Charlotte and wounding of his father Joseph Tweedie on Christmas Day 2017.

Charlotte, speaking after the sentencing, said: "This has been an extremely long and tough journey without my mum and it will only continue. The courts are finally over however I will never see my mummy again and this destroys me she was my best friend, my everything and I love her so much."

It was revealed in court that Ward also confessed to three counts of sexually assaulting Charlotte. Twice on December 9 and again on Christmas Day. It was the sexual assault at 5.17am on Christmas morning that sparked his murderous attack with a 9 inch combat knife. Charlotte waived her right to anonymity in respect of the attack.

Describing an entirely normal Christmas Eve, the Judge Patrick Lynch 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.

"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 saved my life.“

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Charlotte with her mother Jayne

Awoken by the screaming, Mr Tweedie ran into the room and quoting his witness 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."

Mr Tweedie was able to overpower him and grab the knife and threw it to the ground. He said Ward then calmed down and said: "It wasn’t me daddy, 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 where 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".

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Nathan Ward

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.”

DCI Peter McKenna, speaking after sentencing, said he had "no doubt" society is a safer place with the dangerous killer in jail.

He said: “Jayne and her daughter Charlotte, who was only 21 at the time, should’ve been waking up to enjoy a special festive time at Christmas.

"Instead they awoke to the horror of Nathan Ward standing beside their bed armed with a knife.

"He stabbed defenceless Jayne multiple times before stabbing Charlotte and attacking his own father who had come to their aide.

"Tragically Jayne passed away from her injuries, dying in Charlotte's arms.

"No daughter should ever have to go through such a traumatic and heartbreaking ordeal.

"Jayne was a psychiatric nurse. She dedicated her life to helping others yet she was murdered in cold blood in her own home by Nathan Ward who she had welcomed into that home.

"Nathan has robbed her of the joy of seeing her daughter Charlotte growing into a young woman and his callous actions have also denied Charlotte of the love, guidance and friendship of her mother.

"I am in no doubt that Nathan Ward is a dangerous man and he has shown no remorse for his actions.

"The community is a much safer place now that he is behind bars and I would like to pay tribute to Jayne’s family who have shown great courage throughout this investigation.”

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