Cumbrian woman who saw her dad kill her mum still has nightmares a year on
By Victoria Brenan
Last updated at 12:03, Saturday, 31 October 2009
A daughter who saw her father murder her mother in a frenzied attack in their Penrith home lives with the brutal images every day.
Twenty-three-year-old Collette Davidson suffers from nightmares and sleep problems after witnessing the assault in which her mother was stabbed 50 times on August 21 last year.
She has essentially lost both parents after her father Robert, 48, was this week ordered to be detained indefinitely in a mental hospital after admitting manslaughter.
“I become very upset when I think of what she went through and the horrific end to her life,” Collette said in a statement.
“After the incident I hardly slept at all and I don’t like being around knives. I look at them and think about what they can do.”
Detective Superintendent Andy Slattery, who led the investigation into the death of 43-year-old Judith Davidson, paid tribute to Collette’s strength saying she had witnessed “the most unimaginable, horrific scenes”.
The family had eaten a meal together before Davidson took two knives upstairs and subjected his wife of 24 years to a sustained, brutal stabbing in the bedroom of their home in White Ox Way. Collette overheard them arguing – her mother had earlier asked her father to leave – then heard a scream and a cry.
She saw her mother – whom she described as her best friend – cornered and being stabbed by her father. She grabbed one of the knives and went to a neighbour for help. When they returned, the attack was still continuing.
“Collette was extremely traumatised,” said Supt Slattery, head of the public protection unit. “She will never forget what happened but she has been very strong throughout this, remarkably so. Right from the start she was able to explain to officers what had happened and give a very detailed account of what had gone on at the house.”
Supt Slattery was called to the scene after Davidson had already been arrested.
“It was obvious from the start that we weren’t looking for anyone else in connection with this,” he said.
“Something significant happened in the mind of Robert Davidson and he turned from a quiet and depressed man to being extremely violent.”
During Davidson’s court appearance on Thursday, it emerged that he had been battling depression for some time and would sit in bed, not wash and not help around the house. He refused to accept that he had a problem.
Supt Slattery described him as “very quiet and unemotional”, even at the scene. “He didn’t speak. Not at all. In his first interview he didn’t comment. He said very little but what he did say was that Judith was a good woman and he loved her.”
Davidson was examined by a doctor and psychiatrist at the police station and was deemed fit to be interviewed. He was later assessed by three psychiatrists – one for the defence, the prosecution and the court. All agreed that he was suffering from an “abnormality of the mind”, stemming from depression.
“He was suffering from hopelessness and depression. It was long-term build up of a history of mental depression,” Supt Slattery said.
When his wife asked him to leave, Davidson was “so depressed, so anxious” that he viewed it as “a catastrophic event”, the psychiatrists concluded – although the court heard she had asked him to leave on previous occasions.
Supt Slattery admitted that people would find it difficult to understand how a placid, withdrawn man who showed no hint of violence could suddenly commit such an horrific act.
“There was no build-up in terms of threats or violence of any sort, no reason to believe that Judith was afraid in any way,” he added.
“It’s something I don’t think the family or anyone else will understand. There was clearly a degree of planning involved and forethought in what he did. He took two kitchen knives upstairs.”
Supt Slattery said Davidson’s medical problems started in 2007 and he had been prescribed some medication but “clearly the treatment and intervention hadn’t been successful”.
The psychiatrists’ assessment made it difficult to pursue a murder charge and the CPS agreed to accept a plea to manslaughter, meaning Davidson would not have to go to trial, something Mrs Davidson’s side of the family criticised. “We have no faith in this country’s justice system,” they said in a statement. “It should be a life for a life.”
Supt Slattery said Davidson’s children – Collette and Craig, who was at university at the time of the attack – would never forget what happened. Neither of them attended court.
They were a close-knit family and the impact of “having a parent die at the hands of another parent adds another dimension of difficulty for anybody”.
“They have lost their mother and got to come to terms with the fact their father killed her in a brutal and ferocious way,” he said. “They both found it difficult to come to terms with what happened and to carry on with normal life.
“Collette will never forget what happened but she has got to find a way to move on.”
Davidson, who must remain at a secure hospital indefinitely, will be monitored by doctors and a report produced every year on his condition and progress. His family will be kept updated and he will be released only when no longer considered a risk to the public.
The judge said he expected him to spend a “very long” time in hospital.
First published at 09:11, Saturday, 31 October 2009
Published by http://www.newsandstar.co.uk