Thurzie O’Neil, 45, fell head over heels with convicted murdered Lee Barrass, 45, even marrying him in prison. But it wasn’t long before his evil true colours shone through…
Staring at the handsome man in the photograph, my hand started shaking as I read the words written .
Butterflies fluttered around my stomach as I read the words scrawled across the paper in front of me: “I can’t wait until we can see each other in person…”
I’d fallen for Lee Barrass, 37, yet I had never actually met him.
He was on trial for murder and we had been writing to each other for weeks.
My friend Diana knew him and insisted he was innocent.
But on the last day of the trial he called me
“I’ve been found guilty Thurzie, but they’ve got it all wrong I swear!”
I was devastated, and tried to put on a brave face.
I pushed the terrible crime he’d been found guilty of – slaughtering 19-year-old Beth Myles at a flat in Dundee in 2000and then committing a sex act over her body – out of my mind.
Our relationship progressed at lightning speed – over the following months we wrote two or three times a week and sent each other pictures.
After he had been in prison for two months I decided to visit him.
I travelled 250 miles and paid for a B&B. It took me weeks to save up for the trip.
When I arrived one guard muttered: ‘You’re brave Miss…” and looked at me pitifully when I said I was here to see Lee Barrass.
Lee was wearing a blue polo top, unshaven, unkempt and with messy hair, but I thought he was gorgeous.
“I’m so pleased you came, you look beautiful,” he schmoozed.
He didn’t seem like a murderer to me – he was full of charm and wit and I could tell by the way he was constantly on edge that he was frightened of his new environment.
After that I tried to see him once a month and things soon hotted up.
He pressurised me into sending him naughty pictures of me in just my underwear.
I complied because I loved him and felt sorry for him, but as soon as I’d sent the pictures I regretted it and wondered if the paedos and rapists in his jail would see them.
In July 2003 I moved to Falkirk with my son, Michael, 4, and daughter Kelly, then 16, to be closer to the prison.
Lee soon had me wrapped around his little finger.
I’d buy him clothes, books and even fed his desire for sex by buying him porno magazines.
In 2004 Lee said during one visit: “So d’ya fancy getting married?”
“Yes!” I gushed, without a doubt in my mind.
In September 2005 I pulled on a black suit jacket teamed with a blouse and black skirt, and curled and sprayed my blonde hair before going to the prison.
The visitors’ room was cleared for us and some of Lee’s murderer inmates were present at the wedding. Double murderer Joe McGinlay was his best man.
We had a buffet of prison food and a wedding cake, which was a simple white rectangle with yellow and blue flowers plastered on.
I sat there eating with the cons for half an hour and then I had to leave.
However, It didn’t take long before things took a turn for the worse and Lee’s ugly character emerged.
He became possessive and controlling, leaving me petrified.
On April 26th 2006 I celebrated my 41st birthday by having a party at my house.
“Are there any men in the house?” he sneered over the phone.
He went mental and growled that he was sending some of his friends to the area I lived to “keep an eye on me!”
I cancelled nights out with friends because he insisted: “You’re not going out!” and I felt scared by what would happen if I disobeyed.
The final straw came when a few months later he demanded that I smuggled some Cannabis into prison for him. I was scared of what he’d say if I didn’t.
I was caught, and had to serve community service. I could have had Michael taken away from me and I was already risking my daughter’s safety.
It was a massive reality check.
“I want a divorce!” I told him the day after I’d served my community service.
“What do you mean? Don’t do this Thurz…” he grunted.
But I had finally seen the light. I realised he didn’t care about me and was just using me to get what he wanted.
It was then that I realised how stupid I’d been, the reality of what I’d done smacked me in the face.
Within a year my divorce was finalised. I was finally free from the clutches of a murderer.
Instantly my life got better. Me and Kelly made up and she had my granddaughter, Kiera, now 3, in 2007.
I am petrified of what he will do when he comes out in a few year’s time. But I won’t let him win.
I married a murderer and by the end I was living a life sentence. I’m just glad I was lucky to have a second chance at life, unlike tragic Beth.