My carpenter ex tried to carve me up

Emma Carpenter, 30, from Cumbria who was attacked by her former partner David Heslop.
Emma Carpenter, 30, from Cumbria who was attacked by her former partner David Heslop.

The music was pumping and the punch was flowing. As I danced with mates at a house party in my home town, I noticed a man eyeing me up.

Smiling flirtatiously at him, I turned back to my friends and said: “Who’s that?”

“Oh, I wouldn’t go near him, he’s trouble,” said Kelly.

But that just made me even more attracted to him and I waltzed over, ignoring my friends’ warnings, and struck up conversation.

Emma Carpenter, 30, from Cumbria who was attacked by her former partner David Heslop.
Emma Carpenter, 30, from Cumbria who was attacked by her former partner David Heslop.

David, then 25, was seven years older than me. Confident and funny, I was immediately attracted to him and after we’d dated for a few months, I found myself falling in love for the first time in my life.

I’d just finished an administration course at college while he was a qualified carpenter.

As he put his arms around me, I felt so safe holding on to his big, rugged hands.

For a while everything was perfect and I couldn’t have asked for more. David never failed to surprise me with a bunch of flowers, or cover the bed in rose petals.

We decided to move in together and four years later and I became pregnant.

I was so happy, but I was also nervous – this was my first baby, after all, but I knew I could rely on David for support.

Evil carpenter

As David pointed at the scans excitedly in the hospital, there was no doubt in my mind that he’d make a great dad.

All he would talk about was daddy’s little princess – he was desperate for a baby girl and kept on talking about having a big family.

When he found out the baby was a boy, that didn’t put him off in the least and he set to work carving wooden Winnie the Pooh plaques for the baby’s room.

But my bubble burst when we began rowing over everything. I told myself that everything would calm down once William was born and blamed the rows on myself.

I’d been so emotional lately because my hormones were all over the place and it must have been difficult for David to deal with.

When William was born, things were great, for a while.

I felt so secure, but gradually David became over protective.

Whenever I went to see a friend, he wanted to know where I was going and who I was seeing.

To begin with he tried playing it down and I thought his jealousy was proof that he really loved me.

But when I went back to work at the Chinese takeaway he didn’t like it one bit, and began accusing me of flirting with all the customers.

Then, in the summer of 2007, David came home, slamming the door so hard that the whole house shook.

“Who was that guy you were talking to last night?” he screamed.

“It was a customer, I was taking his order,” I said.

David had taken to driving by the takeaway at night on his way home from work.

Meanwhile my mum Mabel and dad Stephen looked after William.

“You’re a liar! I saw the way you were looking at him!” he shouted, picking up a glass and smashing it on the floor.

Then he lunged at me and punched me in the face.

I was in complete shock and couldn’t believe it when he started pulling me up the stairs by my hair.

“Get off me!” I screamed.

But he wasn’t listening and threw me in the bathroom, slamming the door shut.

“You’re not coming out until you’ve told me who he is! You’ve slept with him, haven’t you?”

“No, no, no,” I sobbed, shaking with fear as I wedged myself between the toilet and the wall, cowering in fear. I had no idea who he was talking about – David was my first and only love.

Afterwards he seemed to calm down and he opened the door and burst into tears.
“I’m so sorry,” he said and ran off.

I knew David had trouble dealing with his emotions, and I thought long and hard about leaving him.

I wanted to help him, but I couldn’t bear the thought of him hurting our son.

“If he’s capable of beating me up, who knows what he’ll do to William,” I told my mum.
The next day I told David it was over.

“Please, Emma, don’t leave me,” he begged. “No-one understands me the way you do.”
I decided to let things cool off and have a think about things, but a week later, at night time, I heard a stone hitting my window.

I looked out from my bedroom window to see David on the street below.

“If I can’t have you, then no-one can!” he screamed.

I tried to shut him out of my mind, but it was impossible.

He would bombard me with more than 100 texts a day and call me at the takeaway, refusing to get off the line so no one else could make an order.

Whenever I received a text message I dreaded opening it in case it was from David.

His messages would switch from being apologetic and heartfelt, to downright vicious.

Then I heard the house phone ringing and I thought I’d better answer it, in case it was mum.

It was David.

“Don’t you think I’m serious?” he said menacingly. “You’re mine – dead or alive.

“I’m going to stab you in the heart and throw a petrol bomb through William’s window! Then you’ll know how much you’ve hurt me.”

Terrified, I hung up and called the police straight away.

David went on the run and while they hunted him down, I told myself he would never hurt his son.

After David made his evil threat, the police installed a panic alarm in my bedroom.

When police caught David, he was arrested and jailed for 20 months in February 2009 for harassment and was given a restraining order preventing him from coming anywhere near me.

But as soon as he got out of jail, he broke his restraining order.

On December 16, 2010, I was in the bath when I heard a knock at the door.

I shouted down to William, then six, to ask who it was, but I heard the front door open.

I was still in the bath when David appeared in the room and loomed over me.

To my horror, I could see the handle of a carving knife protruding from his pocket.

My heart was in my mouth as he took his gloves off and rolled a cigarette.

Then William came into the bathroom and I whispered to him: “Go get granddad.”

“My dad says he’s going to be alright tonight,” said William and he went back downstairs.
“This is your last night,” said David coldly, putting his gloves back on.

“I know you’re seeing some else, don’t deny it. It’ll never work out, you know, because I’ll either kill him, or you.”

The truth was I wasn’t seeing someone else. In fact, I hadn’t dated anyone since David and I split up.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” I said. “You know I’m not.”

“Come on, let’s talk about it,” I said, desperately trying to stall for time and thinking about the panic alarm in the bedroom.

David let me get out of the bath and I went into the bedroom and put some pyjamas on.

I looked into his dark, wild eyes and said: “I love you…I’ve got something to show you.”

Then I opened the draw in the bedside cabinet and took out a matchstick rose he’d made for me, secretly pressing the panic alarm.

“Is it true?” he said.

I couldn’t lie to him, so, after a long pause, I said: “It hasn’t been true for a long time.”

Clenching his jaw, he fought back tears, then smashed the rose.

Suddenly, my phone started ringing.

“That’s your boyfriend isn’t it?” he screamed.

But I knew it was the police.

I heard the police van doors slamming and I thought, ‘here’s my chance’, and I flung the window open shouting: “he’s in here and he’s got a knife!”

Then he lunged at me with the knife, stabbing me in my chest and leg.

“Get off, please, no,” I said as he continued stabbing me.

I couldn’t feel anything, just pure terror.

Then I saw the handle of the knife fall to the floor, but the blade was missing.

The blood soaked through my pyjamas and I couldn’t breathe. It felt like an eternity until the police arrived, but then it was over and I was taken to hospital in an ambulance.

I spent the next four days in intensive care after David stabbed me six times in my stomach, hip, thigh and chest, piercing my lung.

The doctors said that if the police hadn’t arrived when they did, I would have bled to death.

I was lucky to be alive, they said.

When the doctors discharged me, I couldn’t bear to go back home, so William and I lived with my mum for six weeks.

Then one day, Mum said: “I’ve got a surprise for you, come on.”

She took me back to my house where a group of family and friends had gathered and she led me up to the bedroom.

It had been completely redecorated so nothing would remind me of that horrific night.
When David appeared at Carlisle Crown Court in November 2011 I wanted to be there to face him.

Looking him in the eye, I said: “You’re a coward,” as he got sent down for 18 years for attempted murder.

It’s been torture, not only for me, but for my whole family. When he turned up at my house that night with the knife I really thought I was going to die.

I constantly ask myself why he did this. Maybe he realised that it was finally over and couldn’t handle it.

Now I’m holding my head up high and getting on with life. I’m not going to let David win – I’m a fighter.

Next year I’m going to begin a training course to help victims of domestic violence.
I hope my story will inspire other victims to come forward, before it’s too late.


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