A year has passed since Julie Davison, of Church Square, was brutally murdered by James Allen, who has since been imprisoned for his heinous crime.
And for her family, the tragic events of 25 April 2012 still burn bright in their memory as they continue to ask why the 50-year-old was taken from them so needlessly.
Julie’s brother-in-law George Kibble, of St Andrew’s Road, has spent the last year battling leukaemia while attempting to console his grief-stricken wife Dawn. He said: “Dawn was not looking forward to the anniversary, but they say the first year is the worst. We talk about her every single day. We still can’t get our heads around why it happened. It’s just unbelievable.”
The couple said they try not to focus on Julie’s tragic final hours. George added: “We think of the good times as well as the bad. Some of the things we used to come out with used to make us laugh, we still talk about the silly things.”
To mark the anniversary, the couple visited Julie’s grave at Larpool Cemetery, where she rests beside her mother. George said: “We are the sort of people, we don’t make a show, because we don’t believe in that. So Dawn and myself went out for a meal, to try and cheer her up.”
Following Julie’s funeral, the family scattered some of her ashes from Larpool Viaduct, before placing the rest at Larpool Cemetery. “We cast them from the viaduct so they would eventually end up in all the lovely places abroad, where she visited,” explained George.
Julie’s only son, Chris, lives in Preston, but George said they keep in touch and explained that training to be a teacher keeps the 28-year-old busy.
The Church Square flat where Julie was brutally murdered has now been let out to a new tenant, and the couple said they have avoided the site as much as possible. George said: “We have only been past when we had to, when people were leaving flowers, which we had to remove when they died.”
However in December the couple were required to re-enter the flat to remove Julie’s belongings, a task which took two weeks to complete.
“It was not quite as shocking as I thought,” said George. “Dawn was really dreading it and I was not looking forward to seeing the shape on the carpet, that they had cut around where her body lay. But thankfully the police had taken the entire carpet, which made it a lot easier for us both.
Following a nationwide manhunt involving hundreds of officers, 36-year-old James Allen was arrested and charged with the murders of both Julie and Middlesbrough pensioner Colin Dunford, just days before. He was found guilty of the brutal killings at a Newcastle Crown Court trial in November and received two life sentences, for which he would serve a minimum of 37 years.
During the trial he had attempted to disrupt proceedings at every opportunity, but remained silent while the guilty verdict was returned. There were cries of ‘yes, yes’ from the public gallery, but Mr Kibble said given the opportunity, he would not say a word to Allen. He explained: “It’s not worth talking to him. When I was giving evidence he had his head on the desk and put his hands over his ears. He just didn’t care.”
Allen’s lack of compassion and remorse for his actions only makes Julie’s slaying more difficult for the family to understand. “It made things worse,” said George. “Everybody was asking, ‘did she know him?’ She didn’t know him from Adam.”