Husband went into ‘dad mode’ after his wife’s killing in Australia

Lee Lovell
Image caption,Lee Lovell says he and his family have been “robbed of our future”

By Rachael McMenemy

BBC News, Suffolk

The husband of a British woman killed in Australia on Boxing Day said he had spent the past year putting his grief aside to be “the best parent I can be”.

Emma Lovell, 41, died after being stabbed when intruders broke into her family home in North Lakes, Brisbane, on 26 December 2022.

She had emigrated from Ipswich in 2011 with her husband Lee and two daughters.

Mr Lovell, who is spending time in the UK with his children, said he had been in “dad mode” ever since the attack.

The BBC understands the two teenagers charged with murder, who were 17 at the time, remain remanded in custody.

Emma and Lee Lovell
Image caption,Emma and Lee Lovell were stabbed during a break-in at their Brisbane home but Mrs Lovell did not survive

Reflecting on what happened, Mr Lovell recalled being woken by their dogs barking and finding intruders in their home.

“I looked over at Emma and she was like ‘the front door is open’,” he said. “I just bolted to our bedroom door and opened it and saw people standing there.”

Mr Lovell said he tried to force one of the intruders out of the house and was injured.

Emma Lovell in a black top and shorts standing at the base of a waterfall.
Image caption,Emma Lovell’s husband, Lee says he misses everything about her

He had not realised how badly hurt his wife was until he heard his daughter say “mummy’s bleeding”.

Mrs Lovell was resuscitated at the scene and had a pulse before her husband was taken to hospital.

He said: “I didn’t know how bad it was at the time. I knew she was bleeding but didn’t know where from.

“I remember thinking at the time, ‘I can’t die, I can’t leave the kids orphans’.”

He recalled the “shock” at being told his wife had died.

Emma Lovell
Image caption,Mr Lovell said the progress of the court proceedings had been “frustrating”

“[Emma] not surviving didn’t really cross my mind,” he said.

From that point on, Mr Lovell described how he “entered dad mode” with his full focus on his daughters.

“Grief, there’s no book to it,” he said.

“I have found it quite hard grieving. I like to think of myself as a typical guy who can’t do two things at once. It’s either looking after the house and being a parent or grieving.

“I drive a small truck for work, it’s an hour’s drive and half the time I just put some music on, because I find music gets me to where I want to be and end up half the time just crying in my truck.

“The kids, the house, I’ve been trying to be the best parent I can be. It’s all on me.

“They were 13 and 15 at the time. Emma lost her dad at 13 and I know how much that affected her.” caption,

Lee Lovell says he has focussed on helping his children since his wife Emma was killed

Mr Lovell said he missed “everything” about his wife, who was from Hasketon, near Woodbridge, Suffolk.

“We just loved spending time together with our family, going getting coffees, making cocktails,” he said.

“Sometimes in life you go through things and you’re not so confident about something and you lean on that other person to help get you through and I just don’t have that.

“It’s also hard seeing couples together, you feel really angry and jealous about that.

“I suppose you feel you’ve had your future robbed.”

Christina Lofthouse and Emma Lovell
Image caption,Being without her best friend, even when they lived thousands of miles apart, has felt like “losing a limb”, said Ms Lofthouse

The family spent last Christmas relaxing together on a nearby beach, cooking bacon and eggs.

“Emma said ‘we really need to do this more often’,” said Mr Lovell.

“It’s something that stuck with me.”

Paying tribute to his wife, he added: “She was just such a hardworking person and just such a wonderful mum, she was funny as well but shy with it and she was just really great to be around.”

Mr Lovell decided to book a trip back to the UK to spend time with friends and family, arriving just before Christmas.

“I don’t want one event to take away from the happy times that are in that house but I didn’t want to be there for that first anniversary, so back in March I bought us tickets for the three of us to come back and catch up with friends and family,” he said.

Christina Lofthouse with Emma and Lee Lovell
Image caption,Christina Lofthouse (left) and Lee Lovell (right) say they have found it hard to grieve as they’ve reflected on a year since Emma (middle) died

The Lovell family has been spending time with Christina Lofthouse, a close friend of the couple and Mrs Lovell’s best friend.

Ms Lofthouse said the death had felt like “losing a limb”.

“She was so beautiful, so amazing and it sounds clich├ęd, when somebody loses someone that we say those things, but she genuinely was,” she said.

“Like Lee, I’ve got children, I haven’t been able to just let grief take over.”

Christina Lofthouse
Image caption,Christina Lofthouse says she still messages her friend, finding it hard knowing there won’t be a reply

Mr Lovell said he and the family were now awaiting updates on the court case.

The two teenagers were charged with one count each of murder, attempted murder and entering a dwelling with intent in company in December 2022.

One year on, the case has been “frustratingly slow” and Mr Lovell said prosecutors have warned him it may not go to trial until 2025.

He said: “I sometimes feel quite guilty for saying it, but I want the trial to be done.

“It’s hanging over us and I want to move on but then by saying that it almost feels like I’m leaving Emma behind.”

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