Murdered Norfolk mum's bravery has helped family through their darkest days
- Credit: Archant
The heartbroken family of a woman stabbed to death by her former husband almost a year ago have described how her bravery has helped them through their darkest days.
Police were called to Northside House, a derelict former mental health hospital at Thorpe St Andrew, at around 12.45pm on Friday, June 19 last year after mother-of-three Gemma Cowey had been found with serious injuries.
Emergency services attended the site, off Yarmouth Road, but despite treatment the 38-year-old died at the scene.
She was stabbed more than 20 times by her former partner Michael Cowey, who had said he wanted to talk to her, but instead confronted her about relationship issues.
He took two knives he had hidden in his socks and stabbed Gemma in her back, neck and chest.
Just days away from that devastating anniversary, Gemma's family, including mother Linda, 61, sisters Kimberley, 28, and Joanne 36, have issued a statement telling of their "most painful" year without her.
The statement said: "We are coming up to June 19, a year to the day that Gemma was brutally murdered.
"At this difficult time, we are forcing our minds to change focus from the horror, to beautiful memories we have of Gemma.
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"The support our friends have given has been a lifeline to us all.
"The first year is said to be ‘the most painful’.
"We went to court, we listened quietly in tears to the pathologist's chronology of events.
"The last minutes of Gemma’s life were in terror, she was heard screaming loudly for ‘some time’ Gemma was trapped in a small derelict building, not the one portrayed in the news reports.
"Facing the firsts of everything without Gemma is emotionally consuming. We are exhausted.
"Gemma’s birthday, Mother’s Day, Christmas, Gemma’s children’s birthdays, their first day of starting school.
"Kacie (Gemma's eldest daughter) receiving her GCSE exam results, Kacie starting driving lessons. Milestones that a mother deserves to celebrate with her children, and vice versa."
The family looked to celebrate Gemma's birthday together during lockdown and had a service conducted in Trowse which included an emotional tribute which gave them comfort as they cried together.
They also bought birthday cards and left them at Whitlingham Broad as "this was the last place we walked with Gemma and the children".
In December last year Michael Cowey, then 49, and of Dragoon Close, Thorpe St Andrew, was jailed for 23 years after he previously admitted Gemma's murder as well as possession of knives.
Gemma's family said: "Justice will never ever be served in our eyes, because nothing can bring Gemma back.
"We are forced to live with the loss of Gemma and it’s not a loss we can comprehend.
"Murder is something we cannot accept and make peace with."
They added: "The domestic homicide review is ongoing. This review will identify any failings that lead to Gemma’s death and make recommendations for improvements going forward."
The family now want to "change the laws that have undermined our human rights in favour of perpetrators human rights" and are campaigning to remove the parental rights of murderers when they have killed the other parent of the children.
Gemma's sisters and eldest daughter helped to raise almost £3,000 for domestic violence charity Refuge in February and want to do more for abuse charities in the future.
Kimberley said the run "was one of our proudest moments" adding that it was Gemma's "strength and bravery" that kept them running through their grief and snow, ice and freezing weather.
"I couldn’t save my sister and the guilt haunts me every day, I lay awake some nights crying, looking through our pictures.
"I have some form of comfort now that Gemma is forever with me in a ring on my finger which is absolutely beautiful."
She added: "I will always admire my sister for her courage and bravery. She fought for her children until the very end.
"Thinking of Gemma’s bravery and strength is what kept me going through the darkest days.
"I was determined to not let evil take anything else from me."
Log onto https://www.change.org/p/domestic-abuse-commissioner-nicole-jacobs-murderers-to-be-stripped-of-parental-responsibility-rights-at-the-point-of-sentencing to find out more about the petition.