Julian Bywater is cross-examining Ursula who tells the court that of fears for Henry’s safety. She lays it on thick, saying Helen’s family didn’t help, and with Rob out at work, how could Helen cope with a new baby – “even with anti-depressants”. She goes on to say how Helen went ‘berserk’ when she found out and threatened to kill Rob.
Next it’s Pat’s turn. JB gets her to repeat exactly what Helen said when she threatened Rob – exactly what she had said in her statement: “I swear I’ll kill him”. Then much to Pat’s surprise, he has no other questions. Cue another session of hand wringing outside the court as Tony runs after her – more of the “I let Helen down” that we’ve been accustomed to because “I had all these things I wanted to say”. Still getting ‘witness box’ confused with ‘soap box’ Pat?
Then Helen takes the stand. Earlier we heard from Anna that Helen “knows this is her moment” and our anticipation rises. Under questioning by Anna, she sounds more confident that we’ve heard her sound for a very long time. She talks about how Rob came to control everything, even down to whether she should give birth at home or in hospital, and how Ursula sided with him. Still sounding extraordinarily calm and measured, Helen recounts the events at Easter when Rob disciplined Henry for eating chocolate by throwing his favourite soft toy away.
And just while we’re hanging on Helen’s every word, Pat starts talking to Tony about how well she’s doing, and then arguing with Ursula – shut up Pat, we’re trying to listen!
And then we get to Helen’s account of the fateful night when she stabbed Rob. How he told her that she shouldn’t have been allowed to have children, shouldn’t have brought Henry into the world, and how he forced the kitchen knife into her hand saying there was only one way she could leave, and that was by killing herself.
With some emotion now, Helen talks about how Henry appeared in the doorway and pleaded with them both to stop fighting. Fearing for Henry’s safety as Rob moved towards him, Helen acted instinctively. Rob knocked over a saucepan of custard on his way down while Helen rushed over to Henry, who had of course seen everything. Just as things are really getting going, there’s an interruption as Anna’s assistant needs to consult with her. Anna reads a short note and all we hear is “she’s with him now”?
Turning back to the case, Anna seems wrong-footed for a moment, but quickly recovers and submits a record of Helen’s call to a domestic violence help line 10 days before the incident. Helen’s reluctant to talk about it and starts to break down. A cry of “darling I’m here” from Pat angers the judge and Anna presses Helen to disclose why she made the call – what was it that she couldn’t talk to her closest friend about, that she could only tell a stranger on the end of a phone?
“Mum, Dad. I’m so sorry. Rob raped me – and not just once. It happened over and over again”.
How will this revelation change the course of the trial, and who was Anna’s assistant referring to? Is it going to be good news for the defence – or the prosecution?
The HelenTitchener (nee Archer) Rescue Fund - “raising money for Refuge because for every fictional Helen, there are real ones” - which at the time of writing has raised over £137,000.