Mum will always grieve for Lorraine

FROM the moment Maureen Baldwin met Terence Abbott she did not want her young, pretty daughter Lorraine to be with him.But headstrong and independent she married him and stayed with him even when her life descended into a spiral of violence and fear.

By Jessica Nicholls

FROM the moment Maureen Baldwin met Terence Abbott she did not want her young, pretty daughter Lorraine to be with him.

But headstrong and independent she married him and stayed with him even when her life descended into a spiral of violence and fear.

Like so many violent marriages, the happy go lucky teenager eventually became a broken woman - but no one could have ever predicted the dreadful events that led to her horrific death in May last year.

She had recently fought breast cancer, but the fight against Abbott was one that she could never win.

Despite a desperate five week fight for life, after Abbott turned her into a human fireball, Lorraine died in the burns unit at Broomfield Hospital, in Chelmsford.

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After a huge row, Abbott had followed 42-year-old Lorraine, a mum of four and grandmother of three, to her aunt's house in Kestrel Road, Ipswich, where she was seeking refuge from his vicious anger.

But Lorraine did not stand a chance as Abbott punched her several times and then threw a can of petrol over her body, before setting light to her and covering her body with the burns that would eventually kill her.

Sitting in her Chantry home, 65-year-old Maureen Baldwin cuts a tiny figure as she recalls the dreadful events of that day.

But her small frame belies the anger that is stored inside and the hate she feels for the man who killed her daughter … who was also her best friend.

Mrs Baldwin said: "She was my daughter but she was always a good friend and we rarely went out without one another.

"She came to live with me when she was diagnosed with breast cancer - she was very strong when she found out.

"She was so strong for me and told me not to cry - she was so brave, you would not believe how brave one person could be."

Mrs Baldwin smiles as she remembers how Lorraine lost all her hair but wore a wig to cover it.

She said: "She went out one night and her hair was just beginning to grow back in really tight curls.

"She still had the wig on and one guy said to her that he really liked her hair - so she took the wig off and told him he could have it if he liked it."

In the trial, Abbott claimed that Lorraine had had affairs with other men, but Mrs Baldwin refuses to believe this is true.

Intimate details of their lives were laid bare with names and addresses of Lorraine's alleged lovers, broadcast for the court to hear.

But she will not believe it and is determined to quash the revelations which have shocked those who knew and loved Lorraine.

She claims that soon after their second child Tassi, now 18, was born, Abbott would lock Lorraine in the house while he went to work.

While Abbott admitted during his trial hitting Lorraine three times during their relationship, the tears are not far away as Mrs Baldwin recalls time after time of finding her daughter beaten black and blue.

One day she said she had not seen Lorraine for a few days and went round to their home to see if she was alright.

She said: "Terry let me in the door and my daughter was sitting on the settee still in her dressing gown.

"She could barely lift her head to look at me and when she did I could not believe it … her face was black."

Despite their troubles the couple had four children, Tanya, now 19, Tassi 18, Tara, eight, and Travis 13.

The youngsters grew up with their parents fighting and often tried to intervene.

On another occasion, Mrs Baldwin said that Tanya had been on her way home and had heard screaming and shouting coming from her house.

Mrs Baldwin said: "She ran to the front door and looked through the letter box and could see Lorraine on the floor with Terry kicking her.

"Tara (who was then around five years old) was lying on top of her mum and then tried to run to the front door but he picked her up and threw her on to the settee."

She said that one of the girls had to steer the wheel of the car for Lorraine so they could escape as she could not move.

Again he had accused Lorraine of having an affair but on this occasion she managed to escape with four cracked ribs.

The couple had split up many times but possessive Abbott had always followed Lorraine about during the break ups, wearing her down until she had him back.

Mrs Baldwin said: "He just would not leave her alone.

"If she went to the shops he was there - he followed my daughter absolutely everywhere she went.

"When they used to go to the pub together he was always touching her and lots of people thought that it was a caring gesture but she knew different."

It seemed to Mrs Baldwin that each time Abbott hurt her, the stronger Lorraine got and eventually began to fight back.

In court it came out that Lorraine would resort to clenched fists and scratching with her nails as she fought off Abbott.

Their marriage eventually ended once and for all when they divorced in 1999.

Abbott was awarded custody of the children because, according to Mrs Baldwin, he had stayed in the marital home and Lorraine was living in a mobile home.

She said: "Sometimes he would not let her see or speak to her children and that really upset her."

Abbott has torn the once happy Baldwin family apart - her two brothers Glenn, 43, and Wayne, 36, have been devastated by the death of their cherished sister.

Lorraine's own children too have been split apart. Tanya has taken in Tara to live with her while Tassi has taken in Travis.

Tassi gave evidence in support of her father at the trial and Mrs Baldwin said it is a long time since she has seen all her grandchildren together.

She also recalled how the family was so close that when her three children were younger, Lorraine would iron Glenn's clothes for him when he went out on a Friday night.

Although the family did not like Abbott for the way he treated Lorraine they always stuck by her whatever she decided to do, and like it or not, Abbott became one of the family.

But Mrs Baldwin said: "At the end of the day he betrayed us.

"Whenever Lorraine was here he was usually here and he betrayed us."

Even on the day Lorraine was attacked, Mrs Baldwin did what any other mother would do and fought like she had never fought before to save her daughter.

She told how Lorraine had been living at her house in Goldcrest Road but had locked herself in when Abbott had been trying to get in touch with her.

When Mrs Baldwin got home from work as a care assistant at a nursing home in Hawthorn Drive she found the house locked up, so had to go round the back.

She had not realised she had left the key in the back door and Abbott burst in.

The two women ran to Lorraine's car intending to see her daughter Tanya but it was too far away and decided to go to Mrs Baldwin's sister Janet Dighton, in nearby Kestrel Drive.

Mrs Baldwin said: "Terry took a petrol can out of the boot of his car and said this is for you.

"Then he followed us bumper to bumper to my sisters.

"He looked vicious - we were so frightened."

She then told how they parked as close as they could to the Dighton's door but Abbott had driven his car so close to Lorraine's that she had to scramble over the passenger seat to get out.

Mrs Baldwin said: "The next thing I knew he had pushed me to one side and was punching Lorraine.

"I grabbed his hair and he tried to shake me off but I would not let go.

"We both ended up on the ground with him on top of me - he scrambled to his feet but Lorraine had not moved, she was just dazed.

"I looked up and just saw a ball of flame."

The flames were so large that when Lorraine ran into her aunt's bathroom no-one could get near her to turn the shower on.

In the end, she ran back out into the garden.

Mrs Baldwin said: "I was just shouting at her to get on the ground and roll as it had been raining.

"I tried to get my coat around her but I could not get close."

Now the court case is over and Abbott is serving a life sentence, the family must start another chapter in their lives but Mrs Baldwin said at the moment she cannot bear to look at the future.

She lost her husband ??????? five years ago, Lorraine has a memorial stone in the same plot as his, but said she has had tremendous support from the rest of the family.

This brave and stoical woman sat everyday apart from one, in the trial at Norwich Crown Court hearing the circumstances of her darling daughter's death.

She said: "I did not go in when the pathologist was giving evidence and I could not go in there to hear the verdict - I waited outside.

"I was pleased with the verdict but it will not bring her back.

"My family have been such a support to me and I hate to be alone now."

Mrs Baldwin has no idea what she would do if she ever came face to face with Abbott again - she has torn his face from the wedding photos as she can no longer bear to look at him.

And no wonder - he is the man who destroyed her daughter and her family and she will never, ever forgive him.