Stevenage murder trial: Mum’s last words to daughter were ‘stay strong’

Amelia Arnold

Amelia Arnold - Credit: Archant

A MOTHER’S last words to her daughter, were “stay strong”, a murder trial heard today (Thursday).

Jurors at Blackfriars Crown Court heard how Amelia Arnold, 19, had deteriorated since beginning an “abusive” relationship with defendant Jack Wall, 22, who she lived with in Stevenage.

Fighting back tears in the witness stand, Miss Arnold’s mother Amanda Joy said her daughter had been left “skeletal” as she coped with a catalogue of psychological and, as she later learned, physical, abuse.

The seven men and five women on the jury heard Mrs Joy had watched her daughter’s decline from a “bubbly” and “fun” person, to one who was “angry” and “stressed”, and had suffered drastic weightloss.

Mrs Joy said she first became aware of her daughter’s relationship with murder-accused Jack Wall in early 2011 after she had passed her GCSEs and started a hairdressing course at college.

She said Miss Arnold had kept the relationship secret and was reticent to introduce her boyfriend to her.

She went on to outline the transformation in her daughter’s personality, which she described as “a complete change”.

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“She started to tell lies and she started to go off the rails a bit and became increasingly difficult to live with,” she said.

She also said how Wall had barely spoken to her whenever he was in her home, and did not even bother to “poke his head around the corner to say hello”.

She conceded that Miss Arnold was “completely smitten” with Wall, and if she ever spoke about him in negative terms her daughter would “moan” and “shout” at her.

The court heard Miss Arnold fell behind in her course and failed to complete it.

Mrs Joy described how she learned her daughter was pregnant, and had moved into a self-contained housing unit for new mums in Wellfield Road, Stevenage.

Initially Miss Arnold was not living with Wall, who was the father of their daughter Lexi, and was coping well.

She said her daughter was adept at managing a budget and was “a fantastic mother”.

But she said problems began shortly after Wall moved in with them at another home, a “two up, two down” in Hadrian’s Walk, Stevenage.

She said he had moved weightlifting equipment including dumbbells into the house.

Soon after the couple began living together, her daughter’s personality had changed again as she started worrying about bills.

The court heard Wall allegedly contributed nothing to the household budget from his disability benefit, leaving Miss Arnold struggling to afford nappies, causing “friction”.

It was at this point that she said her daughter’s appearance had radically altered and she shed “a lot of weight”.

She said how Wall owed various people money and it strained the budget.

At the end of September last year Mrs Joy said her daughter “came to realise that things were not going to get better”, and she no longer believed the “picture in her mind that it would be a happy family”.

She said at this point Miss Arnold had lost so much weight she was “almost skeletal” and was “clearly stressed”.

She went on to describe how Wall was verbally abusive and had allegedly burgled Mrs Joy’s home and had told Miss Arnold he had another “as he put it, skank on the go in Welwyn Garden City”.

She said the relationship became more abusive and there were “punch marks” and holes in the doors at the home in Hadrian’s Walk.

She said of Wall: “He just wanted to control everything.

“He wanted to control her and the money, everything.”

Miss Arnold eventually resolved to end the relationship on what she hoped would be amicable grounds as she wanted to avoid any “backlash”.

Mrs Joy said her daughter gave her number out police and social services staff to stop Wall finding out her intentions.

She said further rows had ensued when Miss Arnold had said she wanted to end the relationship and they were exacerbated when it emerged Miss Arnold’s was the sole name on the tenancy agreement.

Recalling the last time she saw her daughter, Mrs Joy said she had driven Amelia back the house in Hadrian’s Walk.

She said: “When I left her this is the last image I have got in my head and she did look scared, and I said to her ‘stay strong’.”

She was informed Miss Arnold was missing on November 9 by police who visited her at work.

The teenager’s body was later discovered in a shallow grave in Travellers Lane, Hatfield, and bloodstained carpet was found in Hollybush Lane, Welwyn Garden City.

The trial continues.