Brian and Deborah met at a work induction in July 2014 when they both started working on the factory floor at AB World Foods in Leigh, Greater Manchester. Deborah noticed he was quiet and on his own so she tried to encourage him to come out of his shell and socialise with other colleagues.
They did not see much after that because they both worked different shifts and he rarely socialised but she kept on being friendly whenever she met him and often encouraged him to come out with her and other friends.
“I got to know him very slowly. He lived with his parents and didn’t get out much,” Deborah said. “All of us, not just me, used to encourage him to come out with us. He was very quiet and didn’t have friends, but he seemed perfectly fine.”
In April 2015, Brian quit his job. Unknown to Deborah that he had fallen in love with her, she sent him a polite message wishing him luck in the future then she started dating another colleague, Jonathan Clarke, who was 13 years her junior. A while later, she got a call from Brian and he called her horrible names.
"Why didn’t you tell me you had a boyfriend, you s***?" he said during the call.
Deborah blocked Brian's number after that and deleted him from Facebook, but the verbal attack did not stop. He sent her a Skype message the next day apologising then in December 2015, he sent another message which she ignored. The next day, he sent the same thing. He continued sending her "Hi, how are you?" every day, sometimes even as much as twice a day. She revealed that she got scared after that and thought it best to ignore him.
On Dec 14th 2015, Brian came to Deborah's home in Manchester and demanded that she give him some DVDs she had promised to lend him. As she handed them over, he lunged forward, forcing his way into her hallway while wielding a knife. He attacked her then, stabbing her 20 times in the arms, head and chest. The blade came away from the handle, but instead of stopping, Brian smashed Deborah’s head against a wall and began to strangle her.
"He just kept telling me he hated me. I could feel my life ebbing away but I vowed to myself, ‘I’m not dying today,’” she said. I think instinct kicked in. With one hand, I prised his fingers from my neck and with the other, I punched him hard between the legs. I’m a small person but I put up a good fight. There was no way I was letting him do that.”
After Deborah kicked him, he jumped back in pain then lifted his foot and stamped down hard on Deborah’s neck until she lost consciousness. When she came round, he was gone. She called Jonathan and an ambulance and was rushed to Manchester Royal Infirmary where doctors told her she’d suffered 20 stab wounds, broken her jaw and fractured 16 ribs.
“It was a miracle I survived,” she said. “Brian was quickly arrested. I had so many questions, but mainly, ‘Why me?’ The police came to interview me and I had to go through it all again, every little detail. I was still covered in blood and my hair was matted and horrible.”
Brian pleaded guilty to attempted murder and was sentenced in June 2016 to 15 years in prison with an extended licence of five years. He was also given a lifelong restraining order, banning him from ever contacting her. Deborah, on her part, surprisingly survived the attack, but she has not been the same since then. Speaking about the change the attack has caused in her life, she said:
“To this day, I cannot understand why his obsessive jealousy drove him to attack me. While he’s behind bars my life has been changed forever. Parts of my face are still numb and I find it difficult to chew. I want to be able to forgive and forget but I can’t.”
She's also been having flashbacks of the horrifying attack, has struggled to eat and speak, living instead on protein shakes because chewing is too painful. She is also struggling to maintain a relationship after she split from Jonathan in April 2016.
“Whenever I walked up the stairs, I’d spot bloody splatters on the walls. I couldn’t open the door to strangers or go out. But then I figured this is my home – I’ve lived here 18 years. Why should I move?” she said.
Deborah, now works with charity Animals in Distress, because she doesn't feel well enough to return to work.