Parents to visit Gloucester Prison cell where daughter's killer languished
PRECIOUS photo frames are all that Malcolm and Pat Hall have left to treasure after the death of their beloved daughter Louise.
The mum-of-three was strangled by a jealous lover before she was set on fire on a mattress in her home in Nelson Street, Tredworth, six years ago.
"We opened the door and a police officer was standing there and all I remember was him saying there had been a fire," said Malcolm.
At the time of the fire, Louise's brother Matthew was driving a lorry past Nelson Street and spotted the blaze.
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Pat, 66, said: "He left the lorry in the middle of the road and ran towards the house. Matthew was held back by police. The lorry keys were taken off him and an officer moved it."
At the time of the incident, two of Louise's children were away on a camping trip and were due to return home that day, while one child was at home with his father.
Matthew Bayle, 24, of Leonard Road, Gloucester, was jailed for seven years in November 2008 for the murder.
Bayle, who suffered 15 per cent burns in the fire, took an overdose after strangling Louise.
He then escaped through the ground floor bedroom where Louise's body was left burning.
Malcolm, 66, said: "We begged the officers to see her body but they wouldn't. They said it was best to remember the happy memories. They were going to give us some of Louise's hair but there was none left."
Pat said: "I saw Louise the week before but I spoke to her on the morning she died. We had an extremely close relationship. She was forever helping with the shopping and when we went on holiday we often came back to find the bathroom decorated.
"The night before she was murdered she went out for drink with her brother Matthew and his friend Matthew Bayle. She didn't have the children so she went out. Louise was tired and decided to go home for a nightcap with both Matthews. The boys ended up sleeping on the sofa and then next morning left for work.
"Matthew Bayle decided to return to the house and set her alight. They were not in a relationship.
"Nothing was left – the light fixtures on the ceiling were melted. We were told her body was wrapped in a rug with pieces of laminate flooring on top"
In July this year, the couple received three boxes of items belonging to Louise, mostly picture frames, most of them missing pictures.
Pat, wiping the soot off the frames, said: "What is the point when some of them don't have pictures? They managed to save a baby book which Louise filled and I will give that to the children."
The family celebrated Louise's life at Gloucester Cathedral, where her funeral was held.
Malcolm said: "Her funeral was lovely. I have never seen Gloucester Cathedral so packed."
Louise often took her three children, Luke, now 18, Scott, 17, and Lois, 16, there and went the extra mile for Christmas.
Pat said: "I mentioned it to the reverend about Louise's love for the Cathedral and the next thing I knew she arranged the date."
But for the Halls, Christmas time has never been the same.
Malcolm said: "The three children never went without, the living room looked a tip at Christmas because it was packed with presents from each corner of the room."
Some of the children's presents still remain wrapped and untouched at the couple's house in Barnwood to this day.
Pat, who often glances up at the many photographs of her daughter in her home, said: "Everybody also commented on how smart the children looked."
Despite the agony caused to the family, Pat wants to come face to face with Bayle.
She said: "I want to ask him why he did it. Maybe send him a Christmas card from Louise to see if he has a conscience – to see what his reaction is. In court he had no remorse, he just stared. On one of the days, he had asked the judge for breakfast because he missed it."
Pat and Macolm now want to see where Bayle spent most of his sentence, and will be visiting Gloucester Prison tomorrow.
Pat said: "Maybe it will give me closure. The prison tours will help a lot of families, it is a very good idea. We don't know where Bayle is now but we have heard he is due for parole this year.
"It is also a chance for Macolm to see what a cell is like as his sister and niece were murdered more than 20 years ago."
Six years on, Louise's presence can still be felt in the room and she is fondly remembered by her brothers Matthew, 34, Julian, 46, and sister Raquel, 44.
Malcolm carries a keyring with Louise's picture on, while Pat keeps one in her handbag.
The living room is full of happy pictures and Louise's three children often visit.
Pat said: "They live with their dad now, only 10 minutes away, but Louise would have been proud. Lois is at sixth form training to be a forensic photographer and the boys work.
"Lois has just had her prom and she looked beautiful in her red dress."
Malcolm said: "They eat a lot and are very tall."
Pat and Malcolm, who have fostered 47 children, says it keeps them occupied.
Pat added: "It is always on our mind but sometimes it really comes back. I was watching Casualty and they showed a burnt body.
"But we will continue to stay strong. We spend a lot of time in our garden and maybe next year we will visit Raquel in Australia."