A grieving mum has described her devastation at having to tell her little girl her ‘other mammy’ was killed in a knife attack at a TUI travel agents.
Leah Mcdonald says she has been left “completely dead inside” after her former partner, Cassie Hayes, was allegedly murdered in the store.
Cassie, 28, is reported to have had her ‘throat slit by an assailant’ during the attack in Southport, Merseyside. She tragically died later in hospital.
She and Leah, who met 10 and a half years ago and “absolutely loved each other” – are thought to have had a young daughter together.
Although they eventually split, Cassie has been described as a “rock” to her former partner and an amazing “mammy” to their child.
Last night, Leah described how the youngster was “laughing and messing around”, unaware that one of her beloved parents had died.
She wrote on Facebook: “I am completely dead inside my little baby is laughing and messing around its killing me that i have to tell her that her mammy has died the one person [she] adored.”
She added that Cassie “has always been the one” she has turned to over the past 11 years, helping her through her “darkest days”.
“I am just heartbroken,” she said.
In another post this morning, Leah revealed how her ex-partner had moved to her own hometown from Northumberland to be with her.
“There are no words to describe the pain i have woken with this morning! i just want to rip my heart out from my chest,” she wrote.
“I can not bare it (sic),” she added.
Cassie, described by former colleagues as a “lovely person”, was working in the TUI store when she was attacked in front of terrified shoppers.
Police say it is believed the incident was domestic-related.
A 30-year-old man, from the St Helens area, has been arrested on suspicion of murder. He is currently being held in custody.
In a statement yesterday, Merseyside Police said: “Officers were contacted at 1.25pm following reports that a 28 year-old woman had been injured at the Tui travel agents on Chapel Street. The woman was taken to hospital where she subsequently died from her injuries.
“The woman’s next of kin have been informed.”
Just hours after the incident, Leah took to Facebook to promise Cassie that she would look after their daughter “the best I can”.
She wrote: “My absolute world i love you so so much have done since we first met i promise i will look after our girl the best i can.”
Other tributes were flooding social media last night.
Friend Helen Harper posted on Facebook that she was “shocked and heartbroken” – while another user, Tanya Gaffney, described Cassie as “such a lovely lady”.
And Rebecca Spencer wrote: “So sorry to hear this news, such a lovely person and will be sadly missed xx.”
Witnesses described seeing a woman being brought out on a stretcher and put in an ambulance following the attack.
Delivery driver Rich Lawson was dropping off a package at the nearby Vision Express shop when he was allegedly ushered in and locked inside by staff.
The 27-year-old recalled: “She was covered up but I could see blood on her face. There was a lot of blood and she looked like she was unconscious. I overheard a lady wearing a TUI uniform on the phone.
“She was shaking and said her throat was slit.
“When I went back to my van and drove past the police riot van was up against the door. It looked like they were bringing a man out.”
Teams of police and two air ambulances descended on the scene immediately after the incident, while onlookers said they initially saw armed officers flood the busy town centre parade.
Holiday giant TUI confirmed in a statement that a female staff member had died as a result of the attack at its premises.
A cordon was erected around the travel agent, while witnesses said two air ambulances landed at nearby Marine Lake.
Police said a man had been detained at the scene, the Liverpool Echo reported.
One eyewitness said: “I was walking past when they were rushing to get the woman into the ambulance.
”There was a lady from the travel agent shaking outside the shop, and lots of police around who had just arrived.”
She added: ”I don’t think it was a shooting. I was further down Chapel Street and didn’t hear any gunshot.”
Taking to Twitter, Luke Chandley described how there are about 10 police vehicles at the scene, as well as an ambulance.
He wrote: “Mad stuff going down in Southport. About 10 police vehicles, one van backed in to Thompson’s. An ambulance too. What a mad day.”
Video footage showed huge crowds gathering around the cordon, set up on one of the busiest shopping streets in the town centre.
A spokesman for the North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust confirmed to Mirror Online yesterday that a woman had been taken to hospital.
He said: “We got a call at 1.27pm to Chapel Street and we have sent numerous resources, including two air ambulances, a land ambulance and a couple of our advance paramedics.
“One patient was taken to Southport Hospital.”
A statement from TUI said: “We regret to confirm that a female member of staff at our Southport TUI retail store tragically died in an incident today.
“We send our deepest sympathies to the friends and family of the staff member involved.
“We’re doing everything possible to assist the local police with their investigation and support our customers and staff at this difficult time.”