Written by Katerina Diamond

When I was a teenager, I lived in a small seaside town in Devon called Sidmouth. It was picturesque, with large red cliffs flanking the Victorian promenade. I probably appreciate the beauty of it more now that I’m older - at the time though I was quite a bitter and miserable teen. As with all small towns it had its problems, not least of all that there was nothing for the younger generation to do. We would hang out at bus stops or along the sea front in the shelters with little bottles of cider. As I lived above my Aunt and Uncles rather large fish and chip shop, I often spent time in there. I would sit at the table and listen to people’s conversations or just people watch. There were several regulars, particularly in the mornings, who would sit near the staff table and chat to the ladies who worked in the mornings on their breaks. 

There was one lady who used to come in with her children. Pamela. I remember her for various reasons, but she also stood out because she was veryattractive. She had long blonde hair that reached down to her hips. Her children were a few years younger than me but quite sweet and quiet, a boy and a girl. She would wear long sleeved, high neck tops with floor length gypsy skirts, her hair always in a modest half up and half down and apart from a touch of mascara, no make-up at all. She would sit on the table next to the staff table sometimes and chat with some of the other regulars. She had a lovely smile. That’s all I remember about her. 

Everyone noticed a change in Pamela one summer. She had started wearing short skirts, bright coloured vest tops, jewellery and make- up. I remember her bright red lipstick. She was more confident and outgoing than she used to be, many people commented on it. She told everyone her husband had gone away on business ‘up north’. Without him around her, behaviour and demeaner was different. Even her children seemed a lot happier than the quiet shy children that sat in the corner and said nothing. 

One day our quiet seaside town was shaken with the news that the dismembered body of a man had been found hidden in a ditch in five separate bags.  No head was ever found. Apparently Pamela had confessed to a friend that she had killed her husband eight months earlier.  Her friend felt compelled to tell the police. This lead to the discovery of the body in a ditch 250 metres from her house. To say that everyone was shocked by this was an understatement. She just didn’t seem the type, whatever the type is. 

Pamela was arrested and charged with murder. During the trial, the facts that came out painted a picture of abuse that was hard to stomach. Pamela was literally treated like a dog by her husband, he even had a leash for her which he would tie her up outside with when he was displeased with her. She was forced to be his table by standing on all fours naked while he put his hot dinner plate on her back and ate. The police discovered a cupboard full of bondage equipment that he regularly used to keep her in line. He was physically, psychologically and sexually abusive towards her. He was violent and unhinged and she bore the brunt of his temper. He was branded a monster by anyone who heard the full details of Pamela’s daily life. 

One night, Pamela waited until her common-law husband was asleep and took a plumb line out of his tool box. She wrapped it around the bedpost and then around his neck, she pulled on it until he died. She put his body in the wardrobe while she figured out what to do next. Two days later she dismembered him and placed his body in five separate bags and dumped it over the next few days. She kept his head in a cupboard for months apparently, simply to reassure herself that he was definitely dead. After hearing Pamela’s account of what happened, the jury convicted her of manslaughter due to diminished responsibility and no time was served.

I often think about Pamela and her poor children. I wonder if any of us would have behaved differently in those horrific circumstances. No one had ever considered that something so awful could happen right under our noses, it always happens somewhere else, not to people you know. The story serves to remind me that you can never really know what happens behind closed doors, that someone you know could be living with the darkest of secrets. 


Katerina Diamond’s gripping new thriller, The Heatwave, publishes in all formats on 25 June. 
©2020 Katerina Diamond


Katerina Diamond

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