'Rachael was wonderful. She was outgoing, bubbly, fun loving, confident, hilarious and intelligent. She was much loved. She had a huge circle of friends and was very caring, but to a fault.
'She was the last person you would've thought to have been subject to what came to light.'
Melony Slack's kind words are about her sister-in-law, Rachael, 38. A mother, loyal friend and greatly loved person. But behind her smile she was living in fear of her ex partner, Andrew Cairns, 44.
Rachael Slack and her son Auden were stabbed to death by Andrew Cairns in 2010
After their deaths, two IPCC reports, a Serious Case Review, an inquest and NHS investigation were conducted into their deaths
In 2010, Andrew, who was suffering from depression, stabbed their son Auden, 23 months, in front of Rachael. He then stabbed her to death before turning the knife on himself. To many the incident was a horrendous shock. However Melony, who is married to Rachael's brother Hayden, reveals signs of domestic abuse were there early on.
Andrew and Rachael’s relationship traces back to Ronda, Spain, in 2004, where Rachael was working as an artist and Andrew owned a gallery.
The relationship was positive at first but later on Rachael returned England to find a new job and called time on the romance.
'She was very fond of Andrew but she felt he didn't want to commit. She also found that what he wanted from life was not what she wanted,’ Melony said.
Two years later, in 2007, Andrew went to Rachael's birthday party. Despite the fact they were not together anymore, they were friendly towards each other.
In the December, Rachael announced she pregnant with his child.
According to Office for National Statistics and Refuge, the national domestic violence charity:One in four women experiences domestic violence in her lifetime Two women are killed each week by a current or former partner in England and Wales In the year ending March 2016, 1.2 million women reported experiences of domestic abuse in England and Wales In 2013-15, four times more women than men were killed by their partner/ex-partner
Melony Slack says: 'Over the last seven years we have had to endure four reports into a number of state failures to respond to the domestic violence experienced by Rachael and Auden.
'With each of those reports we have repeatedly been told that lessons have been learnt and that the state agencies have changed their practices.
'But still two women are killed every week in England and Wales alone; women just like Rachael.
'Every year there is a report into what improvements the 43 police forces across the country are making in the way they respond to domestic violence – and the progress is woeful. What has really changed?
'Hayden and I will continue to champion change and we will continue our work with Refuge to raise awareness of this insidious and pernicious issue that takes and ruins so many lives.
'If our story can reach just one woman like Rachael and one child like Auden, and encourage them to access support from Refuge, then the last seven years of taking on the system will have been worth it.'
Melony said: 'Rach and Andrew still weren't in a relationship but she wanted to keep Andrew in the baby's life.'
Much to Rachael's surprise, Andrew one day turned up at her house in Wessington, Derbyshire, saying he hadn't got anywhere to live, so Rachael felt obligated to let him move in. When the lease ran out on that property, they moved in with Jean, Rachael's mother.
'There was a huge pressure on everybody. Andrew's depressed state worsened the more Rachael was involved with the baby. My mother-in-law said Andrew would often say he wanted to kill himself but never told the mental health services,' Melony said.
On July 15, 2008, Auden was born.
While Rachael was delighted with his arrival, Andrew continued to suffer with his mental health. She found him supported housing to live in and he moved out.
Melony said: 'We didn't realise how much it was affecting her. We thought she wanted to support him but she felt she had to. He was pulling the wool over her eyes about his illness. She found out he was lying about other things like not having food in his house, where he was born, previous jobs and qualifications.
'She didn't feel comfortable around him and was treading on eggshells. Ever since Andrew had come back into her life the light seemed to have gone out in Rach.'
'When Auden was tiny, she’d said “I’m scared, Mel. I’m scared of what Andrew’s capable of”. I felt so guilty I’d dismissed her fears, putting them down to her being a new mum.
The pair broke up and Rachael moved to Holbrook as an opportunity to 'start again'. In 2009 she reconnected with her childhood sweetheart, Robert Barlow, on Facebook and the pair began dating. Rachael became pregnant again and was expecting a boy.
Robert said: ‘Andrew was manipulating her, but because she was such a big hearted person she was trying to do the right thing by being there for him.
‘The professional bodies didn’t see it. They didn’t support her and didn’t let her be his carer when she applied for it.'
Despite her new life, she continued to care for Andrew by taking him to his appointments and buying groceries for him.
Melony said: 'She prepared to tell Andrew about the pregnancy in May 2010 but he didn't take it well.'
On May 26, Rachael drove Andrew to a police station because he refused to get out of her car. Detectives arrested him and he was sectioned under the Mental Health Act. A psychiatrist assessed him as being of no risk to others and low risk to himself. He was released. The next day, he rang her 21 times and turned up at her home, demanding to see Auden. During a trip to the park, he threatened her.
'You are a f***ing b**ch for abandoning me and getting together with someone else and getting pregnant,' Andrew said. 'I gave up everything to be with you. You have no idea what I am capable of – I will kill you and take Auden.'
Robert said: ‘After his threats to kill, she came and picked me up from work with him in the car. I realised she didn’t want to be in the car with him alone.
‘We dropped him off home and then rode around the block. She broke down in tears and told me what he said. We went to the police and he was arrested.’
Andrew (left) and Rachael’s relationship traces back to Ronda, Spain, in 2004, where Rachael was working as an artist and Andrew owned a gallery
Two years later, in 2007, Andrew went to Rachael's birthday party. Despite the fact they were not together anymore, they were friendly towards each other. In the December, Rachael announced she pregnant with his child, Auden (right is the last photograph taken of him in May 2010)
Officers called Rachael the next day to tell her Andrew was being bailed, but they did not tell her she and Auden were at high risk of being murdered.
On June 2, 2010, Andrew visited his GP. 'Today is going to be the most important day of your career,' he said. He then took a bus and hitchhiked to Rachel's house.
Screams were soon heard by a neighbour who saw Rachael at a window with the 'shadow of a man standing behind her.' Police arrived at the scene and found Andrew slumped on top of her with a knife lying between them. Auden was nearby.
He had a faint pulse and was airlifted to the Royal Derby Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival. His parents died at the scene.
Robert arrived shortly afterwards and saw the bodies lying on the floor.
Melony and Hayden are pictured holding photographs of Auden and Rachael
Over the next seven years, he and Rachael's family would be