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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 November 2006, 23:23 GMT
Lawyer's fiancee tells of pain
Tom ap Rhys Pryce and Adele Eastman
The couple had been due to marry last September

The fiancee of a London lawyer stabbed to death by two teenagers has spoken in court about the "indescribable" pain she feels.

Through a statement read out in court as his killers were being sentenced, Adele Eastman spoke of her heart having been "ripped out" and torn "into pieces" at the loss of Tom ap Rhys Pryce.

Delano Brown, 18, and Donnel Carty, 19, were jailed for life at the Old Bailey.

My name is Adele Eastman. I am the fiancee of Tom ap Rhys Pryce. I have been invited to make a statement on the impact that Tom's murder on 12th January of this year has had on me.

I had hoped I might be able to read my statement from the witness box in open court.

I wanted Carty and Brown to hear directly from me the absolute devastation which they have caused.

I must start by saying that my sense of pain and horror at losing Tom, and in such a brutal way, is literally indescribable.

Humble person

I have found it almost impossible even to try to put it into words, but hope that I manage to convey it at least to some extent through my statement.

Tom was determined from an early age to reach his full potential in life. He worked incredibly hard and made the most of every opportunity available to him.

He gave his best in everything he did and he succeeded. Yet, despite his many achievements, he was the most humble person I have ever known.

In a message left on the tree next to where he died, a friend of ours wrote:

"I remember sitting next to you at our friend's wedding, standing to sing the first hymn, and looking in wonder at you as this pure, amazing voice came out.

I grieve for his loss of life, and for my loss of him. Tom was my best friend, my soul mate

"I had no idea, after so many years of knowing you, how beautifully you sang.

"You were often like that - quietly achieving all these amazing things."

There was still so much more that Tom wanted to achieve and to experience. I grieve for his loss of life and for my loss of him.

Tom was my best friend, my soul mate.

I adored him - I always will. I miss him more than I could ever describe: his beautiful heart, his brilliant mind, his big loving eyes, his gentle voice, his gleeful laugh and quirky sense of humour, his dancing, our chats, and the great fun that we used to have together. I miss us.

We had been together for four years when last October Tom asked me to marry him.

It was the most beautiful moment of my life. I said yes immediately, through tears of joy. We were deeply in love and blissfully happy together.

Wedding plans

One of our friends wrote in his letter of condolence to me: "The love between you was so infectious. It radiated outward and filled everyone around with warmth."

Our plans for our wedding, which was due to be held in Italy in September this year, were going so well and, as with everything, Tom and I planned it together.

We were so excited. The period of our engagement (just three short months) was the happiest time of our lives.

On the day Tom was killed he had made contact with the priest who was due to conduct our wedding ceremony.

Tom ap Rhys Pryce
Mr ap Rhys Pryce worked in the City

He printed off the details he had received that afternoon, together with his wedding vows.

They were found later that night strewn around him on the pavement as the paramedics battled to save his life.

We had felt that the best was yet to come: our wedding, children, and a long and happy marriage.

But it was all only ever to be a dream.

As I ran in and out of our home that night over a period of hours, frantic for news of Tom, as I received the news of his death, as I lay convulsing in shock, Carty and Brown were chatting to their girlfriends on Tom's and Mr Ali's mobile telephones.

The day after Tom's murder, a friend kindly cancelled the appointment I had made to show my mother what would have been my wedding dress.

We then had to wait for a couple of days before being able to identify Tom's body. I could not do it. I could not bear to see Tom dead.

I wanted our last memory of each other to be the same - the wonderful goodbye we had had on the Thursday morning at the train station.

Broken hearted

In a matter of seconds wedding plans and a future together had changed to funeral plans and a lifetime apart.

I will never forget the complete confusion of Tom's three-year-old niece on the day of his funeral: one day being swung through the air and chased around the garden by her beloved Uncle Thomas; the next, there were no more games, there was no more laughter - only tears.

As she sat quietly by his graveside, her little hands gripping hold of the edge, we watched her Uncle Thomas being gently lowered in a "big box" into the ground.

If there was anything left of my heart to break, it broke in that moment. The pain is unlike anything I have ever experienced and unlike anything I could have ever imagined.

I feel as though Carty and Brown have ripped out my heart with their bare hands and torn it, very slowly, into pieces.

Donnel Carty (left) and Delano Brown
Carty and Brown were motivated by "greed"
Witnessing the pain that our families and friends are also suffering only adds to my own.

The waves of devastation caused by Carty's and Brown's greed and bravado roll on and on.

The attack which they carried out on Tom was barbaric. They showed him no mercy and have shown absolutely no remorse since.

They have made the experience even more agonising by refusing to face up to and admit to their crime and by dragging me, our families and friends through a full trial.

Greed fuelled Carty's and Brown's attack on Tom but it is obvious, particularly from the trademark injury which they inflicted on his left leg, that they were also trying to play the 'big man'.

I despair at their deeply misguided sense of logic - because it is not a man who attacks a defenceless person with a knife, or any other weapon, or hunts victims down in a pack - it is a complete coward - someone who lacks the confidence to take someone on an equal footing and instead feels the need to put themselves at an unfair advantage.

What a huge waste of life - not just of Tom's but also of their own - years in prison for an Oyster card and a mobile telephone

There can be no sense of victory for Carty and Brown over Tom - he never stood a chance in the first place. He was alone, defenceless, and a stranger to violence.

I very much doubt that, as children, any of the hopes and aspirations they held for their future included killing a man and yet here they stand convicted of that heinous crime.

What happened along the way for them to become so cruel and hateful towards others and at such a young age?

What a huge waste of life - not just of Tom's but also of their own - years in prison for an Oyster card and a mobile telephone.

How, on any level, could it have been worth it for them?

Tom did his best to make it home that night and he nearly made it.

Hopes and dreams

Although I was not there to help him, or to hold him in his final moments, as I desperately wish I had been, it comforts me to know that as he passed on from this world, he was absolutely safe and secure in the knowledge that it just would not be possible for me to love him any more than I do and will forever.

There are no more tomorrows here for me and Tom and all of our hopes and dreams have been brutally torn away.

I just hope that there is something better for us on the other side. In the meantime, just as hate and bitterness had no place in Tom's life, neither will they in his memory.

I am determined to ensure, along with many others, that as much good as possible comes out of this horrific tragedy, so that I can say to Tom when I see him again, as I believe I will.

My family, Tom's family and I are all so thankful that justice has been done for Tom

"That was the most agonising experience of my life, but everything that you worked so hard to achieve and everything of you that you left behind, was cherished and built upon to touch the lives of others in the way you would have wanted - and it was all done out of our great love for you."

My family, Tom's family and I are all so thankful that justice has been done for Tom.

We are enormously grateful to everyone involved in securing the convictions against Carty and Brown - for their relentless hard work, determination and support.

We especially wish to thank the Metropolitan Police, in particular Teresa Defanis, Steve Smith, Tony Bishop, Paul Webb (our liaison officer), and all the team.

We are also extremely grateful for the meticulous presentation of the prosecution case by Mr Richard Horwell QC, and Mr Simon Dennison.

In addition, we wish to thank Linklaters and Farrer & Co, who we feel could not have been any more supportive to us.



VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Police statement outside the Old Bailey



SEE ALSO
Lawyer's life cut cruelly short
27 Nov 06 |  London
Neighbour 'saw lawyer's murder'
01 Nov 06 |  London

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