Winsford mum Sam Tolley lost her four little boys in 2033 when their father, Keith Young, forced her to listen on the phone has he took their lives before killing himself. A memorial garden was set up for the four boys – Joshua, seven, Thomas, six, Callum, five, and Daniel, three – but Ms Tolley was horrified to arrive at the memorial this week to find it “trashed.”
“How can they do this and get away with it? No warning to tell me, I turn up and looks like this. I was told the garden under no circumstances would be touched, devastated isn’t the word.”
An inquest at the time of the horrific murders was told how Ms Tolley listened helplessly at home as her husband put their eldest son Joshua on the phone.
The terrified child obeyed his father’s order: “Say goodbye to your Mum – tell her you love her.”
Mr Young had driven the children to a beauty spot near Llangollen, North Wales, and gassed them by running a petrol lawnmower in the back of the family car.
The couple were separated, but Mr Young was seeing the boys on an access visit.
Ms Tolley had recently told him that she was pregnant by another man, and phoned Mr Young on the night of the murders, March 27, after hearing that he had threatened to kill the boys.
He repeated his threat over the phone, and later called her back, saying: “I hope you are happy. I hope you have a grudge against that baby for the rest of your life.”
The inquest heard how Ms Tolley, in a desperate bid to save her children’s lives, told Mr Young that she would get rid of the baby if he came home and they could make it work.
North East Wales coroner John Hughes, reading from Ms Tolley’s evidence, said at the inquest: “He said ‘It’s too late, you would have me arrested’.
“You said “It’s not too late’. He said ‘It is too late, Dan’s dead’.”
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Miss Tolley then heard nothing for around 20 minutes as she screamed down the telephone, trying to wake her husband or the boys.
The next voices she heard were those of police officers who found the vehicle, but everyone inside was already dead. A Home Office pathologist found that they had all died as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning.
The developers who have “trashed” the boys’ memorial garden had agreed to meet up with Sam to discuss plans of how the new memorial garden would look when it was completed – but this did not happen.
Instead, work began without consultation from all parties. Linden Homes said there had been some confusion regarding the start of the work due to a changeover of personnel on the site and that the garden was to be kept “in situ” until the revised plans were agreed on by all parties.
A spokesperson for Vistry Group which incorporates Linden Homes said: “A new memorial garden is being created, retaining the existing wall and incorporating Sam’s ideas, such as the inclusion of tractors within the design in tribute to her sons. There will also be an ornamental tree with a special memorial plaque, four more trees to symbolise the boys, and benches for people to sit and reflect.
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“We met with Sam at the site in August to discuss the plans but we are sorry if there has been any misunderstanding about the timescales of that work that has caused upset – and we have a meeting with Sam and Winsford Mayor Cllr Nathan Pardoe on Thursday to go through the design and the timetable.
“Currently the overgrown vegetation is being cleared as the land is prepared for work to start on the new garden next month, with the intention that Sam continues to be involved in this process throughout.”
Cllr Pardoe, mayor of Winsford, said: “The most important thing is that the wishes of the family continue to be incorporated into plans for reinstatement, with this in mind I’ll be attending a site visit along with Sam and Linden Homes.
“All involved want to see a memorial garden that remembers Joshua, Thomas, Callum and Daniel appropriately. Linden Homes must deliver on its promise to protect their memory by restoring the garden and work closely with Sam to reinstate it with care and sensitivity.”
A meeting has been arranged for this week with Linden Homes, Cllr Nathan Pardoe, Cheshire West and Chester Council and Sam Tolley to sort out the situation and make clear what Sam’s wishes are for the revised memorial garden.