Monthly Archives: October 2014

There is no doubt that there are some books you wish didn’t have to read and, by extension that, as a writer, you wish you didn’t need to write, and that’s certainly been true of Bye Mam, I Love You, Sonia Oatley’s heartrending account of the murder of her 15 year old daughter Rebecca Aylward by her then 16 year old former boyfriend, Joshua Davies. It was also a hard book to persuade a publisher to buy, perhaps for the very reasons I mentioned above.

l_oatleyHaving been bought by wonderful (and sensitive) publishers John Blake, however, the readers have proved what we all suspected, that, however harrowing a read, it IS a story that people want to hear about. It took enormous courage for Sonia to revisit the darkest place in her soul, but the readers’ responses have made it clear that it was a journey worth going on. So many people have subsequently reached out to connect with the Oatley family, the image of Becca burning brightly – and no doubt enduringly – in their minds.

Sonia had two goals in deciding to write Bye Mam, I Love You; to tell the truth behind a horrific and inexplicable murder (and, by extension, about her murderer) and, perhaps more importantly, to keep her beloved daughters’s memory alive. Ghostwriting is my job, of course, so any book doing well is always going to give me a buzz. But it’s especially heartening to know that this job – one with many emotional and creative challenges –  has turned out to be doing just that.

Bye Mam, I Love You

Sonia Oatley with Lynne Barrett-Lee

On Saturday, 23 October 2010, Sonia Oatley waved off her 15-year-old daughter, Becca, to meet Joshua Davies, a former boyfriend. Becca’s hope was that the two of them would get back together, but it was not to be. By 3pm, oddly, she stopped answering her mobile. By 7.30 she was officially declared missing. And at 10am the following morning, while Sonia and the family were out searching, came the call that is every parent’s worst nightmare. The police had found the body of a young girl in local woodland: she’d been bludgeoned to death with a rock.

Bye Mam, I Love You is the story of Rebecca Aylward’s murder – a slaying that was described by an incredulous media as having been committed for ‘the price of a breakfast’. But, as soon became clear, this was no crime of passion. Becca’s death had apparently been many months in the planning, by a calculating, cold-blooded killer.

From the immediate arrest of 16-year-old Joshua Davies, to the lengthy investigation and harrowing five week trial that convicted him, this book is both an expression of a mother’s love and her pride in a daughter who had so much to live for, as well as an insight into the mind of a brutal murderer.

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