A schoolgirl whose mum was brutally murdered in her Milton Keynes home is bravely speaking out about her experiences in a BBC documentary tonight in a bid to help other youngsters living with domestic violence.
Kirstie, 14, reveals how evil stepdad Paul Hemming mentally abused her and her two siblings and made them stand in the "naughty corner" for up to 13 hours at a time.
In BBC2's Behind Closed Doors: Through the Eyes of a Child, Kirstie also tells how she would listen terrified as highly controlling Hemming shouted at and bullied her mum Natalie.
He controlled Natalie's money, constantly checked up on her and even tried to prevent her getting a job.
In May 2016, while the children slept upstairs, Hemming lost his temper with Natalie for the final time. He beat the pretty 31-year-old to death in the living room of the Newton Leys house, wrapped the body in a rug, shoved her into his car boot and drove to woodlands near Hemel Hempstead, where he dumped her naked. Her body was not found until three weeks later.
Kirstie's little brother, who was six at the time, had actually heard the murder happen.
He told police: “I heard a noise. I looked downstairs and peeked through the little door. Mum was lying down on the floor.”
Paul Hemming is currently serving a 20 year prison sentence and the police investigation into the murder was filmed as part of another BBC documentary called Catching a Killer.
Tonight's documentary focuses upon Natalie's three children, who are now being cared for by relatives.
Kirstie describes how her mum was so controlled by Hemming that she was rendered powerless. On at least one occasion she covered up his violence when police got involved.
Kirstie said: “I once told a teacher that Daddy wasn’t being very nice. She did the right thing and told the head. It was reported to social services but they called Mum, who said everything was fine. The file was closed the same day.”
But the tyranny continued. And the slightest incident would set Hemming off on an almost daily basis.
Kirstie said: “He found an apple in my school bag that had gone soft and he was really angry. He made me scrub out the bag and I had to stand in the naughty corner from 6pm until 7am – 13 hours.
“He went to bed, but kept checking I was still standing.
“Mum would try and sneak food to me, but she wasn’t always able to. If she got found out, Paul would go mad."
She added:: “I was too frightened to talk. I didn’t even want to tell the police what I knew in case they told Paul. I knew he’d be really angry.”
Meanwhile Natalie's family begged her to leave Paul and stay with them. But each time the "Jekyll and Hyde" character turned on the charm and managed to woo her back.
Kirstie, who lives with Natalie's sister Jo, was described as "almost robotic" after her mum's death. Her little sister didn't speak for two months and has only recently found the confidence to speak outside the home.
Meanwhile Kirstie is working hard on her GCSEs and has joined the Sea Cadets. She would like to join the Navy when she leaves school.
She is also determined to help other youngsters suffering domestic violence.
She said:: “I’m a patron of Operation Encompass, which supports children suffering abuse. If police are called to a house for domestic violence, they have to let the school know. Teachers can then talk to the children and ask them if they’re okay..
“It’s really hard to go up to a teacher and tell them what’s happening, but if someone comes to you it’s much easier to speak out.”
Natalie's family describe her as a great mum and a strong character.
"If domestic violence can happen to her, it can happen to anyone," said sister Jo.
*Behind Closed Doors: Through the Eyes of the Child is screened tonight at 9pm on BBC2.