The heartbroken mum of killed travel agent Cassie Hayes, whose throat was slit at her workplace, has paid tribute to her ‘amazing’ daughter.
The 28-year-old was working in a branch of TUI in Southport, Merseyside, when she was attacked in front of terrified customers and colleagues last Saturday afternoon.
Cassie’s 53-year-old mother Tracy has now spoken about her tragic loss for the first time.
Through tears, she said: “I just want to wake up, this is like a bad dream.
“Cassie always had a cheeky little grin on her face. She was crazy, but the most lovable girl. She was incredible, amazing, she was the best and I don’t know how we will come to terms with her death.
“The last time I saw her was just after Christmas, she came up to visit with her daughter Ruby and we had the most lovely day.
“I am thankful at least that my last memories of Cassie are happy.”
Cassie had moved from Alnwick, to the seaside town of Southport at the age of 18 to be with her then partner Leah McDonald, with whom she had Ruby, now four. Many tributes were paid to the former Duchess’s High School pupil after the news of the tragedy broke at the weekend.
An inquest, opened at Southport Town Hall on Tuesday afternoon, was told a man went into the travel firm, on Chapel Street, and slit her throat from behind.
Tracy, now of Ryton, Tyne and Wear, added: “I will never understand why this has happened. The shop was really busy when she was attacked – it was a Saturday afternoon and there were kids around.
“I am still in a state of disbelief, you see this kind of thing in the news, but you never in a million years think it is going to happen to your family.
“Cassie was a fantastic mum to her daughter. Ruby has been waking up in the night, asking where she is. She’s too young to understand what has happened, all she knows is that is her mum is no longer here.
“I spoke to Cassie the day before she died and she seemed a bit down, but wouldn’t elaborate.
“We planned to chat again on Saturday evening after I text her that morning, just two hours before, she knew I loved her.”
Tracy received a call from Cassie’s best friend at around 2pm, half-an-hour after she was attacked, to say she had been taken to hospital following an incident at work.
The mother-of-two and her partner Kevin Jacobson, 51, were preparing to drive across to Southport to be with Cassie when they phoned her friend for an update, only to receive the devastating news.
Tracy said: “I felt sick, I just completely shut down.
“I was completely heartbroken, and I did not know what to do, or how I would carry on. I was in a state of complete shock.
“Cassie had always thought of me before herself and I still don’t feel as though she is truly gone.
“Her dad died in 2004 and Cassie was very close to him, his death hit her really hard. I am comforted by the thought the two of them are together now.”
Cassie had travelled over to Ryton to visit her mum and sister Nadine, 33, on December 28, with Ruby and they spent the day opening Christmas presents.
Nadine said: “Cassie and I were really close, we talked every day, I had an unbelievable relationship with her.
“A loving daughter, a sister, a mammy, a sister-in-law, an auntie, a cousin, a niece, a granddaughter, a work colleague and a friend has been taken away from us.
“This truly is a living nightmare and the pain is indescribable. I stand here as a big sister for my Cass, for my family, for all those who loved and cared for her.
“She was truly one in a million and the way she has been taken from us is just heartbreaking.”
Cassie had worked at TUI, formerly Thomson, for 12 years and had worked her way up to become an assistant manager.
The family have thanked the emergency services, especially their liaison officer Detective Constable Patrick Kilgannon of Merseyside Police.
Nadine added: “We, as a family, are blown away with all the support we have had over these dark days.
“I can’t thank my partner, Adam, enough, he has just been incredible, and all the family.
“Thank you to everyone in Southport and to everyone back home in Alnwick, Cassie’s home town.”
Andrew Burke, 30, from St Helens, an ex-boyfriend of Cassie’s partner Laura, has been charged with her murder and appeared before magistrates in Liverpool earlier this week. He is next due to appear at Liverpool Crown Court on February 19.
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