Anna Leask

Anna Leask is a police reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Silence tortures triplets' parents

The Weekes speak candidly about their loss, their anger and their hopes of rebuilding their family.

Lillie, Jackson and Willsher dressed for their first Christmas. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Lillie, Jackson and Willsher dressed for their first Christmas. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Seven months ago their lives were a happy chaos as they raised energetic and vibrant triplets Lillie, Jackson and Willsher.

But after the triplets died when a fire ripped through their daycare centre in a Doha mall the Weekes were plunged into a cruel noiselessness - the absence of their children's laughter and chatter unbearable.

"The worst thing for me since the children's death is the silence. If you live in a house with three 2-year-olds there's always something happening, it's always busy. But since June 28, it's been silent," Mr Weekes said.

"There's no laughter, there's no noise, there's no fun."

In an exclusive interview with the Herald the Weekes spoke in depth for the first time about losing their children, their decision to have more babies as soon as possible and their ongoing battle for justice.

The couple arrived back in Auckland last week after spending several months in the US undergoing fertility treatment in a bid to conceive more children. The triplets were born in Wellington through IVF and the Weekes are hopeful that in the next few weeks they will find out their latest treatment has been successful.

"We had one unsuccessful treatment in the US, which was disappointing. It's disappointing enough without it being on top of losing and missing Lillie, Jackson and Willsher," said Mrs Weekes.

"We're a little way off finding out about the second round. I actually don't want to get excited about it ... I'm nervous and anxious that I will be disappointed."

The decision to have more children so soon after the triplets died was a hard one to make. But the couple cannot bear living without the pitter patter of little feet and hope that a new addition to their family will help them heal.

Mrs Weekes said going from having three beautiful toddlers to none in a matter of hours was incomprehensibly painful and while she would never forget them, she wanted children in her life again.

The couple spoke out soon after the triplets died, but last week shared with the Herald new details of the day and the aftermath. They gave an interview the day the trial for those allegedly responsible for the fire began in Doha. It was the fifth attempt to start the trial as previously the accused had not bothered to appear.

They have been told nothing about the fire, and said the rumour and speculation about what went wrong that day was excruciating.

"We've heard all sorts of things, other than the facts. It's frustrating because we need the information for peace of mind and to understand what actually happened. It's concerning ... and disappointing that the facts are not being released," said Mr Weekes.

The couple have made numerous attempts to get information from various government agencies in Qatar about the tragedy and the "disastrous" handling of it by authorities.

They have also made a number of formal complaints, including one about the failure of the hospital to embalm the children before their bodies were flown back to New Zealand.

"We asked for the children to be embalmed and laid in airtight caskets before we brought them home, so some family had a chance to see them. But when they opened the caskets in Wellington, they were not airtight and the children had not been embalmed. Absolutely nothing had been done, despite it being signed off and certified by the Ministry of Public Health in Qatar. It was a nightmare," said Mr Weekes, who is being treated for post traumatic stress disorder.

They are also battling to get the triplets' backpacks back. They had them on when they went to daycare the day they died and the bags were not destroyed in the fire. But no one knows where they are.

"We can't get our children back, but why can't we have their backpacks, their toys, their special things they had with them that day?" Mr Weekes said.

After the funeral the couple went overseas. They struggled to connect with family and did not know what to do with themselves.

"Things were really difficult after the funeral. We just didn't know what to do with ourselves. You wake up in the morning and feel completely purposeless. So we went overseas, it was literally like we were running away," Mrs Weekes said.

"Five years ago we were living in New Zealand and we had plans to go overseas and start a new life - then come back with a family and bring up our kids here," Mr Weekes said.

"I think the cruellest thing is to experience real happiness and then to lose it.

"So many people go through life looking for happiness but never find it. I had it, we had it. And it's really difficult now that it's gone."

The couple plan to settle in Auckland and spend as much time as possible with older children - Natalya, Tatyana and Nikolai from Mr Weekes' first marriage. And, hopefully, the sound of toddlers again.

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a3 at 17 Apr 2014 09:01:18 Processing Time: 302ms