Anna Leask

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

New twins help to fill tragic void

Over the next few days, we're catching up with people who made the news in 2013. Today: Martin and Jane Weekes

Martin and Jane Weekes say twins Parker (left) and Poppy have given them  immense happiness. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Martin and Jane Weekes say twins Parker (left) and Poppy have given them immense happiness. Photo / Sarah Ivey

It's nice to see Jane and Martin Weekes smile again.

Despite the constant bustle around the large-scale renovations at their Devonport home, a festive barbecue for their builders on the go and planning their first Christmas trip away with their new twins, the couple are relaxed and content.

Christmas music playing in the background, they gaze at Parker and Poppy adoringly and chatter animatedly to the Herald about the twins' first four months and the laughter it has brought to their family.

There is no denying the Weekes twins are genuinely loved and cherished. But there is also no denying their parents are still devastated over the loss of their 2-year-old triplets in Doha, Qatar, in May 2012.

Lillie, Willsher and Jackson died when a fire broke out at the Villaggio shopping mall. Mr and Mrs Weekes returned to New Zealand late last year and found out just before Christmas they were to be parents again.

It was bittersweet news. They yearned for more children and were overjoyed their IVF treatment had not only been successful but resulted in twins. But facing their first Christmas without the triplets was almost too much for the couple to bear.

A year later, they are starting to heal and take immense comfort from the constant giggles and smiles from blue-eyed Poppy and Parker.

"These guys are immensely fun," Mr Weekes said. "There are times we really see the others in them. Parker doesn't look like either of his brothers - he looks like both of them squashed together. That really brings it home that they are not here.

"People talk about this Christmas being easier. It will be different, but it will still be really hard. Even though we have Poppy and Parker, we cannot ignore the fact Lillie, Jackson and Willsher aren't there. It's impossible."

Mrs Weekes said her heart had expanded when the twins arrived. "You don't halve how much you love them when you have more," she said.

"But you just can't not miss Lillie, Jackson and Willsher - and we will never get beyond that. Although we've gotten an immense amount of happiness from Poppy and Parker there is still an immense sadness for what we've lost and who the twins will never get to meet."

The couple spent Christmas Day with Mrs Weekes' parents and her brother, who will become a father next month.

They decided to dine at a restaurant and conserve energy for what will be a busy child-filled Christmas in 2014.

Mr Weekes has three older children - Tatjana, Nik and Natalya - from an earlier marriage. The trio are spending Christmas with their mother in Auckland but have had plenty of twin time in the lead-up.

A busy house has also soothed Mr and Mrs Weekes. "It doesn't take away from how much we miss Lillie, Jackson and Willsher, but it does make the in-between times much happier," Mr Weekes said.

"One of the worst things after Lillie, Jackson and Willsher were killed was the huge empty silences."

They have plenty to keep them busy next year too. They are focused on finishing the renovations, and Mrs Weekes has a new career plan.

She will train as a counsellor and wants to help others who have suffered similar tragedy.

And more siblings for Poppy and Parker could be on the cards.

"I wouldn't say no plans ... " Mr Weekes laughed.


Still waiting for justice

A month before Jane and Martin Weekes' twins were born, a court in Qatar sentenced five people to jail over the fire that killed their triplets in 2012.

The fire, blamed on an electrical fault, killed 19 people, including 10 other children.

Among those convicted of involuntary manslaughter were the owners of the Gympanzee nursery where the children were, members of mall management and a government official. As all have appealed; none has spent any time in prison.

The court also ordered them to pay 200,000 Qatari riyals (about $67,000) in "blood money" to each of the victims' families. Nobody has yet been paid. Mr and Mrs Weekes have hired their own lawyer to carry on their fight for justice in Qatar, and another hearing is due next month.

- NZ Herald

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