The husband of a British mother-of-two who was stabbed to death in her home in Australia has recalled the moment his daughter spotted she was bleeding after trying to fight off ‘teenage’ intruders.
Emma Lovell, 41, was killed when she and husband Lee, 43, were stabbed during a home invasion in North Lakes, Queensland, on Boxing Day.
Police said a scuffle broke out on the front porch as the couple tried to stop the intruders, with Mrs Lovell stabbed in the chest and her husband in the back.
Neighbours, meanwhile, heard their daughters screaming, with one yelling ‘someone help my mum, help my mum’.
Emma Lovell, 41, originally from Ipswich, died after she and her husband Lee, 32, were knifed at their home in North Lakes, Queensland. They’re pictured with their two daughters on Christmas Day
Mr Lovell, who has now been released from hospital, explained he and his wife were alerted to the presence of the two intruders via a home security application.
‘We heard our two dogs barking, Emma checked on our Swann security app and saw the front door was open,’ the grieving husband told Daily Mail Australia.
‘We both rushed out of our bedroom door, Emma behind me, and saw two people in our house.
‘I didn’t even know there was an issue until my daughter spotted her mum was bleeding.’
He added: ‘Emma was the glue in our family, she was funny, smart, so caring, would do anything for anyone.
‘She died trying to protect me and our family. We’re all devastated by what has happened. I miss her so much.’
Christina Lofthouse, 41, Emma’s best friend of 33 years, described her as ‘the best friend a girl could have’.
She said: ‘She was the first person I messaged in the morning and the last person I spoke to at night.
‘I’m utterly heartbroken that my best friend is gone and I don’t get to speak to her again, hug her again, laugh with her and cry with her.
‘Her poor daughters, husband, mum, brother and sister. As a family we are heartbroken to lose the best friend a girl could have. We had a friendship like no other.’
Two 17-year-old men have both been charged with one count each of murder, attempted murder and entering a dwelling with intent in company.
Police said a scuffle broke out on the front porch as the couple tried to stop the intruders, with Mrs Lovell (pictured) stabbed in the chest
Emma and Lee moved from Suffolk to Australia with their two daughters 11 years ago and Christina had plans to visit the family early next year.
Despite the distance, she said that the pair were ‘always together in spirit’ and that Emma had a ‘heart of gold’.
Christina added: ‘Even though we were 10,000 miles away, we were always together in spirit.
‘She truly had a heart of gold and helped me and my family out in some of our darkest days.’
Mr Lovell, who moved to Australia with his wife 11 years ago, has now been released from hospital
Mr and Mrs Lovell were alerted by the presence of two intruders in their home through a home security app
How teen gangs have left Brisbane gripped by fear
Locals have raised concerns Mrs Lovell’s murder could be related to youth gangs terrorising Brisbane amid a spate of burglaries across the city.
While the tragedy shocked many residents, who described their street as ‘typically quiet’, a woman, Natalie, who lives nearby said she had heard of several break-ins in the area as rival youth gangs – from opposite sides of Brisbane – commit violent crimes.
‘There is a Northside and a Southside gang, they operate on either end of the city,’ Natalie said. ‘What is Australia coming to? It’s becoming like America,’ she added. ‘Something has to change… people should feel safe in their homes.’
A photo shared by Brisbane gang
Brisbane’s Northside gang have made recurring headlines over the past few years for their brazen antics – which involved stealing luxury cars, violence, and breaking into homes, then boasting about their ill-gotten gains online.
The gang, which typically targets the elite northern suburbs of Ascot and Hamilton, has been active since 2013 – with some of its youngest members aged just 12.
Meanwhile, their competitors in the south, have been engaging in similar crimes – also bragging about their illicit lifestyle on social media.
Photos posted online by both the gangs include them posing in front of stolen vehicles, wads of cash lined up on the floor – or in one instance live-streaming a joyride in a stolen car.
In August, two rival gangs were linked to a series of shootings wreaking havoc across the southside as tensions spilled into the streets. Some of the incidents involved handguns, shotguns, as well as Molotov cocktails.
The suspects have been refused bail and are set to appear in Brisbane Childrens Court on Wednesday.
Two more men, aged 16 and 18, have also been arrested and are still being questioned by detectives.
Queensland Police Superintendent John Hallam hasn’t ruled out further charges.
‘The investigation is ongoing. It hasn’t ended,’ he said on Tuesday.
‘I’m quite sure as the detectives work through the work they need to do, if they find more offences there, people will be charged. More charges will be laid.’
Meanwhile, the fatal stabbing has renewed calls for the state government to crack down on repeat youth offenders as her heartbroken friends pay tribute to the ‘amazing’ mum.
Criminologist and former detective Terry Goldsworthy said youths were over-represented in multiple crimes committed in the state, including vehicle theft and break-ins.
He’s calling for the state Labour government to bring back the offence of breach of bail for juvenile offenders.
Mr Goldsworthy said: ‘They are refusing to bring it back. It needs to be brought back,’ he told Nine’s Today Show on Wednesday.
‘It will make it easier for police to action people who are on bail and breaching conditions.’
Just hours before the incident, Mr Lovell posted on Facebook to wish his family and friends a Merry Christmas, and shared a photo of the family together on a beach.
‘So for the first time in 11 years we spent Christmas day on the beach and even managed to cook up some bacon and eggs!’ Mr Lovell wrote online.
‘Hope everyone has a great Christmas day spent with loved ones and friends.’
Neighbour Julie Balhatchet told Daily Mail Australia her daughters were in the second floor of their home when they saw the commotion unfolding across the road.
They quickly told their dad who ran across the street to help.
‘When my husband ran over, it was dark he had no idea she was injured,’ Mrs Balhatchet said.
‘She [Mrs Lovell] was laying face down on the ground bleeding.’
Mrs Balhatchet said after the scuffle in the street, her daughters saw the two alleged offenders running from the house.
While her husband and Mr Lovell worked to save his wife, another neighbour ushered the two daughters away from the traumatic scene.
Mrs Balhatchet was devastated to later learn Mrs Lovell died in hospital.
‘It’s just so so sad,’ she said.
‘Those poor girls and her husband. He was very distraught.’
The suspects have been refused bail and are set to appear in Brisbane Children’s Court tomorrow
Two more men, aged 16 and 18, have also been arrested are still being questioned by detectives
Shattered neighbours left tributes to their ‘beautiful friend’ outside the North Lakes home
Mrs Balhatchet said the random alleged attack had shocked the normally quiet neighbourhood.
‘I’ve lived here 19 years and nothing like this has happened.’
‘You think, why them? It could have been any of us on the street.’
Another woman who lives in a nearby suburb, Natalie, came by the home to drop off flowers after hearing about the tragedy on the news.
She told Daily Mail Australia that her friend, who lives in south Brisbane, had experienced a break in and managed to scare the intruders away.
While no one was harmed, the family were so traumatised they moved away and now always sleep with their personal items next to the bed.
‘What is Australia coming to?,’ she said. ‘It’s becoming like America. Something has to change.. people should feel safe in their homes.’
Originally from the UK, Mr and Mrs Lovell fell in love when they first came to Australia in 2002 as they travelled along the east coast.
Within ten years, the couple had welcomed two daughters and returned to Australia to call Down Under their permanent home.
Mr Lovell’s social media is filled with photos of his family enjoying Queensland’s beaches and warm weather.
On a post about a visit to a distillery on Tamborine Mountain in the Gold Coast hinterland in February 2013, Mr Lovell recommended the life-changing move to interested friends back in the UK.
Mr and Mrs Lovell fell in love when they first arrived in Australia from the UK back in 2002. Within ten years, the couple had welcomed two daughters and returned to Australia to call Down Under their permanent home
‘It is amazing over here, being able to go to the beach, swim in warm water, using free BBQs, but it’s hard not being around friends and family,’ Mr Lovell wrote.
‘We only have one life, so go for it and don’t have any regrets.
‘Oz is a big place, but Brisbane is a pretty good place to be. The weather is bearable, and we’re not too far from the Sunshine Coast or Gold Coast, both have really good beaches and are family friendly.
‘Don’t be put off [moving to Australia] because the first time on a beach, and seeing how happy (and getting red) your kids are, it’ll all be worth it,’ he said.
Martyn McIntee, 42, was another one of Emma’s close friends and planned to visit her in Queensland in February.
He said: ‘Emma was the most amazing person in the world. We were inseparable at school.
‘When we were younger, we had a deal that if we weren’t married before we hit 40, we would marry each other.
‘I will miss her so much. I can’t even imagine the pain her mum, brothers, Lee and their girls are going through.’