“Nothing loved is ever lost.”
These are the poignant words distraught daughter Demi Stead had tattooed on the front of her shoulder in tribute to the dad who was cruelly snatched away from her.
Michael Stead, 35, never woke from the coma he was left in after the savage attack he suffered at the hands of Michael Young and Daniel Mould.
Although Demi, 17 and her brother, Leon, 16, will always have their memories of their dad, today she wiped away her tears as she declared: “But they’ve taken all the memories we would have made.”
The four “vile human beings” convicted over the murder plot are beginning their combined 53 years’ jail sentences.
Demi said: “We feel we have justice, but nothing will ever bring my dad back to us.”
Demi was still at school and on a trip with classmates when she received the devastating news that her dad had been brutally attacked outside his Millfield home in March last year.
She and Michael’s mum, Ann, 68, rushed to the intensive care unit at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Hospital (RVI)
Demi said: “I just couldn’t believe what was happening, it was like a dream. He was lying there with tubes in him, all bruised. It was just awful.”
Michael lay in a coma. After showing no signs of recovery he was transferred to Sunderland Royal Hospital, where Demi and her family kept a nine-month vigil at his bed in Ward F61.
Demi said: “It was just a nightmare. We all hoped and prayed he would somehow pull through. The staff at the hospital were amazing with my dad and with us.”
Tragically, Michael lost his fight for life at 5.30pm on December 28.
Demi said: “We were there with him when he died. He just slipped away. He had kept fighting, but he never regained consciousness.
“I held his hand and said goodbye.
“He had rang me two days before the attack and he told me he loved me. Those were the last words I had and it will stay with me forever.”
As Demi and her family said their final farewell and began to grieve, the shocking truth of his death began to emerge.
Michael’s ex-lover Leanne Mould, 34, had plotted the violence aginst Michael over a £30 debt and a belief he had been unfaithful.
The pair had had an on-off relationship for five years and had a child together.
Mould, along with Michael Young, her brother Daniel Mould and Trevor Creighton had an angry confrontation with the victim outside his Brady Street home at about 9pm on March 1 last year.
A second stand-off took palce about an hour and a half later, with Young and Daniel Mould launching a murderous attack.
The dad-of-three suffered extensive head injuries and a bleed on the brain after he was repeatedly beaten with a hammer and a knife sharpener.
A witness told police she saw Young walking away from the scene saying “we’ve killed him, we’ve killed him”.
The group was to be made to pay for the sickening crime, but not before grieving Demi was forced to suffer further abuse by Leanne Mould, who shouted and spat at her in the street and tried to force her way into the hospital to see her victim as he lay in a coma.
Demi said: “When I began to hear what had happened I was just sickened. How could someone do such a thing. For £30. I just felt sick.
“And then she kept coming to me and screaming at me and even spat at me. She tried to get in to see my dad in hospital, but the staff refused to let her in.”
As the family began to put their pieces of their lives together, they then had to face the hell of a trial.
Demi said: “It was just awful and throughout the trial they all behaved just disgusting. They are just vile, vile human beings.”
A jury of seven women and five men found Daniel Mould, 26, guilty of murder and conspiracy to commit GBH with intent.
Mould, of Chester Terrace North, Sunderland, was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum of 23 years.
Young, 26, of Rutherglen Road, Sunderland, also stood trial for murder, but the jury failed to convict him. He then admitted a lesser charge of manslughter. He was jailed for 13-and-a-half years.
Leanne Mould, who lived at a separate address to her former boyfriend in Brady Street, was found guilty of conspiracy to commit GBH with intent and was jailed for six years.
Creighton, of Lumley Street, Sunderland, was handed a 10-and-a-half year sentence for conspiracy to commit GBH with intent.
Demi added: “We got justice, although we thought Leanne would and should have been given longer.”
Demi and Leon, who live with mum Kelly Curtis, 34, in Downhill, are now trying to rebuild their lives.
Michael’s attack came just nine weeks after the death of his dad, Thomas, at the age of 70.
As his mum, Ann, twin Gary, 35, and brothers Brian, 50, Tony 52 and Wayne, 43, were grieving, they then had to cope with further tragedy.
Demi said: “We never even had time to grieve for grandad. Hopefully now with all this over, we can start to grieve properly for them both.
“I will try to remember my dad as the happy-go-lucky, funny, loving dad he was. I loved him so much. He had a heart of gold. I miss him every day and I got the tattoo to say he will always be with me.”
As the four started their jail terms, Demi added: “I will never forgive them, ever. They are just the scum of the earth.
“They will be released from prison one day, but I will never see my dad again. He will never come back to us. We just have to try to keep his memory alive.”
Demi also wanted to thank the police family liaison officer and all the staff at both hospitals for their support throught the family’s ordeal.
She added: “They wer there for us throughout. they were amazing.”