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'KATRINA WAS MORE THAN AN ADDICT' Dad tells of heartache after mum-of-four's death from heroin overdose.

Byline: JESSICA WALFORD Reporter

BORN and raised in the Rhondda, Katrina Williams was a typical girl who loved to make people laugh.

An "intelligent, young woman" who was "into mischief" but who was "always smiling", Trina was destined for good things.

But after leaving school at just 16, she fell in with the wrong crowd. She started to use drugs.

Her family say they "didn't want to believe it", but tried to help the best they could. The problem was, they couldn't tell the mum-of-four what to do.

Years later, Trina decided to get clean. She learnt to cook and was helping out at a local church. She was trying to get her life back on track.

But on November 9, 2017, Katrina and her partner, Glenn Bradley, were found "slumped" on the kitchen floor at their home in Treorchy after dying from a heroin overdose.

Her family say it was one fatal dose. Katrina was just 36 years old. She left behind four children.

But her family don't want her remembered as an addict. To them, she was simply their happy go-lucky Trina who fell into the wrong crowd and couldn't escape her addiction.

Across Wales, heroin deaths are rising.

Trina's life is a harrowing study in how the drug can seize a life, consume it entirely, and leave nothing behind.

This is how a death from heroin affects more than just an addict - and how the family have come to terms with her sudden death.

Sat nestled in Pentre on a sunny autumn day is the home of the Williams family.

Dad Steven and his partner, Fiona Walker, sit on two leather sofas in the living room of the terraced house, sipping cups of tea as their dogs play in the kitchen.

Their friend, Emma Williams, sits beside them to offer some comfort.

"She was a perfect child," Steven said. "She was into mischief and she was a lovable child. She was a good kid.

"I remember she came back from Tonyrefail and when she got off the bus, she had these two sticks as crutches.

"She got off the bus and I was in tears saying: 'What have you done?' I'd thought she'd broken her leg.

"She wound me up. She put the sticks down and she was laughing at me. She was a wind-up person.

"She was a good old child. I can't fault her."

"She was always smiling. Every photo you see, she just has this smile on her face," Fiona added.

Even if things were going wrong, she would have been probably been standing there with a big grin on her face."

A typical teenager, Trina did bunk school while at Treorchy Comprehensive School, her dad said. "But she was an intelligent, young woman," he added.

After leaving school at 16, Trina worked in a factory for about a year, while living at home with her dad.

But she soon got involved with the wrong crowd.

"She was doing well and started having boyfriends and started going in with the wrong crowd," Steven said.

"Unfortunately, we did try our best to help her but you'd get it back in your face. We turned around and said she's got to get on with her own life.

"She was coming of age, she had to make her own mistakes.

"It didn't alarm me. But she did start hanging around with the wrong crowd and using weed.

"From there on, she went to the other stuff.

"I didn't know [if she was taking drugs], and, most probably, don't want to know.

"You hear stories and rumours but she would say: 'I'm not on them.'" At 20, Trina moved out and had her first child. She was clean at the time.

Then, in 2002, she met Glenn and she was soon pregnant with their first child together.

The pair moved to Treorchy and it seemed to be going well.

Glenn had a past history with drug abuse. Trina's family tried not to interfere with their relationship but had concerns in hindsight.

But Trina loved Glenn. It made it harder for the family to try and help.

"All parents don't want to believe it at all," Steven said when looking back to if they were taking drugs at the time.

"As long as he looked after my daughter, then great. I didn't know the situation with drugs, we didn't want to believe it anyway.

"Other than that, they were fine. So I let them get at it."

"She loved the man," Fiona said. "It's not just in a relationship with drugs. If they love that person, it doesn't matter what they're going to do, they're going to stay there."

Steven and Fiona did notice there might be a problem, though, and tried to help.

"I was new and there's not a lot I could do," Fiona said. "It wasn't my place. Can you imagine being in a new relationship and telling people what to do? "All we could do was try and keep helping her and hopefully she would snap out of things."

"We cleaned their houses, we never found nothing," Steven said.

In 2012, Trina had an abortion. On the day the baby was meant to be born, she took an overdose.

Her life spiralled from there.

"After that, I think she went totally off the rails then," Fiona said.

Then, in 2014, Trina wanted help. She went to rehab and completed a detox programme.

Her family said the centre praised her for being determined to come off drugs, and she refused medication to help ease her pain.

Trina had gone cold turkey in a bid to change her life. It worked.

Trina stayed clean for three years and had started to rebuild her life.

It was like Steven had his daughter back, he said.

"She was learning to cook or bake with the church," Fiona said. "She was trying to prove what she could do."

"It was nice to see her like she was younger," Steven added. "She was determined.

"She would come down here and have a laugh and talk and we would go up there and wind them up.

"They were going great, you know. Even Glenn would go out his way to help Trina. They would offer help to anybody."

But just before they died, there was a fallout between them and Steven and Fiona.

"She sent me a text saying: 'Dad, I'm sorry', Steven said.

"I said I'm not ready. Fiona said: 'Go up and see her, but I'm not ready yet.' "Maybe if I went and spoke to her, perhaps she wouldn't have gone. I don't know. That was the last time I heard anything before the police knocked on the door."

The day after Katrina died, police visited her family to break the news.

It's a day that's etched in their mind still.

"We had just come back from walking the dogs and there was a bang on the door," Steven said. "They [the police] just walked in.

"We sat down on the settee and they said: 'Trina's gone.' "I didn't know what to say. Fiona came in and said: 'Where's Glenn?'" "That's when he said: 'The two of them have gone'," Fiona said.

"That's the worst experience," Steven added as he gets up to have a cigarette in the garden.

So how do they want their Trina remembered? "She had a heart of gold and would help anybody," Steven said.

"She was such a lovely person." "Although she had a problem, she would always be smiling," Fiona added.

What perhaps adds to their grief now is the stigma of being the family of a heroin addict who died.

"You're treated like scum," Emma said. "You're treated like you should have known, like this was inevitable. No, it's someone's child.

"Katrina was more than an addict. Addiction is an illness.

"No one is big enough or rich enough to escape heroin.

"I wholeheartedly feel for every family that's gone through it.

"Immaterial to what life they had, society needs to start showing empathy. There should be automatic counselling to get your head around the fact that your child tried and failed.

"That was her [Katrina] first dose of heroin that killed her, so no it wasn't expected, as two days before she was clean."

Steven added: "It's an impossible situation. It's still going on.

"Every month, the ninth, the tenth, the 24th, it goes through you because you know the dates that you found your daughter, you heard from your daughter and the day she got cremated. You've got all those dates in your head.

"You never get over it. I do feel sorry families out there going through it."

"All I can say to them is if you know your kid's on something, try and support them," Fiona added. "Don't ever turn your back."


Steven Williams from Pentre, father of Katrina Williams who died from a heroin overdose with her partner Glenn Bradley MARK LEWIS

Katrina as a bridesmaid in 1986

Katrina in her first year at Treorchy Comprehensive School
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Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Oct 14, 2018
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