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'I felt it was important to sing to her' - Family's bedside vigil for mother left in a coma after brutal attack


Joleen Corr

Joleen Corr

Joleen Corr

The family of a mother left in a coma after a savage attack told how they spent the Christmas holidays at her hospital bedside, singing her favourite songs.

Belfast woman Joleen Corr, a 26-year-old mum to a two-year-old boy, was brutally attacked in her home in Downpatrick on December 2.

A 30-year-old man, Michael O'Connor, has been charged with attempted murder.

Joleen's mother, Carol Corr, admitted it had been a difficult few weeks.

"Christmas was pretty tough for the family," she said.

Along with Carol, Joleen's father as well as her brother Jim (19) and sisters Cherie (23), Chloe (11) and Christine (9) have kept a vigil at her bedside in the Royal Victoria Hospital.

"I spent Christmas Eve with my two youngest children at home so Santa could come, but then we headed straight to the Royal Hospital to spend the day with Joleen," she explained.

Boxing Day was Carol's birthday and she felt it was important to celebrate it for Joleen.

"One of my daughters brought in a cake and candles. We all sang songs to Joleen. I sang Butterfly Kisses by Bob Carlisle - Joleen and I would have sung that together when my own mummy was alive," she added.

"I felt it was important to sing it to her even if I don't know if she can hear me. It was a special moment even though we're all hurting and want Joleen to come round."

Five weeks on from Joleen's attack, Carol said there has still been no sign of improvement.

"There's been no change, her injuries are very severe. It's heartbreaking for us to watch her lifeless," she added.

Carol said her daughter is "a very happy-go-lucky wee girl."

"We had a close relationship where me, her and her wee son James went out shopping while my younger children were at school. We would go and have a pamper day, get our hair done and then back to my house for lunch," she recalled. "My other children would always be excited when she was coming up."

Joleen had stayed with her mother in Belfast for a week before her attack on December 2.

"She had picked up a wee pup for her boy James for Christmas. When she left to get the bus to Downpatrick that morning (December 1), I hugged and kissed her and told her I loved her and said I'll be on the phone to you soon," Carol explained.

She received news her daughter was seriously hurt the following afternoon.

"As soon as I heard the news I went into shock, my heart was beating a mile a minute, I was screaming and was saying 'please God let my child be okay'. I knew in my heart something was seriously wrong," she added.

Carol said she got "the shock of her life" when she saw her daughter in hospital, adding: "She was unrecognisable. I almost collapsed and ran the other direction, I couldn't believe my wee girl was like that.

"Being a mother and seeing my daughter lying there - she may be 26 but she's still my baby."

She continued: "Joleen is such a good-hearted wee girl, she was never out to hurt anyone and all she wanted was a wee bit of happiness with her little son."

Carol said she had to "stay strong" when taking James to see his mother in hospital.

"The nurses had her looking beautiful so she just looked like she was sleeping," she said. "I had toys waiting at the bottom of her bed to take his mind off his mummy.

"I said to him, 'your mummy's a sleepy head and she's got a sore throat.' He just looked at me and I said, 'look at all the things your mummy has got you'.

"He saw a picture above the bed of Joleen and him with Santa the week before she was hurt. I lifted him up and he gave his mum a kiss. It was sad but I held strong for Joleen.

"It's hard for me, you want to believe the opposite. God has given me strength as has my mother who passed on before us.

"We're over there day and night, it's just a nightmare you want to wake up from."

Belfast Telegraph