The Crown has today called for a life sentence for the man found guilty of murdering Bendigo baby Zayden Veal-Whitting.
Here, Zayden’s mother Casey Veal tells of her pain in a victim impact statement read in the Supreme Court.
Since the crime occurred I have lost my outlook and determination in life I once had. I may stand before you alive and breathing but I'm but a shadow of my former self. This also has denied Xavier the mother he once knew. We both died that day. Xavier lost not only his brother but his true mother. I see everything through dark cloud filled lenses. I struggle daily with slight changes and am constantly ridden with anxiety.
My nightmares are filled with the aftermath of this event such as my son's funeral and subsequent viewing and final goodbyes, which was further plagued with heartache over the fact, due to medical procedures, as a part of this process. I was never able to hold him again.
I still to this second am unable to actually grieve openly. I have had to hide behind a strong fake mask as a result of this event. I've had to be guarded with in all emotions as well as what I have been able to express out loud. To see such an adult growth within Xavier at such a young age is heartbreaking. No child should ever show such sadness and broken with no understanding, especially at his little age of only four years old. He has seen and experienced things since this crime that words cannot express. He has cried so many tears over his longing for his return. He just cannot comprehend why this happened to us. I cannot provide the answers he is looking for. His grief has consumed my daily life. I constantly worry about his thoughts and sometimes what he has to express. For his age he has lived through more than most adults, without a loud voice and large vocabulary. My son should never have to sit with his head in his hands, pouring his heart out with an ocean of tears, only to wipe his eyes at my appearance with, 'I'm okay, Mummy, I just miss my Zayden. Why did he have to go?' He has matured beyond his years by far.
This outcome breaks my heart daily and is what I see as an unnoticed but most important outcome to be spoken about, so that even the littlest voice is heard. I, myself, struggle with the loss of my future, the loss of all hope and determination. The day I lost my Son I lost my whole life. I lost everything I had ever known, I lost being Mummy. I lost all future plans I had dreamed for my boys. I lost his right to grow up, to celebrate even one birthday.
Zayden was never able to even finish accomplishing being able to walk. I lost the chance to see him fall in love, get married, or even start school. Never will I be able to attend any function with his older brother without our thoughts always being what if he was here? I have lost a lot of love and all enjoyment of anniversaries like birthdays and occasions such as Easter. Each passing one is just a heart wrenching reminder of what I am missing.
I have found that even at my strongest moments I still feel weak, that human interaction at times is unbearable. That after this crime occurred I find I have a lack of understanding of those around me, that my grief consumes me at times, which as a result has caused a lot of issues and change. I have had a lot of relationship breakdowns including new interactions with people as I feel I have a huge secret as society is terrified of the 'murder' word, let alone child loss.
I find myself unable to enjoy and connect with nieces and nephews as each is a constant reminder of what if and a reminder of my normal I crave so dearly. Even the most precious moments are overshadowed by my grief and loss. I am unable to smile or enjoy these little moments. Each day provides new challenges. I find some days even just breathing and existing to be exhausting, which is beyond frustrating to myself as I am only 24 years old and have now lived more than most will in their lifetime. I am serving a life sentence I will never be free of against my own will. All I have left is memories and even most of them are tainted by this crime and the trauma that has come from this. What ifs will plague my life, let alone rule my thoughts. I will never be able to answer those questions for myself, let alone more so This crime has destroyed my life. I will never be the same again. The simplest and smallest experiences such as my reflection in the mirror, or glimpses of Zayden's beautiful face burn my heart. A constant reminder of the reality of my loss due to this crime. Zayden was my mini me, full of my physical appearances.
Just catching my own reflection can destroy my day in seconds if I'm not strong enough. Just the simplest moments can destroy my heart and mind, the horrendous outcome of this crime. These are just some of the normal challenges faced by myself, the grieving mother, since this crime occurred to my family, let alone by the grieving family that surrounds me in the loss of their brother, grandson, Casey Veal states that attached is a picture drawn by Xavier, the eldest brother, Xavier. She says, "He is just shy of five now and was only two at the time the crime occurred. He drew this picture just before the trial commenced at his kindergarten. He cannot at most times verbalise all of his feelings within his grief and traumatic loss. Xavier often has the most quiet and mostly silent voice within this traumatic situation. He has chosen to put this picture to the judge as he says, 'It shows me and my brother.' The picture attached is two sons. He drew two sons and separated them with a bright yellow line. We used yellow a lot in representation and in memory of Zayden. This representation shows how he sees his life and his brother's, separated, that they live in different worlds. He talks and often thinks of his brother, Zayden. He cannot verbalise his feelings. I put forth this drawing as it is his way of expression. I put this picture forth drawn by the most heavily affected person who is mostly overlooked and seen as silent. Put simply by Xavier himself, 'I miss my bubba, I miss my Zayden. Why can't he come back.' He spends every birthday wish in the hope of his brother's return. Each statement breaks my heart, a small boy should never know these thoughts. He will forever miss his beloved shadow, his best friend, his little brother, his Zayden.