The West

New life an aching reminder of adored sister
Emma Cate is due to give birth next week. Picture: Michael O'Brien, The West Australian

When Emma Cate gives birth any day now to her son it will be a bittersweet moment, with constant aching thoughts of what should have been.

It will undoubtedly be a joyous occasion, but for the soon-to-be teenage mother and her tight-knit family it will again feel as though part of them is missing.

The self-assured and calmly spoken 18-year-old is due to deliver baby Chase on Thursday, virtually nine months to the day that her younger sister Jessie and "best friend" was coldly and callously murdered by someone she had once treated as a brother.

Emma is adamant that Chase is a gift from Jessie - made even more special because she thought she could never have children for medical reasons. She said Jessie used to tell her if she wanted children one day she would be her surrogate and urged her if she became pregnant young to keep the baby.

Emma said her pregnancy - with her partner Reece Sturman - has been a beautiful distraction from the agony of losing Jessie.

Her son's name is a way of paying tribute to Jessie because it was the sisters' favourite boy's name.

"We always had this competition . . . whoever gets the boy first can have the name Chase, we both wanted it," she said yesterday, speaking from her mother Judy's Dawesville home.

Judy Cate, 44, said her first grandchild would be a "healing gift". "The love of this little baby is not going to replace Jess, but it's going to restore what we've lost," she said.

Emma said listening to the horrific details of Jessie's final minutes in court this week when her killer Kyle Garth was sentenced to life, had made the tragedy more real.

She said Garth appeared "distant" and emotionless in the dock, "like he didn't care".

"I can never forgive him . . . he took my baby sister's life for no reason whatsoever," she said.

Jessie and Garth had been like "brother and sister".

"They just mucked around, they were funny together, joked with each other, took photos together," she said.

Garth has a new girlfriend, a 36-year-old mother of three who, the court was told, visits him in prison.

Emma and Judy Cate - who both wore Jessie's favourite colour, purple - believe Garth's undoing was he was such a bad liar, making it easy for police to break him down.

Emma said when Garth phoned her mother the morning after the murder, saying he had dropped Jessie off in the rain at an oval to see friends, she immediately had a "hunch" he was lying and hiding something. When she spoke to him, asking where Jessie was, she said he abused her and claimed that he was innocent.

She said if Jessie left a legacy, she wanted it to be that violence in teenage society had to stop.

More than 14,000 people have joined Jessie's Facebook tribute page, Rest in Paradise, with Emma saying the outpouring of community support has proved a blessing.

With three lively younger children to focus on, Judy's home is a hive of activity.

But from jewellery they wear, photographs on their mobile phones and even a personalised car number plate in memory of Jessie, it is clear the bubbly, popular and pretty teenager who was cruelly stolen from them is still very much a tangible part of their daily lives.

The West Australian

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