When Tressa Middleton gave birth in 2006, she made headlines as “Britain’s youngest mum.”
Original publication date 28 August 2012;
Shockingly, the 12-year-old schoolgirl had fallen pregnant aged just 11 – and later revealed the sickening truth that her brother, Jason, then 16, had raped her and fathered the baby.
However, in June this year, life finally appeared to be looking up for brave Tressa, now 18, when she told Closer she was clean from drugs and expecting a baby with her fiancé, Darren Young, 25.
'I know what he did was wrong, and so does he, but my mum wouldn’t want it to ruin our lives'
But tragedy struck twice last month, when she suffered a miscarriage, then her mum, Tracey Tallons, 41, died from pneumonia just three days later.
Yet, despite her heartache, Tressa exclusively tells Closer that coming face to face with her brother, now 23 – who was released from prison in March after serving three years of his sentence – at their mum’s funeral two weeks ago, has given her closure. And, incredibly, she even admits she has forgiven him.
She says: “Jason helped carry Mum’s coffin. He was in bits, like I was. We kept our distance and didn’t make eye contact. But we both cried.
“It was the first time I’d seen him in four years – but I didn’t feel any hatred towards him. I know what he did was wrong, and so does he, but my mum wouldn’t want it to ruin our lives. She can rest in peace knowing we’re moving on. I forgive him.”
Heartbreakingly, Tressa, who fell out with Tracey after she refused to cease contact with Jason, had only rebuilt her relationship with her mum shortly before she died.
"I want to have another baby one day and hope Mum looks down on me, proud”
Tressa says: “We’d decided not to let Jason come between us. I want to have another baby one day and hope Mum looks down on me, proud.”
Tressa, from West Lothian, Scotland was just seven when Jason, then 12, started abusing her. She recalls: “He’d tell Mum he was taking me to the shops, but he’d take me to building sites and say he wanted to teach me about ‘sex education.’”
Aged 11, Tressa fell pregnant but, to “protect” her mum, she said a local boy was the father. She gave birth to a healthy baby girl in June 2006, but Tracey battled drinking problems and, unable to help Tressa care for the baby, they were taken into care three weeks after the birth.
“I didn’t want to leave Mum – I was devastated,” says Tressa. “I struggled to breastfeed, but I did everything else for my baby. I felt like a good mum. Although I could see Jason in her, I still loved her to bits.”
But, two years later, haunted by the horrific sexual abuse she’d suffered, Tressa decided to tell the police the truth.
However, even when DNA tests proved Jason was the dad, Tracey didn’t believe Tressa and refused to cease contact with her rapist son. Tressa says: “I begged her to listen to me, but she said she couldn’t. I didn’t understand. I needed her.”
Tressa suffered a further blow when psychologists decided her baby should be adopted.
“It was heartbreaking, but I understood. I couldn’t face telling her that her uncle was her father when she was older,” Tressa explains. “She was given to new parents, but I was allowed to see her every day for about six months before contact stopped. The last time I saw her was at a crèche – but she was crying for her new parents. It broke my heart.”
In July 2009, Jason was convicted of rape at the High Court in Glasgow and sentenced to four years in prison.
In 2010, she met her fiancé, fellow addict Darren, and, by October that year, they were using £800-worth of heroin a day – paid for with benefits and money made from shoplifting.
But, determined to turn their lives around, they both got clean last August. Tressa explains she wanted her daughter – who cannot be named for legal reasons – to be proud of her, saying: “I’d think about her and how horrified she’d be.”
A month later, in June, Tressa who still receives letters from her daughter’s adoptive parents, found out she was two months pregnant. She recalls: “I was so excited and Mum couldn’t wait to be a gran again.”
But, devastatingly, she suffered a miscarriage a few weeks later.
She says: “When the doctor couldn’t find a heartbeat, me and Darren burst into tears. It felt like my future had been ripped away.”
Tragically, Tressa couldn’t even turn to her mum because, just three days later, asthma sufferer Tracey died from pneumonia.
“I couldn’t believe she’d gone – and so soon after my baby. My world had crumbled,” Tressa says.
But Tressa was determined to attend Tracey’s funeral, despite knowing Jason would be there.
“When he came out of prison, I wanted nothing to do with him – I hated him. But I never even considered missing Mum’s funeral,” Tressa explains.
And, astonishingly, seeing Jason there has given her the strength to look forwards. She says: “I was nervous and really emotional when I saw him. The past didn’t seem to matter any more. I won’t stay in touch with him, but I don’t hate him.”
Tressa, who’s hoping to have counselling to help her grieve, adds: “I want to forget the past and focus on the future – and build a new family, if I can.”