WHEN Kate Hutchinson fell pregnant from a one-night stand, it took her a year to admit the truth to his dad.
But Dane Blake, 32, threw himself into dad duties - and the 29-year-old mum, from Greymouth, New Zealand, was delighted.
Tragically, just months later, Kate was left devastated and full of regret when her beloved son Leith was shaken to death by his own dad.
Speaking exclusively to Fabulous, Kate tells her story...
Things started to go downhill between my partner Romi and me when our son Issac was a few months old.
He was a fisherman, meaning he was often away at sea, and we were arguing constantly.
During one of Romi's many trips away, I was sat at home, feeling sorry for myself, when my phone bleeped.
It was a text from Dane Blake, a friend of a friend. “How are you doing?” he asked.
Dane lived nearby and I'd only met him a few times, but he kept texting me. Clearly he was interested.
The attention boosted my shattered self-esteem. We chatted online for a while, before I invited him round for a drink.
I didn’t fancy Dane. He was gormless looking with a big nose and ears that stuck out. But I felt like I needed the company.
After a few drinks, one thing led to another and we ended up in bed.
I instantly knew it was a mistake, a one-night stand wasn't the answer, and I decided not to breathe a word to Romi.
When Dane texted me, I made sure he knew it was over between us.
Then I put it behind me - until I missed my next period. I was pregnant!
Romi returned from sea within a couple of days of my encounter with Dane, so I convinced myself the baby was his.
He was away working when Leith was born, but cradled him proudly when he got home.
“Hello son,” he grinned. "He’s definitely yours", I told myself.
Leith was such an easy baby - he only cried when he was hungry. His big brother Issac, then 13 months, doted on him, stroking his head and kissing him.
When Leith was about six weeks old, he smiled for the first time. The room lit up.
“You’re the apple of mummy’s eye,” I beamed, showering him in kisses.
But just a few weeks later, his cute little features started to change. His ears and nose became more prominent. And that’s when I knew.
"S***! He's Dane's!" I thought. I was certain Romi would notice - but he didn’t. A few months later, Romi and I broke up and I met someone else.
As the months passed, Leith looked even more like Dane. Mind you, on him the nose and ears looked cute.
I felt guilty about deceiving everyone though. I couldn’t let Romi carry on thinking he was Leith’s daddy.
So just before his first birthday, I broke the news to him. It was a shock but he took it pretty well.
“I’d still like to be involved in Leith’s life,” he said.
Next, I texted Dane. He deserved to know.
There’s no easy way to deliver news like that so I just said, “Hi, my little boy is yours. You’re a dad.”
He texted straight back. “Wow! I had a feeling he was,” he replied.
He wanted to see Leith so we met up in a local park - which went well. “He’s really mine?” he grinned.
We continued to meet up over the next few weeks.
I got to hold him, kiss him and cuddle him as his life support was turned offKate Hutchinson
Dane was good with Leith and seemed genuinely made up about being a dad. I was glad he was taking an interest. I wanted my son to know his father.
“That kid is the best thing that’s ever happened to me,” he insisted.
When he asked if he could occasionally take Leith overnight, I had no hesitation in saying yes. He had family support and an aunt who was a nurse.
A few weeks later, Dane called when I was on the way to pick Leith up.
“Kate, Leith’s in hospital,” Dane said. “He's had a little accident and hurt his leg.”
I rushed to the hospital. It turned out Leith had a broken femur, I was furious.
I rang Dane and piled abuse on him. “What did you do?” I ranted. “Nothing. I swear,” Dane protested. “He climbed up on a table and fell off.”
“You should have been watching him,” I snapped. Social Services automatically investigated - but cleared Dane, saying it was an accident.
I figured he’d learned his lesson and would be more careful in future.
Leith started staying at his dad's one night during the week and one night at weekends.
Then in April 2015, three months after Leith turned one, the police turned up at my home in the early hours.
“You’re needed at the hospital,” an officer said. “Your little boy isn’t well.”
In a blind panic, I dropped Issac at my mum’s and raced to the hospital.
Leith was on a bed surrounded by doctors and nurses. He looked lifeless. “My baby!” I sobbed.
A nurse pulled me aside. “He wasn’t breathing but we’ve got him stabilised,” she said.
Dane was there too. “Kate, I didn’t do this. I swear on my nanna’s grave,” he choked. “I just heard him making funny noises and brought him here.”
We were put on an air ambulance to go to Starship Hospital in Auckland.
I was sobbing. “I love you Leith. Please, hold on,” I cried.
Suddenly, Leith stopped breathing for a second time - but a doctor and paramedic revived him.
The police were waiting at Auckland and interviewed us both.
I was devastated - why didn't he call me? I only lived a few minutes away. Instead, he killed our baby.Kate Hutchinson
Afterwards, I sat by Leith’s bed, holding his hand, kissing him. Doctors said he had serious brain injuries.
After two days, I was told the injuries were irreversible. “There’s nothing more we can do,” a doctor said.
I got to hold him, kiss him and cuddle him as his life support was turned off.
“I love you sweetheart,” I sobbed, brokenhearted. He was just 15 months old.
Still, there was no explanation for what had happened.
Dane was saying he didn’t know. He even complained to a local newspaper about being treated as a suspect, saying Leith had obviously been shaken or dropped but he had nothing to do with it.
“It feels like he’s blaming me!” I cried to my friend Kerrinda.
At Leith’s funeral, I decorated his tiny white coffin with pictures of diggers and loaders, his favourite toys.
Dane sat in the row behind me at the service, but I didn’t speak to him. I barely registered him or anyone else.
I was trapped in a horrific dream I couldn’t wake up from.
A few weeks later, the police were back. “We’ve charged Dane with murder,” a detective said. I collapsed in tears.
Dane, 32, denied everything at first, but then admitted manslaughter.
The court was told Leith was crying and Dane couldn’t settle him, so, in a rage, he shook him.
I was devastated - why didn't he call me? I only lived a few minutes away. Instead, he killed our baby.
At Blake's sentencing, Justice Joseph Williams said his actions were a "one-off act of incredible, unbearable, irretrievable stupidity".
Sentences in New Zealand are pretty lenient. I expected seven years, Dane got just five-and-half.
“I hope you rot in hell,” I screamed at Dane as he was taken away. I couldn't help myself.
“How do you get that for killing a baby?” Kerrinda asked tearfully.
For a long while afterwards, I was a lost soul.
I was pregnant when Leith died, and now have a little boy called Bryson. If it wasn’t for him and Issac, I don’t know what I would have done.
At some point, I decided I could let what Dane had done destroy me - or I could fight.
I organised a march to protest against the lenient sentences given to child killers and calling for tougher penalties.
More than 50 people turned up and I gave a speech. I was well outside my comfort zone, but I was doing it for Leith and all the other little boys and girls out there at risk.
In January 2019, to my utter disgust, Dane was paroled. He’d served less than two years. That’s what a child’s life is worth it seems.
I don’t recognise myself nowadays. The old Kate died the day my son died.
I used to be happy-go-lucky, chatty, impulsive, always up for a laugh. Now, I’m quite, withdrawn, ridden with anxiety.
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When I go out, I feel like people are pointing at me.
Dane’s living his life, a free man - while my baby is in the cemetery.
And I’ll forever be known as the mum of that dead little boy killed by his mum’s one night stand lover.
I wish I'd never told him the truth about Leith, so he'd never come back into our lives. I'll regret it until the day I die.