The Loose Women and Hollyoaks regular is turning her attention to crime survivors.
Survivors with Denise Welch explores what it means to live with the trauma of enduring and surviving horrific crimes and the incredible effort and courage required to rebuild a life in the aftermath.
At the heart of each episode is the story of someone who has been forced to confront unimaginable horror and yet has lived to tell the tale, with crimes ranging from a vicious and unprovoked stabbing by a stranger, and a diabolical acid attack, to the victims of a three-hour filmed torture session, domestic violence, and a thirteen-year reign of terror and abuse.
Exploring each case, Denise meets up with Sammy Woodhouse, Bethany Marchant, Christopher Spry, Kayleigh White, Adele Bellis and Tony Hannington to find out what was going through their minds at every stage of the crime, how they found the inner strength to survive and face their attackers in court, and how the devastating turn of events irrevocably altered their lives.
The first episode of the series focuses on the story of survivor Kayleigh White.
Denise is a favourite face on ITV’s Loose Women
Aged just 17, Kayleigh was knifed in the back by a stranger in Yeovil, Somerset, in June 2015 while walking to the house of her best friend, Liv.
Lee Jeffries-Jones, 31, grabbed Kayleigh, asked, ‘Are you alright?’ then plunged the knife into her. The blade went so deep it chopped Kayleigh’s kidney in half, snipped the top off her pancreas, pierced her stomach, and damaged her spleen.
Kayleigh collapsed but, realising her attacker was standing over her, managed to drag herself to her friend’s house, where she begged for help. Quick-thinking Kayleigh asked Liv to take a photo of her attacker who, high on a mixture of drugs and alcohol, was still holding the bread knife: this was later used as evidence in court.
They then rushed to the hospital, with Liv cradling Kayleigh in the back seat of the car, using a towel to put pressure on the wound.
Lee later attacked a mother washing her car, stabbing her in the arm, and a dad putting his baby into a car seat. Luckily, the knife snapped as he attacked the man, who managed to overpower and detain him. Lee had been out of jail for just two months when he launched the attack, following a previous jail term for burglary.
Kayleigh was given a 1% chance of survival and had to undergo extensive 10-hour surgery to stop the bleeding, which left her with 40 staples in her body. She initially pleaded with doctors to let her die as the pain was unbearable.
Denise recently joined the cast of Channel 4’s early evening serial, Hollyoaks.
Kayleigh was in the hospital for four months, and once home, became addicted to the prescribed but highly addictive opioid Tapentadol. Kayleigh also battled alcohol addiction, and up to 18 months after the attack, she had to hold her mother’s hand if she left the house due to the ordeal’s trauma.
Prior to her attack Kayleigh had hoped to become a police officer and study forensics, but because of her experience, she was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder. As a result, she is unable to join the force.
On the 4th of February 2016, Lee Jeffries-Jones was jailed for 20 years at Taunton Crown Court. He pleaded guilty to attempted murder for Kayleigh’s attack and two other counts of wounding with intent. He won’t be eligible for parole until 2026.
Kayleigh story is examined in the first episode of the new Survivors series on C+I. As well as speaking to Kayleigh the programme features her mother Louise, best friend Liv who was with Kayleigh shortly after the attack, Physiologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos & Queen’s Council Melanie Simpson.
Survivors with Denise Welch tonight on CRIME+INVESTIGATION, at 9pm