Inquest: Ex-partner played a ‘manipulative game’

The partner of Rachael Slack told the inquest this week how her ex-partner, Andrew Cairns, played a “manipulative game” with her in the months leading up to her death.

Robert Barlow, who had started seeing old school friend Rachael in January 2010 after they got in touch via Facebook, said Mr Cairns behaviour was a “massive contrast” to the man he had met some years previously.

“It became evident that she (Rachael) was suffering with Andrew and the day to day dealing with Andrew,” Mr Barlow said.”I realised that it just wasn’t illness, there was no getting away from the fact he was poorly and I would say mentally poorly.”

Mr Barlow, who runs a joinery manufacturing company, told the coroners’ court on Monday, September 16, Mr Cairns was contacting Rachael two to three times a day claiming he was ill. He had also not bought himself basic household provisions, said Mr Barlow.

However, he and Rachael soon began to suspect Mr Cairns was lying after Mr Barlow spotted Mr Cairns in Ripley town centre on a day when he claimed he had been unable to get out of bed.

Mr Barlow continued: “He was starting to play a manipulative game with Rachael to grab her attention. I could see a man who was suffering and had opted out of society.”

During a visit the pair made to Cairns’ home Mr Barlow said he noticed Auden was the “only thing in the room” and that when he wasn’t dealing with his son, Mr Cairns was “disengaged” and “oblivious”.

A few days before her death Miss Slack contacted Mr Barlow by text message asking if she could collect him early from work because Mr Cairns was in her car following a visit to see Auden and she was worried he would not get out.

After the pair had dropped Mr Cairns off, Mr Barlow said he stood and stared at them driving away.

Miss Slack then parked the car and told Mr Barlow how Mr Cairns had said, “you’ve no idea what I’m capable of, I’ll kill you and take him with me,”.

Mr Barlow added: “I actually said to Rachael something much bigger is going to come from this. It was at that time I started to feel not safe. We started to talk about do you really think he could do something and that style of conversation. We didn’t get to sleep until the early hours. We were talking about what happened - she was so upset.”

The pair went to report the incident to police. The inquest was told Mr Cairns had previously undergone a mental health assessment, but was not detained.

Mr Barlow added: “We kept in touch throughout the next day constantly. She was concerned he had been let out and she was definitely surprised that he had.”

Miss Slack, Andrew Cairns and little Auden Slack were found dead having suffered multiple stab wounds on June 2.

Latest from the hearing, which includes evidence from police officers who attended the the cottage, will be on our website - go to