A-Z

Ann - Interview 24

Age at interview: 57
Brief Outline: In 2005 Ann's son, Westley, was murdered. He was attacked by a man with a knife. Ann and her family were devastated. Ann started the organisation KnifeCrimes.org which supports other victims of crime and which aims prevent other knife attacks.
Background: Ann was in business (now retired). She has 3 children (1 murdered). Ethnic background/nationality: White British

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On 12 September 2005 Ann’s 27 year old son, Westley, was at a cash machine waiting to take out some money. A man pushed in front of him. Westley asked the man to wait for his turn. The man left hurriedly and soon returned with his brother, who attacked Westley with a knife. The knife severed Westley’s carotid artery. An ambulance was called, but Westley either died at the scene or soon afterwards.
 
Ann heard the terrible news that her son had been stabbed via the telephone. Someone who knew the family had seen what had happened and immediately told Ann that Westley had been attacked. Ann hoped that her son had survived. She called her other son and her daughter and they went to the hospital immediately. Ann was desperate to see Westley, but the police liaison officer told her that she would have to wait until the next day because of the necessary post-mortem and forensic investigation.
 
Ann was shocked by the death of her son. She believes that the grief experienced when losing a child due to murder cannot be compared with the grief others may experience when someone dies in any other way.
 
Westley’s funeral was delayed because the defendants’ solicitors asked for another post-mortem. The long delays were very distressing. Ann believes that the balance of justice has swung too much to the side of those accused and that the rights of the bereaved family are not given enough consideration. At times Ann feels angry about this.
 
Westley’s funeral took place in church. There was a traditional High church service, which was planned to give honour and dignity to Westley’s life. There was another service in the crematorium. Ann has kept Westley’s ashes. She wants her ashes to be buried with her son’s ashes when she dies. She feels that Westley’s spirit is with her as she talks to young people in schools about knife crime. Ann’s work is a memorial to Westley. There is also a bench with a plaque in a local park as a memorial.
 
The inquest was opened and then closed because it was clearly a case for the courts. Ann felt desperate for information. She feared that the person or people responsible for Westley’s murder would get off without justice being served.
 
The court case was 11 months after Westley died, in August 2006. Ann arranged a meeting with the crown prosecutor just before the case started. Ann wanted to make an Impact Statement, but the trial started before the Impact Statement scheme was running in all courts. However, she was able to make a Personal Statement, which she wrote herself. The judge felt that Ann’s Personal Statement was too upsetting for the jury to hear, so he only allowed the jury to hear three sentences, which made Ann angry.
 
The man who started the incident at the cash machine was found guilty of manslaughter and is due to be released in March 2009. He did not have to ask for parole. The other brother was found guilty of murder and was given a life sentence, but can apply for parole after 15 years. Ann is angry that those found guilty of knife crime do not receive as long a sentence as those found guilty of gun crime. She believes that both men’s sentences were too lenient.
 
Ann is still fighting to obtain criminal injuries compensation for losing her son. Although Westley died in an unprovoked attack and he was an innocent man, Ann’s claim was turned down. She has appealed but is still waiting for the money. She feels very angry that it has been so difficult to obtain this compensation.
 
Ann has not had any formal counselling herself. She has been able to channel her pain and anger into a proactive campaign to try to address some of the issues that affect families bereaved due to murder. She has gained strength via the people she has met through Victims Voice and through her work to prevent other violent attacks. Ann started an organisation called Knife Crimes. She has put together a programme called Westley’s Weapons Awareness and she goes into schools and talks to young people about the consequences of carrying a knife and what happens when people get involved in anti-social behaviour. She also helps to train youth offending team workers and police officers.
 
Ann is in favour of restorative justice, but at the moment she does not want to meet the man who was responsible for her son’s death or his brother, because she is worried that the defence lawyers might use the meeting to help their client, the man who murdered Westley, to reduce his sentence.
 
Ann believes that those who work for Victims Support need more training and she also believes that there should be a Victim’s Commissioner to support victims of crime.
 

Westley was stabbed by a stranger. He had asked the other man to wait his turn while getting...

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Yes, Westley, on the 12th September 2005 had actually decided to spend the day with his older brother, and had gone across to his home around midday, and during the early part of the afternoon he decided he would go and get some cash from the nearest cash machine, rather than wait until he’d actually got into town. The first cash machine he went to the machine wasn’t working, so he then cycled down to another parade of shops, just on a, on a small estate. There were about six or seven shops on this parade, and he put his bicycle against a wall, waited in the queue, and as the lady left the machine and he went to step up, so somebody tried to push in front of him. He naturally, as I believe most people would do, I certainly would do, he said to the person that they should wait their turn. And the person became very angry, went away swearing, and unbeknown to Westley telephoned his brother. During the actual court case that we went through, roughly about 11months after the incident, there was CCTV footage that showed Westley having used the machine and putting his money away, he was talking to the man that had been behind, and they look across in puzzlement towards the car park area where a car had pulled in at speed, out jumped the driver who joined the earlier man that had tried to push in front of Westley, we later came to realise they were brothers. They walked purposefully at speed towards Westley and the other man, who was still looking puzzled, and one appeared to punch Westley in the neck. He had in fact a knife in his hand, and severed Westley’s carotid artery. This actually happened at 3 o’clock in the afternoon.
 

And how did you hear about it?

 

Well again it’s such a small world. Somebody actually saw the incident unfolding that knew us as a family, so the news got to me personally before the police had the opportunity to go through the normal process of sending someone and delivering the information in a sensitive way.
 
So did you get the information by telephone?
 
The information came by telephone, at that point. The person, I never really established who it was, other than it was someone who knew Westley and knew us as a family, they were saying, “We think Westley’s been stabbed.”
 

Ann felt many emotions including fear and anger. She decided that she must do something with the...

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What did you fear the most? You said you were fearful?
 
I feared that the person, or persons would get off. That was the biggest fear.
 
That ultimately there wouldn’t be someone answerable for this terrible, terrible loss.
 
So what other emotions did you feel over those last years?
 
Well there have been times of anger of course.
 
Rage. I understand that to be a very normal emotion, what I realised quite quickly was that something had to be done with that rage. Those times when that anger and rage came to the fore, I needed to do something with it because it’s that element of the grief which is the most damaging, I believe. I believe that to be damaging in many ways, in the physical health sense, in the mental health sense, and most important was I needed to keep a grip otherwise the devastation would be greater for Westley’s brother and sister.
 

Ann was angry when the judge said that her Victim Personal Statement was too upsetting for the...

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Were you allowed to make a personal statement?
 
I was able to make a personal statement. In fact I wrote my own personal statement. I felt that I knew what my emotions that I felt were all about and it was a bit easier for me to put that in some kind of understandable chronological order, in terms of what we were feeling, rather than someone else trying to write it on my behalf. So I actually wrote it, but to this day I was very saddened by the fact that throughout that court process, we as a family were unable to show any emotion, they, it’s part of the court process that you must not show emotion. When the trial actually started, I in all ignorance in fact, sat in part of the public area, which was reserved for the journalists, and the defense actually said that we were to be moved because we could be influencing the jury.
 
Oh.
 
And that’s quite a common.
 
But did anybody see your personal statement?
 
Well ultimately after the trial the judge felt that it was too upsetting for the jury to hear, and only allowed three sentences to be read out. I felt this was very, very unfair because we had to listen to the very last moments, some very harrowing information about my son’s last moments, and that was far worse for a jury to hear and to see video, CCTV footage. I felt that that, that we should’ve been allowed the whole of that impact statement to be read out. Everyone that has since read that statement has said that it is impactive, surely that’s the purpose of it, to be impactive, but that wasn’t to be, so again that’s one of the reasons why I felt that to give Westley’s life meaning and purpose in a continued way, on another level, I had to channel the emotions and the pain and the grief, and those days where I felt angry into some kind of positive work. 
 
 
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Ann felt that she did not get enough help from Victim Support. She decided that some volunteers...

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Did anybody from Victim Support ever come and visit you?
 
Yes, Victim Support did. But I feel that Victim Support should have further specialised training to deal with murder victims families. I am not one to sit and criticise systems and say well they don’t do this, and they don’t do that. But what I would say is, they need to do better. It’s not just me saying that, anyone that works within the realms of Victim Support genuinely do so because they want to do good work. It’s not a question of that but many families say the same, that Victim Support hasn’t really given them the support they needed, and I believe that to be because the trauma that victims families go through is not understood enough, and again to, there has been as I understand it and probably you, you could clarify this, there was research recently done where 93% of families interviewed that had suffered sudden death and serious violent crime were suffering post traumatic stress, various symptoms within the strata of post traumatic stress. And of that 93%, 64% were severe symptoms. And I think that if that was taken on board more, by people such as the Criminal Injuries Compensation, and Victim Support, if that was understood and recognised, more widely, then I think we wouldn’t have the problems that are, that are being expressed. Often if a family are feeling that terrible rage, and a nice person comes from Victim Support, or even a Family Liaison Officer, and because of that person’s grief and frustration they start getting very angry, and displaying that anger to the Family Liaison Officer, or the Victim Support, the person that’s come to help, and that person doesn’t understand that’s part of their post traumatic stress, then they take it personally, and they go away often, and don’t come back again?
 
Is that what happened in your case? What actually happened to you with Victim support?
 
Well a Victim Support lady came, a very nice lady. And when the actual funeral was due to take place I actually invited her to the funeral. And she explained that she was very sorry that she couldn’t come to Westley’s funeral because she was actually dealing with housing for a family of illegal immigrants. Now, I felt that if she’d have understood the pain that we were going through  the fact that her work necessitated her, quite reasonably to look after a family that were in Britain that shouldn’t have been here, one would have thought she would have had the sense not to impart that information to me. Because how can a family of any other set of circumstances be more important than my dead son? No-one could expect me to be able to say, “Oh yes, well of course that’s much more important.”
 
So it upset you?
 
So that was upsetting to me.
 
That was quite insulting really to my son. I felt, you know as I’ve said earlier I’ve tried throughout the whole process to try and take the weaknesses of the criminal justice system and say well rather than jump and down and shout and holler about the fact that it’s all wrong, let’s pinpoint it, lets say well this section applies, and that’s got to be changed to give a better situation for future victims families.
 
Did the lady from Victim Support do anything to help at all?
 
Well she came round, and she gave me information about CICA, but I didn’t really feel that she gave me support, and she didn’t because she didn’t know how to. That’s the simple bottom line. It wasn’t that she was coming here to you know, to make herself feel good, that’s not why people do that work, but the fact of the matter is that if you don’t know how to help somebody you’re not going to be able to help them. As simple as that. And for the person on the receiving end they just get frustrated and think, “Oh well go away don’t bother to come back”. You know, to me the way to support somebody is to always let that person know that you’re there, you’re here if they need to pick up the phone and talk about jam doughnuts, if that helps.
 
Could you have done that for her?
 
With her, no. No because I think she, I think when I said how disgusted I was at certain elements of the criminal justice system, instead of just listening I think she felt that I was directing it personally at her, I don’t know because I never actually had any personal arguments, but I think I probably displayed a negativity.
 
I think it as simple as pie to help families that are going through this kind of grief, and it’s simple by the mere fact that sometimes the desperation is so great that you just need somebody to listen, that’s the most important thing, so really Victim Support just could do with some tweaking, if you like, some training in dealing with serious victims’ families. I mean they receive an awful lot of money from the government to, to do that service, invariably, and that service is given to everyone, which is fantastic, it you know, somebody that suffers a burglary or a minor, you know incident, has the right to have Victim Support, and that’s fantastic. But dealing with victims’ families that have suffered sudden death through, and when I say sudden death, it’s not just murder of course, sudden death that is shocking, it can be somebody run over, suicide, which must rate very closely in that, in what that must do to a family, and there’s no-one answerable, so I think that specialised, there should be within victim support certain people that are specially trained to deal with.
 
So you don’t think she had any specialist training this person?
 
Well, I understand that Victim Support do have training, but, as I say.
 
She couldn’t answer certain questions that you wanted answered for example?
 
Well I don’t think she was consistent. You know, a month down the line did I get any phone call, two months down the line, did I get a phone call?
 
No?
 
A year down the line did I get a phone call? You know to me somebody that’s prepared to support, is someone that thinks, “I wonder how Westley’s Mum is at the moment?” Oh…
 
You’ve never had follow up phone calls?
 
No. And I don’t think that’s uncommon, you know, you know other families that I am involved with have said the same. It may not be the fault of Victim Support people individually, I’ve got no criticism, I must emphasise that, you know the lady that came was very nice, it’s not that I’m criticising her, but I am criticising the training perhaps that they’re getting. I know that I used to think well perhaps it was me, but there are far too many other families that say the same. 
 

Ann founded Knifecrimes.org. She goes into schools and talks to children about the consequences...

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You said that your work has helped you do you want to just say a few words about the website you set up and the work you do?
 
Yes, I founded an organisation called knifecrimes.org and the website is likewise knifecrimes.org and that entails going into schools with a programme that’s specifically put together called ‘Westley’s Weapons Awareness’, and that programme talks about what happened to Westley but also talks about all the other consequences of carrying knives, it also takes into account what’s called the “Be Safe Project” which is currently a partnership organisation of Knifecrimes.org and we are now not only going into schools, but training youth offending team workers and police officers, safer schools’ officers, in that programme, which challenges the, challenges young people, to what can happen, not only if they carry a knife, but their future job prospects and travel prospects if they become involved in anti-social behaviour, crime, and street, getting involved in street gangs, etc, etc. It’s a cycle which once they become embroiled in that and possibly involved in abuses of alcohol and drugs. So the rest of the website actually supports families, helps them through the bereavement stages, and generally is an information resource on many levels really. 
 

Ann thinks that a Victims' Commissioner should be appointed as soon as possible. She also thinks...

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What do you think the government should do now? Do you think there should be changes made?
 
I think there’s many changes that needs to be made, but number one is that for a long time now families have been promised a Victims Commissioner, most other countries have a commissioner for victims, Ireland has their commissioner, we have been promised a commissioner for a number of years, I don’t understand why one hasn’t been appointed but it’s crucial that we have a commissioner that one can go to and action certain things that are failing.
 
There’s also a need for support where there’s an acquittal, a number of families have to go through the most devastating double trauma of the perpetrator being caught, going through the trial process and they walk free. There are a number of situations, and as one example which is not really an acquittal, but if I go back to the brother that was found guilty of manslaughter of my son, now he was found guilty of manslaughter, where was the necessity to say he’s not guilty of murder, except to limit the possibility of any further action against that person? In every other circumstance a person can appeal, the victim whose been murdered cannot appeal from the grave,
 
No.
 
So there should be an appeal process for the victim’s family, where there is an acquittal or where there is a manslaughter, why not be able to challenge that verdict? The only possible reason is that it’s cost, but we need a commissioner, number one. And we need a number of areas within the existing system to give more rights to victim’s families. Particularly under the Human Rights Act. 
 
 
 
 

Ann was allowed to see her son’s body after about 24 hours, but was only allowed to touch his...

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Did you, you saw him the next day?
 
Yes, we were allowed to go, the next day around about the same time. It was, I believe about five-ish. He’d been put in a little side room, and by that time my brother had arrived,  we’d given my mother the news. We all went to the hospital the next day. We went in, I remember going in initially with Westley’s brother and sister, and sitting down and wanting to hug Westley, wanting to touch his hands. We weren’t allowed to do that again because of the forensics. I was allowed to touch his face, it was very striking because Westley’s eyes were open looking across, it appeared as if he was looking across the room. And he had the most distinctive smile on his face. Very distinctive. He looked very happy which is the strangest, strangest thing that I’ve ever witnessed, I, I’ve lost a number of relatives through natural causes, old age or illness, and although people look peaceful they’ve always looked quite categorically deceased. Westley didn’t. Westley looked very much alive that’s the thing that was so striking. He looked as if he’d at any moment he was going to say, “Boo, got you there!” Which would be the sort of prank you know he had a very  huge personality and cheeky, cheeky way about him.
 

Ann pressed the coroner to get her son’s body released. She had to wait three months, which was...

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Can we go back to the terrible time when it all happened? How long did you have to wait before you were allowed to have a funeral?
 
Well that, that is one of the harshest parts of the process, because  we didn’t actually end up having a funeral until three months after Westley was taken, and the worst thing of all was the realisation that the return of Westley we were at the mercy yet again of the very people that had been responsible for taking Westley’s life. Now I know at that point it isn’t a proven fact, but they, these brothers had been charged with being responsible for taking Westley’s life, and yet they had every piece of power to ask for second and subsequent post mortems. On the 2nd of November, after we had lost Westley on the 12th September, we were advised that a second post mortem had in fact taken place. But only one set of solicitors had agreed that Westley could be released. For the following two weeks I was practically out of my mind with every possible imaginable emotion, that the other set of solicitors acting for one of the defendants were obstructing the return of Westley, and were able to obstruct that return of Westley.
 
I finally got to the stage where one morning of the many mornings of feeling very impotent in this the situation, I got up feeling very much that today was the day when I was going to take back control, which sounds quite mad really, but I phoned the coroner’s office and I actually said that if I didn’t have the release of Westley within 24 hours that I would ring every solicitors, every firm of solicitors in London until I found out which solicitors were  basically withholding permission. That’s how I felt.
 
I felt it was completely insensitive and inhuman, inhuman, whether it had; how much it had to do with that statement I don’t know, but I did actually get that agreement within that 24 hours, and hence we had a funeral.
 
 
You had to wait three months?
 
Three months before Westley was released, at the hand if you like of the people that were responsible for his death.
 
And then did you plan the funeral yourself?
 
Yes, that was very difficult. I planned it in such a way that there was a traditional funeral at the church, and then we went from the church to the crematorium and had a second service for younger people really, because we had the first service at the High Church, very traditional. And then at the crematorium we had pop music, and that sort of thing. 
 
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A victim liaison officer keeps Ann informed if one of the offenders comes up for parole. She...

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So this, this person from the parole office, what did you call him?
 
He is a Victim Liaison Officer from Probation.
 
Did he come here?
 
Yes he came here,
 
What did he tell you?
 
Well he basically explained what would be happening throughout, you know, the period that both of them would serve their sentences, that anything, any appeals that would be happening he would notify; the progress basically of their, their sentencing would be advised. I would be kept informed of that. But in terms, in terms of what that gives us, or what that gives a family, if there’s no parole process it’s given me nothing really, in except another piece of frustration.
 
In terms of the other one who might come before a parole board, presumably you could say something that might affect his parole? Could you?
 
Well, when his parole comes up, which is probably another thirteen and a bit years now, he will be entitled to have a solicitor at that parole hearing. What will I have? I will have the ability to probably make a fresh Impact Statement to what it means, but as a logical person if our feelings aren’t taken into account throughout the court process, if my son’s life has very little input to that process other than the facts, then by the mere fact that that’s the situation during the trial, the parole process will not give me a stronger position, it will be a weaker position in fact, the whole of that parole process will on the balance of probabilities be about once again that perpetrator, it will be saying, “Is this person fit to go back into society?”. Now from the family’s point of view, whatever, I’m allowed to say at that point, I doubt it will have a huge amount of impact on that, rightly or wrongly.
 
Do you like to know what’s happening to them while they are in prison?
 
Yes, I’ve elected to know what is going on, as much as I’m allowed to know. I honestly felt that 15 years isn’t enough for someone that’s had a history of violence. 
 
 

Ann works hard to help other families bereaved through a knife crime and referred families with...

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Is there any particular support that you feel is very important for young children of families who have been bereaved? I mean there’s Winston’s Wish, and there are different organisations like that?
 
Yes, I think Winston’s Wish is excellent, I mean literally, because people are being referred to me now in their stages of well, the same road that I’m on, but I’m just that bit further on. One of the things that I’ve specifically been fortunate enough [to have] I’ve got training in the pipeline so that I can understand child bereavement. It would always be that I would refer them to people like Winton’s Wish, but within the families that I may go and visit, to be able to deal across the board with understanding what’s going on with the child’s bereavement, I think is important to the work that I’m doing. But yes, it is crucial because it’s so easy to forget that a grand-daughter or a grand-son maybe taking on board their parents’ pain or an Aunt or an Uncle’s pain, when the family has experienced this kind of loss, and we can so easily forget what’s happening to them. 
 

Misunderstandings may occur if people don't realise the liaison officer is an intermediary...

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Some of the misunderstanding that can happen is where families think that the Family Liaison Officer is a support network person, when in fact they are investigative bodies, an intermediary between the family and the investigation team, so it’s important that the family are made aware, in a sensitive way by the Family Liaison Officer, but that the Family Liaison Officer is armed with an understanding of the serious trauma that the family are going through, so that he or she is able to have that two way important rapport with the family. So that important information will be forthcoming from the family, but sensitivity and an expert way of dealing with the family is also going back, so it’s…
 
Mm. So you think the family should be warned that anything they say might go back to the investigation team?
 
Well I think they should be told frankly that the police work is about justice for their loved one, and part of that justice will mean that any information that that the family can give is important to that process, and that is part of their job. 
 

Ann’s son was murdered in 2005 and the trial was in 2006 but she was still fighting to obtain...

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How much money do people have a right to, as Criminal Compensation?
 
The amount of money is about £11,000. Of which half of that, five and a half thousand is for the father, five and a half thousand is for the mother. Now as we know, society; nowadays not all Mums and Dads are married, not all Mums and Dads are pro-actively Mum’s and Dad’s, often the missing parent has not played much part in the upbringing of that child. So there again I feel that, for that missing parent to be able to even make that claim despite the fact that they will have huge hoops to jump through anyway, I think that needs looking at.
 
I can give you one example of the pain that I was unnecessarily put through by the Criminal Injuries Compensation situation, and that is a week before Christmas. I was asked to send a copy of the birth certificate for Westley, to prove that I’d given birth to the child that I was grieving. This is an absurd thing to have to do, but most important, did no-one think of the possibility that asking for that so close to the worst possible time of the year, Christmas, was hugely insensitive, and I’m sure the poor people that are on the other end of the phone probably have a number of people getting very angry and people thinking well, that’s a very unreasonable person without realising that it’s not that the person’s unreasonable, they’re in a terrible state of often post-traumatic stress.
 
Was it very difficult to get the money?
 
I’ve never had the money.
 
Oh.
 
I’m still in the process of fighting it.
 
But why?
 
Well because for silly reasons. Virtually every family is turned down at the first stage.
 
I just thought it would be a form and get the money.
 
Well, no it isn’t. Earlier today I had a phone call from a lady who is not, not everyone has a background of writing letters, is not always a) somebody’s forte and b) they haven’t always the ability to find the will to write the letters when they get turned down, to actually appeal, to read the books, to look at the forms.
 
But why has yours been delayed?
 
Well because, I mean as far as I’m concerned, I was just turned down, when I wrote back and appealed, I mean certainly when the case was heard the judge, one of the judges comments was that Westley’s life had been taken, a completely innocent man in an unprovoked attack.
 
So why haven’t you automatically been given the money?
 
Because of the monies don’t come through automatically, and what’s more I’ve come to realise that certain cases get dealt with very much quicker than other cases, if they’re high profile they’ll often get paid out where somebody else’s may not get paid out.
 
What date was the trial?
 
The trial was August 2006.
 
So they’ve had plenty of time.
 
Yes, in fact I’ve only just phoned recently to the CICA, the London office apparently had been closed, the papers go from Scotland to London and back again.
 
Sorry, what’s the CICA?
 
Oh the Criminal Injuries Compensation.
 
So you’re still waiting?

I’m still fighting it. Yes.
 
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Ann was angry that the man who killed her son will serve only 15 years before he can apply for...

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Yes, these brothers were charged jointly with Westley’s murder. Sadly the one that had caused the whole thing to unfold in the first place, the brother that had unreasonably tried to push in front of Westley, we subsequently came to realise that they had both been involved in violence, in carrying knives, and probably now they both would have been found guilty of murder. But as it happened the one that caused the whole thing was found not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter, and is due to be released in March of 2009. That’s very hard for me and the rest of the family. I’ve tried very much to protect Westley’s brother and sister from that knowledge or from the awareness too much of that situation because Westley’s sister’s birthday is in March, I will probably have to speak to them nearer the time, because I don’t know how much of it will be reported in the papers. When the actual appeal, the last appeal went ahead earlier this year because the appeal was being heard in London, and it wasn’t common knowledge, I didn’t think for one moment that it would be reported in the local papers, and it was splashed all over the papers so once again you know, as much as I try and protect the family, invariably it creeps up to bite you somewhere.
 
What happened to the other one, was he charged with…?
 
The other one was found guilty of murder. But he was given a life sentence, but that life sentence means that he will serve 15 years before he can apply for parole. Now, he had previous history of violence. Why has he only got a tariff of 15 years, a starting tariff effectively, under the present rules through the criminal justice act of 2003, that is the starting tariff for a life sentence for someone over 18 years of age.
 
That’s the minimum?
 
That’s the minimum. Now if they had shot my son they would probably have, or he rather, the one that was found guilty of murder, would’ve probably got 20 to 25.
 
Why does it make a difference?
 
Well exactly, why does it make a difference? And that’s been the main reason why, where I started out with the campaign, and that is a) to raise the awareness of the fact that if you stab somebody in the chest or in the neck the likelihood is that person will die, and therefore  that’s  almost an act of execution. That person hasn’t set out to harm the person; they’ve set out to most probably kill the person.
 
And in those circumstances, with a history of violence and a history of carrying knives, knife crime if you like, knife based murder and a murder to a gun should be a comparable life sentence. Now from the original campaign, of asking the government to deal with knife crime and gun crime in a similar sense, we have actually on the lower end, people that are found to be carrying a knife or a gun got close to the sentences that can be imposed, but invariably they’re not being imposed. But in terms of murder and manslaughter, they are still very far apart on  the actual life sentences, tariffs that are given.  
 

Ann suggests that people should focus their terrible grief into something positive in memory of...

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Have you got any messages to other people who’ve been bereaved like you?
 
Well yes I would, I would say that the pain is the most devastating, I can’t emphasise that enough. To anyone that’s probably looking at pieces of information such as this one that we’re doing now, sometimes the person can look on the face of it, as if they’re coping very well, and I think that we should never be complacent about the possible psychological effects that that person is going through. And hopefully if I can get this message to any other family, any other mum or brother or sister or father, take each day minute by minute, hour by hour and day by day. And try to focus that terrible, terrible grief into something positive in the memory of their lost loved one. On the days when you feel you have energy to spare, try and take the hand of the next person. If we can all link in with each other through organisations where people that have experienced loss, as we have with Westley, that are able, and I say able because it’s not easy. I count myself as a lucky person that I’ve been able to take those steps up the ladder and be able to give a little bit of help to other people, but everyone can do it, not as frequently maybe, but we can all do it if we link in with each other and give each other some strengths on the days when our strength is perhaps waning a bit.
 
Because it doesn’t matter how strong you are, maybe for six days of the week, on the seventh day you may be, you know, a little heap in the corner, so, don’t ever think that if you have those days, and they’re quite frequent, that you’re failing your loved one. It’s just the process, it’s just the way it is, and the next day maybe a different day, and you know we all, we all have to go through it, and we all can go through it, but we all have different ways of doing it.  
 

Family members were all devastated and so found it hard to support each other in the way they...

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It’s very very easy I think to often forget the Father’s grief, the brothers’ and sisters’ grief, grandparents. The whole emotional cost goes on like a ripple within a family and the normal support mechanism that would take place when one member of the family has a problem, we’d normally rally round to help that person, it all fragments because everyone is in the same terrible place in differing degrees, and for different reasons within the family structure.
 
 
Did you have formal counselling or professional help yourself?
 
I haven’t actually gone for counselling, before this happened to Westley I was very much involved in people that were experiencing addictions, and to some degree counselling other people, so I’ve really gone through doing my own analysis, I have journalled everything, from very early on I kept a day by day diary of my emotions, what was happening within the family, what was happening within the court process and so on and so forth, but I kept that for a two year period so that I could refer to it, but it’s the people that I’ve met very much through Victims’ Voice through working with as I now do with the with the police, with schools, with my local M.P. in campaigning to try and address some of the issues that affect families. That’s what’s kept me going.
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