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David - Interview 31

Age at interview: 55
Brief Outline: In 1992, David's son, Simon, was stabbed to death near to his home. He was 17 years old. Simon's death had a huge effect on the family. David and his wife supported each other. They are now members of Support after Murder and Manslaughter (SAMM).
Background: David is a security guard. He is married and has 3 children (1 died). Ethnic background/nationality: White British.

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In 1992, David’s son, Simon, was murdered by two young men, who were aged 15 and 16. David’s other son found Simon on waste ground behind the family home. He called David and then the ambulance and police. Simon probably died where he was stabbed. He was taken to hospital. That night the police interviewed David, his other son, and his wife. The next day David had to go and identify his son in the hospital mortuary. It was only then that David really understood that Simon was dead.
 
The family had to wait about two months before the Simon’s body was released, so meanwhile they had a service in the field where he died. This was attended by about 400 people. When Simon’s body was released they had a service at the crematorium, and then Simon was cremated. His ashes will probably be buried with another member of the family, either David or his wife, whoever dies first.
 
The police were very helpful and kept the family informed about what was happening. David wanted to know every detail about his son’s death, but his wife did not want to know too much. David sent off for the postmortem report and asked the GP to explain what it meant. He was off work for about three months, and found it hard to cope with other people’s reactions when he returned. He did not want other people to talk about the murder.
 
David managed to get some compensation for his son’s death. He also asked a solicitor to help him get some money from the government to help with the funeral costs.
 
At first David did not look for support. He and his wife supported each other. However, over the years he and his wife have found that Parents of Murdered Children, (now called Support after Murder and Manslaughter) has been helpful. They found it helped to read other people’s stories in the quarterly magazine. David sometimes looks at the internet site Gone Too Soon. It makes him feel that at least he is not alone in his loss.
 
The case was brought to a Crown court. The trial took place about a year after Simon’s death. David was not called to give evidence, but his other son had to give evidence, which was hard for him because he was only aged 16. The two young men were found guilty of murder and they were both given life sentences. One served ten years and the other served twelve years. They were then let out on parole. David thinks that they should have served many more years in prison.
 
David was interviewed in 2009.
 

David found his son, Simon, bleeding to death on waste ground behind their house. His son had...

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It was 18th September 1992, the boys had gone over to a youth centre, this was about half past ten, they knew they had had to be back by half past ten. My wife and I were just about to go to bed and actually got ready for bed, we were actually in bed, knowing the boys would be home any moment, then we received a phone call from one of my sons, saying that the eldest son was being stabbed and beaten up, on waste ground, at the back of our house. We then quickly got dressed and raced over to the waste ground, we met our other son over there, but by the time we got there it was too late, we found our eldest son lying there in a pool of blood.

 

How awful.
 
I raced over to him, I tried to get rid of my other son by making him go to ring for an ambulance, my wife was catching up pretty fast, I made her wait because it wasn’t the best of sights to see.
 
After what seemed like an eternity, the police finally arrived, and at that time the police said, he felt, he thought he could feel the pulse, I couldn’t, I tried, I couldn’t, I’d tried I couldn’t feel a pulse on my son, and about five minutes later the ambulance crew came. We were then taken back round our own home, supported by a couple of police officers who were basically with us. And I suppose about half an hour later they announced he was dead.
 
Just to go back to that original part, what happened was one of the boys [who killed my son], I should have mentioned it I suppose stole a motor bike and went into the car park where my sons were playing. I think they were kicking a ball around or something, and almost run them over, and what happened at that point was my eldest son who got killed, he went up and kicked the bike and said, “What’re you doing, you know, you nearly just run us over?” And at that point, the boy said, “I’m going to get my mate to stab you.” That’s how it all came about. That’s how he got the murder charge actually.
 

Sometimes David wanted to talk about his son with friends, family and work colleagues. At other...

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And over the next sort of days and weeks, what was the family and your reactions then?
 
David' Oh, it was, it was really strange because we had a house full of people, with family who’d come round, some were very good, some were very helpful and kind, and in the same breath you didn’t want them there, you just wanted to be left on your own to sort it out yourself. But when they did eventually fizzle out, you thought, “Well where are they? They’ve all gone now.” When you know, it just didn’t make any sense. Other things were like, if we wanted to buy a pint of milk or a loaf of bread, you you’d go like 15 miles out of the way because you didn’t want to go shopping locally, and things like that, I can’t explain why, you didn’t want people turning round and say, “Oh that’s the one that’s just lost her son.” You know, you didn’t want that, so we’d go all sorts of places just to get the simplest of products.
 
 
How long were you off work for?
 
David' About, about three months I think, but would that be right? [turns to wife]
 
Wife' Mm. About that.
 
David' Yeah, I’m not too sure, about three months. That was very difficult, and I had some good friends at work, but they were too good and like they would wrap me in cotton wool, and I didn’t like that to be honest. You know, “You can sit in the office you don’t need to come out.” And I worked at the airport, and, “You don’t need to go out in the airport, just sit in the office all day,” and I didn’t want that, I wanted to get involved and, but one of the things we used to do was we used to search people’s baggage, and the moment a knife come through on one of the cases, which we showed on the x-ray, everyone would crowd round so that I couldn’t see the knife. And I didn’t like that. And another thing that sticks in my mind was nobody would talk to me about what had happened, and I wanted them to, but the moment somebody did come up and say, “I’m sorry to hear about your son,” I went mad, and I went ballistic at them, “What’s it to do with you, none of your business.” You know I think it was mixed emotions like that, it does, it does take a long time to get over with things like that. And you can’t explain your own reactions. I found it very difficult. 
 

David will never forget what happened to Simon. Since the day he was murdered David and his wife...

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And then how did feelings change over the years, it’s a number of years now but how have feelings changed over that time?
 
Well you feel you’ve heard it a hundred times, but you don’t forget it, you learn to live with it, but you don’t ever forget it, I don’t know how I’d react if I actually saw the boys [the killers] now, I really don’t. I’d like to think I’d be cool and calm and walk away from it, but I wouldn’t guarantee that.
 
 
How do you, how has life changed as a result of this terrible event? How would you sum it up? What it’s done to your lives?
 
Aah. I think, there’s nothing major there, but it’s lot of little things like when we go to bed at night, you know, we bolt and lock and bolt and lock all the doors, things like making sure all the windows are shut, we’re very safety conscious now, and it would never have bothered me before, but if I’m going down the lane or something, I always look down there first and see what I can see. And I always keep looking back to see who’s behind me. So it does make you like that. And when my, there’s a little row of shops up the road there, and when my wife goes up the shops, not that I keep a time on her, but if she’s not back in ten minutes, I just start worrying about her. So it does have an affect like that on you, definitely.
 
Definitely.
 
She’s got no time limits or anything, but if she’s more than ten minutes then I start worrying about her. 
 

David was sure that the offenders would kill again so he wrote to the Parole Board suggesting...

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So did the police give you the opportunity of you making your point of view about whether or not they should have parole or not. Were you allowed to make any comments?
 
Yes we could, yes we could do as much representative work as we wanted to, but I wrote no end of letters to the Parole Board, but at the end of the day they just don’t listen anyway.
 
Oh.
 
No. They don’t…
 
You are given the opportunity to write to the Parole Board?
 
Well you can, you can, which I did, I wrote many, many letters, but it didn’t make no difference, they’ve got, I think on one occasion I think they didn’t grant parole maybe as a result of my letters I did, but the next time he got it so.
 
So what were you mainly saying in your letters?
 
The fact about his previous reputation, even the police turned round to us and said that when he comes out of prison he’ll do it again.
 
Oh.
 
And that was like the basis of, well one of them anyway.
 
You were recommending that they wouldn’t be let out for another few years.
 
That’s right, that’s right. 
 

The liaison officers handled the case very sensitively and kept in touch after the trial. They...

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The Police Liaison Officers were absolutely brilliant, they treated us so well, they looked after us as though we were part of their family, and even after we moved down to Wales, they still used to pop down and see us occasionally, if they’d see us out in the street, they’d stop and have a chat with us. They were very good, they handled the case very sensitively. I’ve got nothing but praise for them.
 
And then they kept you up to date over the years while the young men have been in prison.
 
Yes, yes they did, and they kept in touch with us for many years, in fact it’s only since we moved down here that we’ve actually lost touch with them, but anything that was going on in the prisons they thought we needed to know they would tell us, and they were telling us before probation services were telling us. They handled the case very well, and I’ve no complaints at all with them.
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