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Linda - Interview 15

Age at interview: 52
Brief Outline: In 2007 Linda's son, Kevin, was murdered. He was 27 years old. He was stabbed and died 5 hours later. It was a terrific shock to all the family. Linda misses Kevin tremendously but her spiritual beliefs have helped her cope with her grief.
Background: Linda works to prevent misuse of drugs. She is married and has 4 children (1 died). Ethnic background/nationality: White British.

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In 2007 Linda’s son, Kevin, was murdered. He was 27 years old. He was stabbed by his sister’s ex-boyfriend because he told the ex-boyfriend to leave his sister alone. Kevin was taken to hospital but died five hours later, because the knife had punctured his heart. Kevin’s death was a tremendous shock.
 
Members of the family and Kevin’s girl friend were allowed to see him in the hospital mortuary. At that stage Kevin was treated as “police property” and there were two autopsies. Linda found this very difficult; the fact that the police were in control of her son’s body.
 
There was an inquest that was opened and closed. The verdict was “death with a single stab wound to the heart”. The family could then go ahead with the funeral. It was a humanist funeral, which was held at the crematorium. Some of Kevin’s ashes were scattered on local Downs. The family put a bench in one of the local parks in memory of Kevin. Linda also asked an artist to spray paint her hallway with aspects of Kevin’s life and a picture of his face. She has also planted a rose bush in his memory.
 
Linda still misses Kevin very much. Her spiritual beliefs have helped her and she takes solace in meditation. She believes that she will meet Kevin again one day and that he is in a “better place”. Other members of the family have had some bereavement counselling. Linda decided she did not need counselling, mainly because of her belief system.
 
At first Linda felt guilty if she did not think about her son all the time, but now she realises that she cannot always think of him. If she thought about Kevin constantly she would not get through the day. Linda also says that it is important to remember the good times they all had with Kevin.
 
The trial was a year after Kevin died, in September 2008. Linda found the court case “horrific”. There were two people on trial, one for murder and one for accessory to murder. Their families sat close to Linda and her family in the public gallery, which was awful. The case went on for two and a half weeks. The jury decided that the killer, who had taken steroids and cannabis, had committed murder. It was a unanimous decision. The other man was acquitted. The judge read the impact statements made by Linda and by Kevin’s girl friend and sentenced the murderer to sixteen and a half years in jail.
 
Linda believes that it is important to have a focus for the next year. She has chosen to climb Kilimanjaro to collect money for the hospital where Kevin died. She finds that training for the climb has helped her cope.
 
Linda has forgiven her son’s murderer. She says that she can not live the rest of her life hating him. However, she says that the rest of the family cannot forgive him.
 
Linda was interviewed in 2008.
 
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Linda’s son, Kevin, was stabbed to death by his sister’s ex-boyfriend. Linda heard what had had...

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Yes it was September 2007, my eldest son, who was 27 was at his workplace, there’d been a disagreement with my youngest daughter and her boyfriend that she hadn’t been with for a couple of weeks. She wanted some stuff out of his house. He was being very rude and wasn’t going to let her have it so she did what I think most young sisters do, she called on her brother for help, with absolutely disastrous effects because basically the ex-boyfriend went to my son’s place of work all ready with a knife in his pocket that was ready to use. In my eyes he had full intention to do what he did and he went there and that’s exactly what he did. And a small disagreement ensued. My son was trying to tell him to just leave my daughter alone and give her a break. You know, if it was the constant texting and phone calls that were going on that he’d get her a new sim card...
 
…and then that would be the end of it.  But the person just lunged at him basically, stabbed him straight through the heart.
 
How awful.
 
He didn’t realise himself that he’d been stabbed at first. He was running round at work but within minutes he’d collapsed.
 
And an ambulance was called and he taken to our local general hospital. He put up a terrific fight. They resuscitated him ten times, but he was a very fit person.
 
But not meant to be. And he died five hours later.
 
I’m so sorry.
 
So…
 
How did you first hear about it?
 
I’d heard first thing in the morning. Funnily enough, when my daughter had come in and she’d, she’d run to me on a Saturday and said, “Mum, you know, my ex is on his way to Kevin’s workplace”. I then rang him and he said he was fine and not to worry and nothing was going to happen and that if he did turn up he would talk him out of it…
 
…and, you know, try and soothe things out and  that’s where it went from there. So I rang him. He said everything was okay. I think I’ve just repeated that, haven’t I? And put the phone down. And then literally two minutes later the mobile rang again and Kevin’s name come up and I thought everything was fine and it was his workmate and he’d said that Kevin had in those minutes just been stabbed.
 
And I rushed down there with my daughter, it took us about, because it was a Saturday morning, it took us a good 15, 20 minutes to get down there. The ambulances were there. Kevin was already in the ambulance. They wouldn’t let us in. They didn’t give us any information. All we could do was follow the ambulance to the hospital, which we did. I super-glued my bumper to their bumper …
 
…so that I didn’t miss them through any lights or roundabouts and made our way to the hospital where we had to wait in the family room  while we were given, you know, various progress points that started off, not very good odds. And the odds didn’t change. And went worse and worse and worse until eventually he couldn’t be saved and he died.
 
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The family have dedicated their hallway to Kevin. They found a graffiti artist who painted a six...

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We’ve got a bench for Kevin. We, what we did is we felt that because we cremated him and because we scattered his ashes I didn’t want the Downs where we went to be a mourning place. I wanted a place that we’ve always been to and we always will do and when we went back there we were going for walks and obviously we’d probably particularly think of Kevin then. But we needed something more solid and because I’d chosen not to have him buried and I didn’t want, I didn’t want a place that I felt that I could never move.
 
So if we had him buried where we live I felt I would never be able to leave this. But I look at this place now, that it is a place where I’ve lost my son and that, that in time we’ll more than likely move away from here… And felt that I wouldn’t be able to do that if he was buried here. And I would have had tremendous guilt on up keeping his grave and that if ever over the years I let it go…
 
…but that would be on my behalf something that I’d failed and that I didn’t care for him any more. So we had a bench put in one of our local parks…
 
It’s a really good idea.
 
…and we had a name thing put on it. But not, not with a date that he died, or anything like that, just his name and ‘In loving memory’, ad for us to sit on and anybody else that chooses to sit on as they go by. And it’s in a lovely part and it’s overlooking a lake and it’s right up high so you overlook everything and…
 
And could you move that if you wanted to?
 
No, that’s there. That’s, that’s, that’s part of the park’s Trust now. But of course if I moved I’d just, if I felt the need to do it, I would do a bench in, in a new area.
 
But my hallway, we’ve dedicated to Kev. So because he was young we managed to get some professional graffiti artists in and we, they basically spray-painted my hallway with all aspects of Kevin’s life and, and plus a, a sort of six foot wall of his face and we come to that every day. But I have another daughter who hasn’t been able to live here since he’s died because that’s all too much for her. And my youngest daughter lives away from home now. So I just have my son here. 
 
And that’s kind of our way of, of dealing with it. And the other thing that I did that might work for some people and might not is because I believe this birth and death is constant and you’re, you’re constantly, you know, rebirthing and dying I went and bought a couple of really beautiful rose bushes.
 
But I went for their smell. I didn’t care what the title was, what, what they were named but it was really important that I had the smell. And I bought two, and I bought two beautiful pots. And they’re on my patio so that wherever I go now…
 
That’s a lovely idea.
 
I take my flowers and I watch them die and rebirth and die but it’s the same plant and that shows me that the actual essence is still there. It dies and re-grows and dies and re-grows and, and I’ve actually taken this time, because it’s, it’s the first rose if you like that’s come to the end of its cycle, a year after. And I’ve pressed the last one…
 
I’ve pressed. And, and I just think that that’s great because in the summer you sit out there and you have the smell, and that reminds me of Kev. 
 
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Linda invited a newspaper and a magazine to write about her son, Kevin, and about his death; she...

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One thing we haven’t discussed at all is the press. Did the newspapers …?
 
Well we went the other way round it, because I was collecting for, for this trust fund for Kevin, and it was important for me to contact the press so I did it the other way around and I invited one particular newspaper, local newspaper to do the story which of course they leapt at. But the agreement was is they had to put the piece up about our campaign, “Climbing for Positive Change”. So I did that. And I also did it with a magazine as well.
 
Although it was more focused on my daughter and the tragedy between the, the, the, the brother and the sister link. But any donations that come from that will go to his charity.
 
Did you get a chance to write what you wanted?
 
Yes. Yes we, we were  I mean some of it was glamorised a little bit. There were, there were a couple of things, especially in the magazine that you know was there for full effect; that I didn’t say or didn’t do. But you kind of know that they sensationalise things. And it was a way that viewers will, you know, send cheques to the hospital for a good cause.
 
I mean, that’s the reason that I did it. But I suppose any other way I’m not quite sure, I suppose that’s what your family liaison officer’s for.
 
Would be to shield you and when you come out of court you can go the back way if you’ve got press out the front. And you, you do get, you, you get inundated; you get letters coming to you.  
 
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Linda wrote a VPS about the way Kevin's murder had affected her family. The judge suggested that...

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Did you have to make a Statement, how it had affected you? An Impact Statement?
 
We did an Impact Statement. And it’s…
 
Can you explain to people how that happens and what you have to do?
 
The Impact Statement, certainly for myself as his mother and, and obviously the family came right at the beginning. The police wanted to get that right at the beginning. An Impact Statement for the family goes back to Kevin’s whole life. So they, they’ll go right back. In fact before Kevin, they go right back to my life. And my marriage and my children and, you know, my life with my children and, and the devastating effect that it has when you lose a child and the effect it has on the rest of your family, which the judge gets to read. These can be read out in court. And then his girlfriend was asked to do one. But she did one nearer the trial rather than when he’d just died. And the judge actually said in his summing up, and his, not in his summing up but in his sentencing that he had read her statement and he was so moved by it that he’d actually realised that this was the true Kevin and not the Kevin that had been portrayed by the defence in court. And it was on that that he [the murderer] was given 16 ½ years. Now the minimum for murder is 15. So although 15 years is the minimum there are exceptions and a judge can go below that [length of time]. The fact that he will give you 15 and over shows the seriousness of it. If it’s a murder as in my son’s case and the circumstances surrounding it, that’s a minimum of 15 years. If it’s a multiple murder involving children, involving torture, involving rape before death where the person really suffers, the tariff will go up.  
 
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Linda found help through Brahma Kumaris and through meditation. She believes that her son has ...

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Are you a spiritual person yourself?
 
Very much so. And I have to say if I wasn’t I don’t think I’d be sitting here now doing the interview, is the honest truth. Because I think the shock is so great. You have to have, you have to have something there I think to, to pull you through, you know. Otherwise I just think you just feel that you can’t do this.
 
You know, without a child. So, yes, certainly, my belief system has, has got me through. And will carry on.
 
Do you mind saying a bit more about that because I think that’s really important?
 
Well, I very much, I have this belief of the birth and death process and it’s something that we all go through and, and, you know, if you look at it logically one can’t be without the other. And, you know, we’re constantly dying all the time anyway. Our cells are regenerating. If you look at us in children and teenage and early years that’s not what we look like now. So, you, you have your death of your childhood if you like in your teenage years and you carry on evolving. But I believe in karma as well and I believe in previous lives.
 
And what is meant to be and, and looking back now on what Kevin did the two weeks before he died, you could almost say that his, his soul knew he was going, although Kevin didn’t. And there were certain things that he did. He visited my family, and other things that he did and you just thought, no, some, some part of his psyche knew he was going and he was saying his goodbyes.
 
And looking back on that now that makes such perfect sense. And that you don’t’ just die. I know where he’s gone. I know that this is our learning experience here and, and that you go home. It’s the shock you have to deal with basically. And the missing of him, I think, which now even 15 months down the line hasn’t been dealt with. Because, and, and might never. You might never, ever move on from missing a child.
 
Do you believe you’ll be with him again?
 
Oh he’s around us all the time. I don’t even believe that I have to wait through this lifetime. Because I think if I had to live another 50 years of this life thinking I might see him again I think you have to have the belief that he’s here.
 
That, you know, he’s, he’s passed on but he’s not dead. You know, he visits me in dream states. He tells me it was his time to go. And I do accept it was his time to go, because it’s too freaky. Other people are stabbed and they make it.
 
But it was, and, and it was his lifespan of 27 years on this, this plane, and, you know, it’s how we all have to deal with it afterwards….
 
…that’s helped me through, really. And will help carry through knowing that he is around. And I do sense him a lot of the time. And I, you know, you think, “Oh what would Kevin do in this situation?” And, and that, I, I draw great strength from that, yeah.
 
Do you belong to a church?
 
I don’t believe that any religion, no.
 
It’s just a spirit, a spiritual belief?
 
Just a spiritual…
 
I think growing up I had to go to various things. I, you know, I did my bit going through a spiritual church to start me off and, and then through a wonderful organisation called Brahma Kumaris, which I think are, are very, very good. And through reading and inner development and working on myself and, and my beliefs have, have got me to where I am now, to the extent that I can help other people now.
 
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Linda was allowed to see Kevin after a post-mortem, and was upset that she wasn’t allowed to...

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Did they take you into the ward, then, just to be with him?
 
No, no. We didn’t see him again then. From then he became police property which was even harder to take on. We weren’t allowed to see him. We weren’t allowed to go anywhere near him until they’d done an autopsy on him.
 
Couldn’t you even just be with him a little bit?
 
No. And even then all we were allowed to see him a full 24 hours later after the autopsy, we weren’t allowed to touch him. And so we had two police officers with us in the room when we went to see him at the hospital. So there was no privacy, you had strangers with you.
 
Everybody was very kind.  I just think the hardest bit to deal with was that he, he wasn’t allowed to be my son any more. That, that was, I think if it had been a road traffic accident you wouldn’t have had the police… although I suppose to a certain extent you might of because if it was somebody’s fault…it, it might have been the same way, I’m not sure.  But it was pretty horrific.
 
Really, trying to…
 
Not being able to hug him and, hm…
 
Not, being told at first we couldn’t touch him. And in the end they said that we could kiss him but we weren’t allowed to pick him up. But my youngest daughter did actually manage to do that and by lifting his head and shoulders up of course… she saw the, the stitches and, and sort of became quite hysterical after that. But it was, it was very difficult because it was so final.
 
You know, to having been told he died to actually seeing him and seeing it for yourself was, was very, very difficult.
 
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Linda believes that by scattering his ashes Kevin could 'go over to the light'. She has given...

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We chose a cremation rather than a burial because that was personal choice to me. Again with my beliefs...
 
…Kevin wasn’t in that body any more, that was, that was just his vehicle that he used for this particular life and I just thought it was, would be harder to move on if we had a burial site. But again that’s personal choice. Some people need that. Some people need a place to be able to go and talk and grieve and put flowers. But I’ve also known from other people that that can be heartbreaking because people are forever stealing off the graves.
 
So you had a choice of either having him cremated there…
 
Or buried.
 
…or buried at the, could you have had him buried at the crematorium?
 
I don’t know because we didn’t go…
 
No.
 
burial was never an option for me...
 
So as his mother I went for the cremation because I knew that I’d be able to scatter his ashes.
 
Where did you scatter them in the end?
 
[The] Downs. Because it’s somewhere that we’ve always gone as children and I’ve always taken them as children and I’ve found it a beautiful place to go for walks and, and I felt that that was, at the time, where I needed to go and looking down a year later I don’t think I would have taken him anywhere else. It’s a place that’s about 40, 30, 40 minutes in the car away. It’s a nice place to go. And I just felt by releasing his ashes there, that, you know, he could fly.
 
You know. And that it made his soul soar. Because I also believe that they hang around after death and round the funeral. I think they try and hold around and, and try and make contact with you. And I think if you can let them go in a service and with the ashes they can go over.
 
And they, they don’t feel that they have to be around…
 
No.
 
... you know, for us and I think it’s important that they do go over to the light.
 
And that they complete that transition of birth and death. Although I don’t actually believe it’s death as such. And most definitely we meet again. But also I, I have this belief that we all belong to the same soul cluster group. So whereas we incarnated this time as mother and son in future lives and in past lives we’ve been connected in other ways. And that you change from male to female as well.
 
And, and that this, this relationship has gone on for thousands of years.
 
But you forget. Because that’s what happens when you incarnate, you know, it’s wiped from your memory and it’s up to you to be of that place to remember.
 
I can see why that’s comforting.
 
Yes. And it’s what keeps me going really.
 

And then do they give you the ashes wheneveryou want them?

 
Yes. Yeah, then that was up to us. And just to be aware that, you know, that can be a shock in itself because they’re quite heavy. They come in a box, a very crude box with his details written on the side so that you know you’ve got his ashes. You can purchase [boxes] if you wanted them for extra costs to place, you know, to, to put the ashes in or, as, as we did, we went to John Lewis.
 
Just to find something that they could be put in. And that’s what his girlfriend chose to do and she still has his ashes at this moment. But I couldn’t hold onto them, I couldn’t have them in the house.
 
So…
 
So I scattered them…
 
…some are scattered and some are…
 
Some are kept. Yeah. But they were divided. That was the most bizarre thing because I had to open up the box of the ashes and I had to divide them for my, for my children. They, they didn’t want him to be scattered. So I had to respect their wishes so they said they wanted them in little boxes but, that could be tied up
 
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The trial took place a year after Kevin's death and lasted for over two weeks. Linda said it was...

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There’s no soul, there’s no emotion, there’s no love, there’s no nothing that comes out of Crown Courts. And the judges as well. The judges are there to do a job, they’re not there to get emotionally involved, if they were they’d be taking sides.
 
So they’re, they’re quite distant if you like and they’re there just to hear the facts. And I think you have to take that on board that, that the trial is not a happy time at all.
 
No.
 
It’s not a happy place to be. It’s not a happy environment. And you’re in limbo really when it, when it comes to a death where there’s going to be a trial. You’re in limbo for that year because you can’t move on.
 
Do you mid saying a bit about the court case now?
 
Yes, the court case was horrific from start to finish. It’s a day thing that you have to do. His trial went on for two and a half weeks. A court is a horrible place to have to go. It’s cold. You have lots of other people there in, in different courtrooms for different reasons. The whole, the whole thing is just negative. There’s not one positive that come out of it. When you’re there, we had a family room so we were very lucky with our family liaison officer and a police officer, that we had a room where we could go to... away from his family. Because they, there was actually two up on trial, one was for murder and there was another person who was up for accessory for murder. So, at the beginning there were two people.
 
Connected with your son?
 
Connected with my son. And in, in the trial one was found not guilty to all charges and walked. But obviously his family were there at the time and, and then the person that killed my son, his family were there. And because he [the defendant] had lied so much about the course of events that led to my son’s death they had obviously, because it was their son, just got totally embroiled in what he’d said and totally believed him, even when he was found guilty and the judge said that, you know, he’d planned this all along, he knew exactly what he was doing. Even now they’re still very much that, you know, it was an accident and my son came towards him and it was because my son came towards him in a threatening manner that he felt out of fear he had to stab him.
 
So we had to have the whole thing, where we were in the public gallery with them. And the public galleries are small. And you just have a walkway between two families.
 
How awful.
 
And you have the intimidation, the stares, and everything that goes on with a trial really. And you have to be so strong not to, and you have to be so strong, or we had to for Kevin because we knew that it was vital that the jury heard the truth and the facts.
 
And then of course you have to listen to the defence, just knocking your son down. And trying to discredit him and make him out to be a liar and somebody that he’s not.
 
How awful.
 
To say somebody who’s lying and you have to sit through two and a half weeks knowing that that person’s lying through his teeth.
 
How terrible.
 
And at one stage because we were sitting where the witness stand is I was feet, feet from him.
 
I mean, what was the verdict in the end?
 
The verdict was, was unanimous and it was very, very quick. And considering that they had to do it on two people, for accessory to murder and murder, it was very, very quick and I suppose if you divided that in half it must have taken them two hours, a minimum, just two hours to convict. Because like I say, all along they’d made their minds up.
 
And it was guilty.
 
Of murder?
 
Of murder. But the other one was not guilty. He was up on three charges: affray, accessory to murder, and the third one, he walked free. But, to be fair, he turned it round to be on our side.
 
So were you satisfied with the verdict?
 
I was satisfied, yeah.
 
Yes.
 
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Linda said that there is no template on death; people have to find their own way forward, whether...

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I’d just like to say that there is no template on, on death, on sudden death, on death of a child, that you’ve just got to find your own way forward and if I’ve helped in any way with an alternative way of getting through then, then it’s worth doing this interview.
 
And I just think you have to find your own place. If you’re religious you have to go to your church. If you’ve got close family and friends support network you go to them. If you’ve got a higher belief like I have you go more into them.
 
And you just heal your own way, in whatever way that you feel that you can. But nothing’s easy and you do feel, I wouldn’t say that I feel like a limb has been wrenched from me, but I feel like a quarter of my body is missing. It’s almost like when you have an amputation and you can still feel the leg. I still feel that I will forever put Kevin’s name in cards. I can’t ever see myself just putting my husband, myself and three children. In fact I’ve done it since he’s died and we just put stars. Round his name.
 
And, and I think I’ll always do that and he’ll always be included. And I think you just have to do this. Some people want counselling, some people will find self-helps groups, the Internet, books and I think you just have to find your own way. And I suppose the good thing about what you’re doing here is you’re giving people the choice, you’re giving them options, maybe things they haven’t thought about, you know, as ways to deal with it.
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