In 1998 my lovely sister Joyce was battered by her partner. Joyce lay dying in hospital for 3 days, and later died from multiple injuries. As I sat beside her bedside in the intensive care unit, I willed my sister to live. Joyce had never harmed anyone in her life. She was a perfect mother to her two children and adored her grandchildren. I wanted answers, but even though the police knew her killer, there wasn't enough evidence to charge him. We were left devastated and angry. Joyce was a hard working woman, who lived for her family.
Tragedy then hit me again even harder when my son Stephen’s life was taken by a female friend. Our world was rocked to the core. We were such a close family and now we were left lost, devastated and broken. My son's killer was given 3½ years for manslaughter. I then realised that I had to fight for justice, I felt I had to do something. That I did, by writing to the government -to no avail. My 4 remaining children were struggling to cope. I saw a look in their eyes that I had never seen before, pools of tears waiting to flow. Stephen was the rock in our family. He loved his music, his computer and most importantly his daughter Niomi. Stephen was a loving, caring father, he adored Niomi. Our lives will never be the same without him.
Then in 2004 my lovely daughter Chantel went missing. I searched for her frantically with my best friend Marie, and the community of Birkenhead. We put up thousands of posters and I gave interviews on national TV and papers appealing for her whereabouts. Then after 18 months a fire was set off at a mosque in retaliation to the 7/7 bombings. DNA was found which led the police to the home of Stephen Alan Wynne who threw the petrol bomb into the mosque. It then unfolded he had murdered and mutilated my daughter Chantel whilst reliving a horror story in his sick mind. He took Chantel back to his house and performed his evil acts. He was given 21 years as a tariff and then appealed to the courts where he had it lowered to 18; this is an insult and an unjust to my lovely daughter Chantel. When Wynne took the life of my daughter, the light well and truly went out in our lives, she was the light in our household, and god how I loved her.
It was here that I had become another person. The fire in me was a fire that led me to fight for changes in the way the law deals with those who take lives. The destruction these people leave within a family is immense; they don’t just take one life but many. We must make the law give out sentences that fit the crime, life must mean life. More must be done for us victims and their families.
Andrew was attacked in 2003 in Liverpool City Centre, and died the following day from serious head injuries. Only one of the gang involved in the attack went to court, but walked free through lack of evidence. In December 2008, his family finally got an inquest verdict of 'unlawful killing'. Ever since Andrew's death we have realised that the penalty for death in this country is a complete insult. Since we became part of Families Fighting for Justice we now realise that there are others in the same position as us; people who are willing to fight our corner. By being a part of FFFJ we can now be a source of support for other families too. We will make sure Andrew and the children of the other members of our group did not die in vain.
We received a phone call to tell us that our Daughters home had been set on fire and that our 21 year old Grandson Ryan had been killed in the fire. Ryan was asleep in bed at the time and died of carbonmonoxide poisoning. A gang of local thieves broke into the house in the early hours, stole a couple of TV sets and small items and then set alight to the house. Only one member of the gang was ever sentenced, Liam O'Brien. Liam received just 4 1/2 years for his crime and will be out of jail at the age of 23 - our Ryan didn't even reach 22. They didnt just kill Ryan that day, they killed his Mum and Dad, his brother Lee and two families and lots of friends; Ryan was loved by everyone. Life will never be the same again.
In April 2007 Simon's body was found by bin men in an alleyway near to his home. Simon had been brutally attacked and received over 72 injuries. Simon's attacker, Daniel Breaks was his girlfriend's brother and had been tormenting Simon for over 3 years. After the attack Simon's body was callously taken out into the alley by his girlfriend and her family. After months of waiting the case went to court and Breaks was sentenced. We feel Breaks' family was more involved in the killing of Simon and we have now been left carrying the pain of having to see these people in the street. My world was turned upside down by Simons murder but being part of FFFJ provides me with a sense of comfort knowing that I can help others through their pain.
On 6th November 2007, a Police Officer went to my mum’s work to break the news that a body found on a bonfire was that of my brother Stephen; our whole world fell apart that day. Unbelievably Jamie Smith, a 13 year old was arrested, charged with his murder and sentenced to ‘life’ with a minimum of 13 years to be served in a young offenders institute, then prison. Smith could be 26 when he gets out; Stephen’s life was taken aged 34. It would be easy to let grief take over and self-destruct, but we won’t let the scumbag destroy us too. We’re adamant something positive will come out of all this; that Stephen’s life and horrific death has made a difference. We will never show forgiveness, and we will fight to keep Smith locked up.
Karl was ruthlessly murdered by his own father Paul in 2006. Karl went to visit his father after hearing about abusive phone calls he had made to his sister and I. Once there Karl was stabbed repeatedly with a kitchen knife in the back and stomach. At the murder trial Paul didn’t show an ounce of remorse, and stood proudly in the box – he even pleaded not guilty to murder. Paul was sentenced to a minimum of 12 years in prison; this is why we joined Families Fighting for Justice. We want Paul to serve a full life sentence for the life he took not only from Karl but from our family. If it wasn't for Jean and the whole of FFFJ we don't know how we'd have gotten this far. We don't want anyone else to have to go through suffering like this.
Kevin Lavelle died aged 29 whilst working away from home to raise money for his upcoming wedding. Kevin had a close family and was a loving father to 2 little children. He was kicked, brutally beaten and struck with his own dumbbell by a gang of men from Wales. Kevin suffered massive head injuries and died shortly after an ambulance took him to hospital. Nine men were arrested for Kevin's murder but only Ceri Noble, Leslie Gibbs and Merrion Jones stood trial. Thanks to a legal loophole, they ALL escaped prison. DNA from all of them was on the dumbbell used to cruelly murder Kevin, so the judge could not tell which one had struck the killing blow. Where is the justice in that? The day he was violently taken from us will always be the worst day of our lives.
Paul died aged 33 in August 2007. On the day he died Paul had an appointment with a solicitor regarding gaining access to a child his ex-girlfriend Kerry claimed was his. During that day a supposed friend of Paul’s, Peter Armstrong phoned Kerry and she came over. They spent the day drinking, taking drugs and sending malicious messages to Paul. Paul went round to calm the situation and Peter came out and stabbed him with a kitchen knife. This was a totally unprovoked attack and we can only surmise Peter killed my son down to jealously. In court Peter received a life sentence with a minimum of 13 years; and that’s supposed to be justice! One day Peter will return home and my Paul won't. That’s hard to come to terms with. I came to visit FFFJ and they have helped me such a lot.
...it's impossible to list them all here. Thats why we have created our memories book where you can read many more stories and even add your own.