This is the Victim Impact Statement read out by Tom’s mother to the Crown Court when the case against Barrington McKenzie was finally heard on 21 December 2007.
I have tried to write this statement many times before now. At first, I wanted to put down thoughts and feelings about Tom. Later, I wanted to write the story of his life. Now, six months after his death, I just want to remember.
I remember the phone call in the middle of the night: “Tom was fatally wounded”, and that moment, my comprehension disappeared, and my response was: “how is he, which hospital is he at?” and then the nightmare began. I crawled on the floor shouting; “No, No, my baby” and ran downstairs where I sat on the floor again, shouting “Tom, Tom”.
From then on, the world around me became unreal, I was detached and looking from outside in, like a single spectator in an empty theatre with actors on the stage.
Now memories flood in…
I remember his birth, 25th of September 1983, feet first, kicking hard out into the world. I remember laying him on the floor when four months old, encouraging him to crawl. I remember sleepless nights and early mornings, watching TV or a cartoon, while he was happily playing on the carpet. I remember his first schoolteacher telling me: “ Tom can get far but, my God, he will need pushing!” I remember his first guitar at seven, and his joy when he could play his first tune. And the hours he spent listening to John Mayall, and John Lee Hooker, learning about blues. I remember his first love, at thirteen, when his hands were stroking his girlfriend’s long hair, while his gaze never left her face.
Whenever I remember, I want to look at a picture to fix that moment in my mind. I want to open the albums but I can’t because this is where the pain starts. A pain that cannot be compared, or related to a friend, or talked about. I tried to describe it once, about two months after his death. Then, I felt as if in one fraction of a second, a huge chunk of my body was hollowed out, as if my womb left me and I had a big gaping, empty hole inside. I felt that my emptiness could never be filled except by pain.
The pain when I think that my boy, the only child I had, would never smile again.
The pain when I hear a song, someone playing a guitar, which he will never hear.
The pain when I spoke to his girlfriend, Daisy, and she told me that Tom wanted three children.
The pain when I think I would never be a grandmother.
But, even this pain shifted and from it’s numbing my body and my thoughts, it changed into despair and worse.
Every morning, as I stare out the window and I see the trees in the sunshine or rain, birds leaving or coming back to nest, tears are streaming and I feel as if a heavy weight bears down on me. It requires a huge effort to shift my thoughts into some kind of gear to start the day, another empty day without Tom. Another attempt to carry on with life in a “normal” fashion, in this callous world, which demands from us to survive.
I never admitted to myself until now that Tom represented all the support I hoped for in my twilight years. He has gone and with him, my hopes. My life will never have the peace and security that any mother thrives for. Work and other things which normally filled my life before have now lost their meaning, and all I see ahead is a continuous struggle to keep above the surface.
Now, finally, despair and pain have turned into anger.
This family has had three losses in the last nine years, two of them were stabbings. Two children have no father, my stepdaughter, Claire lost her boyfriend and her brother, and now we all have lost Tom. Life has become cheap! And my anger is about the loss of innocent lives and the futility of present efforts to stop this wave of killings.
When my son was killed, I was not the only one to suffer. The list is long and painful : a girlfriend, three half sisters and one half brother, a father, grandparents and six uncles, twenty-five cousins, and a staggering amount of friends. They have all been touched. They are all suffering. They have all been marked forever. I am also affected by their pain and I am angry that I can’t make it better.
When a mother gives birth, she has no time to feel the empty womb, because a new life fills that emptiness.
When a mother loses a child, a new emptiness appears which can never be filled again.
I feel for all the mothers whose lives will never be the same again, whose pain I know will never disappear.
I would like to think that maybe, one day, our suffering and anger will give birth to an Almighty force, which can rise above this wave of violence.
We must fight against knives and guns together, we are the mothers in pain and we can talk to the mothers who are afraid of losing their sons!
We must teach our sons not to fear and refuse to be silent and acquiesce the knife culture, the gun culture and the gang culture.
If we don’t, more children will die.
I want to end this statement by thanking the Police service, and especially Sid Shenoy and his team for their sensitive and consistent support which continues to this day.
Sid provided this support not just to me, but to every member of Tom’s large family and as I write this statement, and cry after every paragraph, he is still here with me.