Three women who have lost their sons to knife crime in south London have joined a campaign to encourage people to call Crimestoppers.
Becky Beston, Jean Foster and Pastor Lorraine Jones have told their heartbreaking stories about the hardest call they have had to make following their sons’ deaths in a series of short films.
The campaign hopes to encourage others to call Crimestoppers, anonymously, with information about knife crime.
Mrs Beston’s son Archie, 19, was stabbed while on a night out in Kingston on February 29, 2020.
He died six days later in hospital.
Mrs Beston said: “I had to call a complete stranger about getting Archie embalmed. You should never have to use those words with your son’s name. Ever.”
Archie was out with friends when a van was driven at a 19-year-old man outside John Lewis on Clarence Road.
In the aftermath, Archie was knifed in the heart by Tyrone Bryan, 20.
Mrs Beston said: “He was going out for his friend’s birthday. He’s never been in trouble, never been known to the police, never even had a parking ticket. He was in the right place on the path walking back to his car sober.
“It wasn’t my Archie who was in the wrong place at the wrong time, it was the pathetic coward who murdered him. They came into Archie’s world not the other way around.”
Bryan was sentenced to 19 years in prison for manslaughter and the driver of the van, Finlay Ahwan, was sentenced to seven years for attempted GBH and dangerous driving.
Both had previous convictions for offences including possession of a knife.
Mrs Beston is urging anyone with information about knife crime to call Crimestoppers, saying: “If somebody would have made that phone call, my Arch would be here now.”
Jean Foster, the mother of Christopher Foster, who was stabbed in the back outside a pub in Borough in 2014, has also joined the campaign.
Speaking about her hardest call, Mrs Foster said: “They told me Christopher has been murdered. We called him nine or ten times. Slowly, we came to the realisation that he was never going to call back.
“People may think that keeping quiet keeps you out of their focus, but it empowers them. No one is safe if we keep quiet.”
Christopher was drinking outside St Christopher’s Inn on Borough High Street when he was stabbed in the back.
The gang responsible had mistaken him for someone else.
He staggered inside the pub and collapsed, and died later in hospital.
Chrsistopher was a single dad to then four-year-old Christina, who now lives with Mrs Foster.
Mrs Foster said: “I had to tell her that Daddy wasn’t coming home. When I told his daughter, her screams were horrendous. They haunt me to this day.
“It took months before she realised that her Daddy’s never going to call again. Every time the phone rang she would dive for it, “Daddy is that you?” That went on for months.
“I had to say “Babe, it’s never going to be Dad.””
Pastor Lorraine Jones’ son Dwayne Simpson was knifed in the heart in 2014 after he intervened when he saw a friend being chased along Brixton Road.
Mrs Jones had just arrived home when the doorbell rang and one of Dwayne’s friends told her he had been stabbed.
She said: “I just started running but I couldn’t run fast enough. I was helpless and weak. My feet were like lead and I was shaking. When I got there I said, “I’m his Mom” and I pushed through.
“What I saw was horrific. His clothes were ripped, and Dwayne was lying in his own blood. Just so much blood. That’s my child and there’s nothing I could do to help him.”
Rio Julienne-Clarke was sentenced to 12 years for manslaughter of Dwayne in January 2020.
Mrs Jones said her hardest call was to tell her mother what had happened.
She said: “I was out of breath and my stomach was tight. Even when I was making a call my hands were shaking. I tried it three times, I was just so helpless and weak.
“I never felt so helpless before in my life and Dwayne was just there. I said, “Mom, Dwayne’s been stabbed.” And she screamed.”
Crimestoppers and the Metropolitan Police are urging people who have any information about knife crime to contact them.
No information is too insignificant or too small and all calls to Crimestoppers are completely confidential.
The campaign acknowledges that these calls may be hard, but other calls, such as the ones made by the mothers in the campaign, are harder.
These films will be shown across radio, popular websites, social media and on-demand viewing.
They will be targeted at people in areas most affected by violent crime and are particularly aimed at inspiring women who may have a close relationship to someone on the periphery of knife crime to report vital information.
Commissioner Cressida Dick said: “This campaign would not have been possible without the strength and courage of these mothers, who have relived the traumatic calls they had to make in the hope that it will prevent other families suffering, as they have.
“I have no doubt that these tragic accounts will resonate with Londoners, and will hopefully encourage them to pick up the phone and call Crimestoppers, anonymously, with any information they might have.
“We understand this is a difficult thing to ask – but you don’t have to name names and even a small piece of information could be vital. Making that one call could literally save the life of someone’s son or daughter.”
Mick Duthie, Director of Operations at Crimestoppers, said: “Hearing the mums speak in such an honest, frank and heartfelt way about losing a son to knife crime is incredibly humbling. I truly admire their courage and determination to warn others in their own words about the danger of not speaking up.
“Every day our charity hears from people who often feel they have nowhere else to turn. I’d like to add to the Commissioner’s assurance that everyone who contacts Crimestoppers is guaranteed to stay completely anonymous. We’ve always kept our promise since we began back in the 1980s. By working together, we can help make our communities safer and reduce the harm, pain and suffering caused by knife crime.”
Pictured top: Pastor Lorraine Jones
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