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Colchester: Campaigners call for town knife amnesty

Jay Whiston and mum Caroline Shearer

Jay Whiston and mum Caroline Shearer

Archant

Two anti-knife campaigners have called for an amnesty in Colchester.

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Ann Oakes-Odger, founder of knifecrimes.org, and Caroline Shearer, founder of Only Cowards Carry, have backed the measure.

The calls come after another stabbing in the town yesterday, less than two weeks after Essex University student Nahid Almanea, 31, was knifed to death in the Greenstead estate and three months after James Attfield was stabbed 102 times and left to die close to Lower Castle Park in the town centre.

A 27-year-old man was taken to Addenbrooke’s Hospital, where he remains in a serious but stable and not life-threatening condition, after he received a stab wound outside the Liquid nightclub in the High Street at around 3.30am yesterday.

Police arrested four people following the incident, which is not linked to the murders of Ms Almanea and Mr Attfield.

A man, 21, arrested on suspicion of GBH with intent, a 19 year-old man arrested on suspicion of affray, a male, 23, arrested on suspicion of common assault and a woman, 37, arrested on suspicion of assaulting a police officer, remained in custody last night.

Mrs Oakes-Odger, whose son Westley was stabbed to death in Greenstead in 2005, said: “An amnesty would help to continue to raise awareness of the serious issue of knife crime, and I would welcome one in Colchester.

“My message is to be vigilant and check with young people in case they think of carrying a knife for defence. If they are in a group and even just one person has a knife, if they are unfortunate enough to be involved in an altercation every member of that group can be charged with murder.

“Even when fear levels are raised it is unacceptable to pick up a knife.”

She added the murder of Ms Almanea had affected her particularly badly as the student’s last movements were captured on “probably the same CCTV camera which caught my son’s incident”.

Mrs Shearer, whose son Jay Whiston was fatally stabbed at a house party in Colchester in 2012, said: “People are hiding away from the truth saying we do not have a problem.

“All of us mothers and fathers are looking at this and we have all got to make a stand.

“Only Cowards Carry have emailed police across the country calling for a regular, national amnesty, not just in Colchester.”

A knife amnesty was launched in Clacton a month ago, and so far almost 150 weapons have been handed into the town’s police station.

An Essex Police spokesman said: “There are currently no plans to hold a knife amnesty in Colchester.

“However it is something which may be considered in the future.”

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