'Get tougher on knife crime'

THE mother of an Essex man who was stabbed to death at a cashpoint is to campaign for tougher sentences for knife crimes after criticising current laws.

By James Hore

A MOTHER calling for tougher sentencing after her son was stabbed to death has said that everyday she feels shock he will never walk through the front door again.

Ann Oakes-Odger's son Westley, 27, was killed in September last year after he told a man not to push into the queue at a Colchester cash point.

Mrs Oakes-Odger has launched a campaign for tougher sentences for people carrying knives and those who commit knife crime because she felt her son's “barbaric” killers had been let off lightly.

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The East Anglian Daily Times is supporting her efforts as she hopes to take a petition to Downing Street later this year.

She said the impact of Westley's death had left her sick with grief but she now hopes to bring a positive outcome from the events of just over a year ago.

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On the day of the attack, a friend called her to say Westley had been stabbed and when Mrs Oakes-Odger phoned Colchester General Hospital she was told her son was dead.

“You see it on the news, but never think it will be you, and that is why I feel I must continue to speak out as much as possible - to highlight the situation. I am now that grieving parent, but it could be anyone.”

Although she has drawn strength from her campaign, she said there were times when the loss hits her.

“I must experience shock at the fact he will never be coming through my door again several times a day.

“Most of my friends who know me have said how strong I have been throughout the whole ordeal, but the strength to fight on as in memory of Westley because I want some good to come out of the tragedy.”

She also described how she had to fight for her victim's personal statement read out to Chelmsford Crown Court upon completion of the trial of Marc and Andrew Fredericks.

“I sat and listened to the most horrendous details of my son's last moments - determined to be present throughout the whole of the court case so my son would see justice through me.

“But I was told it was too long to have the whole of it read out, yet had to sit there and listen to the mitigation for his killers, with the added insult that a prison officer had given a character reference.

“That sums up how victims are treated, not only was my son's life almost a side issue to the rights of the perpetrators, but the pain and anguish it caused to this family was of less value than the mitigation.”

At Chelmsford Crown Court Andrew Fredericks was sentenced to life for Westley's murder with a minimum term of 15 years and Marc received seven years for manslaughter.

Mrs Oakes-Odger appealed to the Attorney General for the sentences to be increased but has been told the case will not be referred to the Court of Appeal because the punishment was not “unduly lenient”.

n Mrs Oakes-Odger is hoping to hear from East Anglian Daily Times readers whose families have

been affected by knife crime.

Anyone wanting to contact her should write to East Anglian Daily Times, 2nd Floor, Fairfax House, Causton Road, Colchester, Essex, CO1 1RJ.


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