UK & World News
Stab Victim's Mum Wants Tougher Prison Terms
A grieving mother has called for compulsory prison terms for those carrying a weapon, after her teenage son was stabbed to death.
Jay Whiston, who was 17, kissed mum Caroline Shearer goodbye on September 8 and left their Clacton home for a 15-year-old's birthday party in Colchester.
Four hours later there was a knock on the door that every parent dreads. Jay's stepfather Mick Shearer went down to answer it - Mrs Shearer followed.
She said: "I got halfway down the stairs and saw those boots, those policeman boots, and I said, 'I'm not coming down ... I'm not coming down.'"
The police told them Jay had been seriously hurt. They were driven straight to hospital.
"They let me get out and another policeman came," said Mrs Shearer, in tears. "He knelt down by the car and said, 'I'm sorry, you're too late.'
"And I said, 'What do you mean I'm too late?'"
Jay, a straight A student, with big plans for a future working in law, had been stabbed twice. The wound to his heart proved fatal.
The party should have been safe. Guests were personally invited via Facebook and were allowed to bring a named friend. But, of the 150 partygoers, at least one was armed.
Mr and Mrs Shearer are convinced only the guarantee of time in jail will stop young people going out with knives in their pockets.
"They are running feral. There is no deterrent. Everyone will tell you they are not scared because, when they get in front of the judges, nothing happens," said Mrs Shearer.
"We are going to try to go for a mandatory sentence. If you carry a knife, it's mandatory. No excuses, you do it. Three or six months, whatever it is, to put the deterrent in place."
In the year to September 2011, there were 32,500 recorded offences involving knives or other sharp instruments in England and Wales.
The custody rate for juveniles aged 10 to 17 was 9% and 25% for adults, while community sentence was given to juveniles in 56% of cases and to adults in 26%.
But, while the maximum sentence for carrying a knife is four years, the average jail term given in 2010 was only 4.8 months.
As well as pushing for harsher sentences, Mrs Shearer also wants to make sure younger children are educated about the dangers of carrying weapons.
That means going into schools like the one Jay himself attended - Tendring Technology College - which already has a zero tolerance policy on knives.
During a visit, Mr and Mrs Shearer met 11- and 12-year-old pupils in Year Seven. They are going to create posters to help raise awareness of the dangers.
One of them, Woody Fitzpatrick, agreed that weapons education should even start at primary school.
He said: "If you start it, maybe, in Year Five or Six, they would understand and if you kept doing it every year at secondary school, like a lesson in PHSE, they would remember that."
Five 17 and 18-year-olds questioned over Jay's murder are due to answer police bail on October 18.