Jay Whiston death: Mother tells of 'living torture'

Caroline Hill Shearer with Jay Whiston's box of possessions 'I was a mother of two children then, within three hours, I was a mother of one,' said Caroline Shearer

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The recurring image Caroline Shearer has of her son is not of first steps or his first day at school.

It is of a boy on the cusp of adulthood laying dead on a mortuary slab.

Six months have passed since 17-year-old Jay Whiston, a popular and successful A-level student, was murdered outside a house party in an affluent area of Colchester.

Jay, from Clacton, became one of about 200 people who are stabbed to death in the UK each year.

He died of a stab wound to the heart.

At his family home, Jay's prized Tag Heuer watch sits in a display cabinet. By coincidence, the watch stopped working on the night he died - at 19:25 GMT.

For his family, it is a poignant symbol of how, since his death, a key part of their lives too has stood still.

Jay's watch Jay's watch stopped at 19:25 on the night of his death

Mrs Shearer described the days since her son's death as a "living torture" - peppered only by the briefest of moments each morning, in the gap between sleep and consciousness, when the anguish of loss is kept at bay.

'Serious situation'

The moments are long enough, she says, to notice the weather. And then the grief returns with a wallop.

It is with her throughout the day - as she washes clothes, cooks meals or sees a car of the same colour as Jay's - and last thing at night as she falls asleep.

"I was a mother of two children then, within three hours, I was a mother of one," she said.

Start Quote

Why are these cowards carrying knives? When did it become acceptable?”

End Quote Caroline Shearer

On the night of his death, on 8 September last year, Jay nearly stayed at home.

"He said he was too tired, he wasn't going to go out," said Mrs Shearer.

He ate some pizza with his mother.

But after speaking with friends on the phone, Jay decided to go to the party, to celebrate the 15th birthday of a girl in Colchester.

That Jay was so close to staying at home is a fact which brings Mrs Shearer to tears.

At 22:20 GMT, when Mrs Shearer and her husband Mick were upstairs in bed, there was a knock at the door.

Mr Shearer got up to answer it. It was the police. He called up to say she needed to come downstairs.

Jay Whiston murder investigation

Jay Whiston
  • Police say there were about 190 people at the party in the Lexden area of Colchester
  • About 400 statements have been taken in connection with the case and police have examined 72 mobile phones for possible clues
  • In February this year, police launched adverts on the social networking site Facebook to reach people living in the Colchester and Clacton who might have information
  • Nine people have been arrested in connection with the case. Eight are currently on police bail until 22 March

"I said 'I'm not coming down' and at first I thought Jay had been in a car accident.

'Serious situation'

"But then I remembered he had not taken his car and they had arranged to have a designated driver.

"The policeman said there had been a serious situation."

The next time Mrs Shearer saw Jay, he was dead.

Mrs Shearer has not been to the scene of the stabbing. She says doing so would be too much to bear. Nor can she face using the block of knives in her kitchen.

Instead, she is doing all she can to raise awareness of knife-crime.

Actively working with schools, Mrs Shearer wants to see young children educated about the dangers of knives, stronger sentences for those caught carrying weapons and self-defence taught in schools.

She balks when she hears authorities say knife crimes are isolated and the general public is rarely at risk.

"Jay was the general public," she said. "I've spoken to one boy who said 85% of the people he knew carried knives.

"We need common sense not politics. Why are these cowards carrying knives? When did it become acceptable?"

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