DCSIMG

‘He lit up a room. It just seems so quiet now...’

Joe Walker

Joe Walker

  • by Polly Rippon and Claire Lewis
 

Treasured holiday photographs hang on the walls of Joe Walker’s family home in Intake, Sheffield.

Tanned and relaxed on a family break to Egypt to celebrate his mum’s 50th birthday last May, Joe grins into the camera without a care in the world.

But just four months later his young life was cut cruelly short – and the lives of his loving family were destroyed – after he was stabbed to death at a party on the 
Manor.

Before, there was laughter and happiness in the Walker family home, but now there is just sorrow and silence.

“He just lit up a room,” says Joe’s heartbroken mum, Karen Foulstone. “He was such a comedian, he was never sad, and he would just come out with these one liners - he always found the funny side to everything.”

Joe’s dad, Paddy Walker, 55, adds: “It just seems so quiet now. When I was upstairs, all I could ever hear was Joe and his mother laughing.

“She used to go into his bedroom and he’d hide under the bed and grab her ankles. There was always a good atmosphere with Joe.”

Joe was living at home with his parents in Hollybank Close, and working as a handyman for a construction firm, when he was murdered by 17-year-old Jimmy Connors last September.

He had been defending a friend at a party after a row when he was chased by a gang of teenage thugs.

Connors pulled out a large knife and stabbed 23-year-old Joe in the back, severing an artery in his heart, as others kicked and punched him while he lay on the ground.

Joe, who has an older brother Jack, 26, and a sister Shannen, 20, died shortly afterwards at the Northern General Hospital.

Paddy says: “We were at home and for some reason I was looking out of the 
window.

“I saw what I thought was Jack’s car pull on to the drive, and then I saw a police car behind it.

“I said to Karen, ‘The police are here’. We both came downstairs and I opened the door. A policewoman asked if we had a son called Joe Walker.

“She told us he’d been in an accident and that we needed to go to the Northern General.

“I was going to drive, but the police said they would take us. When we got there we sat in a room with a police officer - we still didn’t know anything.

“The police officer said they would find someone to talk to us. That’s when a surgeon came in and told us they couldn’t do anything for him.

“It was just like a dream. It wasn’t real, we were in shock.”

Paddy and Karen had been with Joe at home earlier that evening, and he’d told them he was going out for a drink but would be home at about 9.45pm.

They never saw him again.

Six months on, Paddy is having counselling and suffers from insomnia. When he does sleep, he has nightmares about Joe’s killer.

Shannen doesn’t like being in the house on her own.

Even Joe’s pet pug dog Mia mourned for her master. “After Joe died she cried every day when Joe didn’t come home,” said Paddy. “She knew what had happened.”

Sheffield United fan Joe had attended City School, and planned to follow in the footsteps of his dad and his brother who both work as electrical engineering contractors on power lines.

Paddy said: “He loved his keep fit and he loved his sport. When he was a child he was in the Junior Blades and once won a penalty shootout at Bramall Lane.

“He was very family-minded - he would take his grandad Terry Foulstone out every weekend.”

Joe was also uncle to Jack’s son, Bladen. “That’s something else we won’t see with our Joe – he’ll never have children or settle down,” says Paddy.

The family say they have been overwhelmed by the kindness shown to them by relatives, supporters and Joe’s friends.

More than 1,000 people attended Joe’s funeral, and his friends have organised events including a charity football tournament in his memory.

“They are keeping his memory alive,” says Paddy.

“We can’t thank them enough, from the bottom of our hearts.”

 

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