Yobs armed with knives are being urged to put down their weapons – as a teenager who stabbed a young Sheffield man to death was jailed for life.
Today The Star stands shoulder to shoulder with the heartbroken parents of Joe Walker, who was killed when a knife was plunged into his back by a youth, Jimmy Connors, at a party.
Joe’s grieving parents, Patrick Walker and Karen Foulstone, are urging those who arm themselves with knives to give up their weapons.
“I want people to learn a lesson from the path Jimmy Connors has chosen and not carry knives,” devastated Paddy told The Star.
The father of two sons said: “Carrying knives is something I have never agreed with. My lads don’t carry knives and I don’t think anyone else should either.”
Joe’s mum Karen added: “People going around carrying knives think they look good. In fact they’re only showing that they’re weak.”
Joe, aged 23, was left for dead after being chased by a pack of yobs, stabbed, kicked and stamped on as he lay slumped on the ground.
His killer - a dad already at the age of just 17 - was jailed for a minimum of 15 years yesterday after being found guilty of murder.
Det Insp Melanie Palin, deputy senior investigating officer in the case, said Connors’ sentence was heavier because he had been armed.
“We are hoping that the sentence being enhanced, because Jimmy took a knife, will deter other people from carrying knives,” she added.
“If Jimmy had not taken a knife that night it’s likely Joe would still be with us today.
“Carrying a knife may seem like a defensive tactic, but if you don’t have a knife you won’t be tempted to use it. There’s also the chance that, if you have a knife, it will be used against you as well as other people.
“I hope this tragic case serves as a deterrent to others who are thinking of carrying knives. I hope seeing Connors brought to justice will come as a small shred of comfort to Joe’s family.”
Jailing the killer, judge Mr Justice John Griffith Williams said despite Connors’ youth he was ‘streetwise’ and had a reputation which had left people ‘frightened’.
He said Connors, of Atherton Road, Arbourthorne, had been ‘at the head of a pack’ who chased Joe from the party on Waltheof Road, Manor.
“You gave chase at the head of a gang or pack all intent on violence,” he told him. “Joe Walker must have been very frightened indeed.”
He said although he did not believe Connors had intended to kill, he ‘knew full well the likely consequences of a stabbing with a knife’.
The judge said Connors is ‘not particularly bright’ and had been failed by the education system. But he said a letter from Connors, in which he apologised, had been ‘self serving’ and more about the impact on himself than on his victim’s family.
The judge said he felt it ‘highly unlikely’ any remorse expressed had been genuine.
Connors described the knife attack as a ‘stupid, drunken mistake’. But the judge said although Connors’ heavy drinking that night may explain his actions, it could not excuse them.