'I couldn't hold my dying son's hand because he was evidence', says mum of murdered Jack Woodley

Zoe McGill said "it was like looking at someone else" when she saw her son in a hospital bed on the night he was attacked. Credit: ITV News/Family photo

The mother of an 18-year-old who was murdered by 10 teenagers has recalled the moment she was stopped from holding her son's hand because his body was evidence.

Zoe McGill faced every parent's worst nightmare when she was confronted by her son's near-lifeless body in hospital after he was attacked by the gang in October last year.

Jack Woodley had been making his way home from a funfair in Houghton-le-Spring, near Sunderland, when he was set upon, beaten up and fatally stabbed the group of then 14 to 17-year-olds.

Recalling that night, his grieving mother said: "When we walked into the ICU unit, it wasn't my son.

"It was like looking at someone else. He was bloated from all the treatment he'd had. We went to hold his hand and we were stopped because he was evidence."

It was only once wearing gloves and a gown that Ms McGill could touch her son.

Jack, who was stabbed with a 25cm knife, died in theatre during a second operation to save him.

A surgeon then sat his family down to tell them the worst, while "apologising" for not being able to save his life.

Ms McGill said her son had begun to turn his life around after experiencing "problems in his life". He had a new job starting on the Monday after he died and was set to move into a flat.

Jack's final phone call with his mum was just minutes before the attack.

Her "cheeky chappy, blue-eyed boy" seemed upbeat after enjoying his time at the fair, she said, telling her "mam it's class".

Jack Woodley was stabbed with a 25cm knife as he was attacked as he made his way home from a funfair. Credit: Family photo

She added: "The next thing I heard was a message - and I remember, in shock, I think I sort of hit my husband and dived up and ran for the door."

The family then faced further heartache as they relived the details of Jack's death at a 78-day trial at Newcastle Crown Court.

Ms McGill described as "horrendous" seeing the group of ten teenage defendants, who cannot be named for legal reasons, for the first time.

She said: "When you hear someone's been murdered, you expect monsters and they were just young kids."

During evidence, Ms McGill said the teenagers on trial would "laugh" and "cough" as if it was "some kind of game".

It was only when the guilty verdicts came in that some of the defendants reacted emotionally.

"It's going to sound awful but it was nice to see some reaction, other than how they had displayed themselves previously," she said.

"It was nice to see it had actually hit them how serious [it was] what they had done. It was finally going in."

But, she continued, it was not emotion for her son Jack.

When Jack was in hospital, Ms McGill felt compelled to release a photo of her son to raise awareness of the consequences carrying a knife can have.

"I wanted to put the message out there that this is what happens when you use a knife, or carry a knife," she said.

"I wanted them to see not just that someone's been stabbed - that this is the effect."

Ms McGill hopes paying tribute to her son and speaking out will continue to send that clear message.

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