'We still look for them': The mums of knife victims united in grief

The mothers of three teenagers who lost their lives to knife crime say they still look for their children in public, years after their deaths.

Jack Woodley, Connor Brown and Samantha Madgin were all fatally stabbed.

Their families are now backing calls for tighter restrictions on buying knives to prevent others from having to endure their pain.

Jack Woodley

Ten youths were convicted of the murder of Jack Woodley in Houghton-Le-Spring. Credit: Family photo

At the age of 18, Jack Woodley was fatally stabbed with a "Rambo-style" knife after being surrounded by a group of youths in Houghton-le-Spring in October 2021.

His mother Zoey McGill recalls the moment she knew her son had passed away.

"It was just panic," she said. "The paramedic told us he'd been stabbed and instantly - I don't know if it's a mother-son bond, but I knew my son was gone."

After a lengthy trial, 10 defendants aged between 14 and 17 were convicted of his murder. However, nine have been given permission to appeal their convictions

"I don't think there's anything that I haven't lost from Jack's death. I don't think anything fazes you when you've gone through this. I lost my marriage and my job and it doesn't faze you because when you've gone through that kind of heartbreak, nothing can hurt you more."

Samantha Madgin

Samantha Madgin was 18 when she was stabbed to death in Wallsend. Credit: Family photo

Samantha Madgin, from Wallsend, was just 18 and had recently become a mother when she was stabbed to death in 2007. Her killer was just 15 years old.

Her mother Alison started the charity Samantha's Legacy in her memory, hoping to educate more young people about the dangers of carrying knives.

Years on from her death, she says she is still adjusting to the reality of life without her daughter.

"I describe it as my body's made of glass and it gets glued together," she said. "But then every now and then, the glue starts wearing off and a piece falls off. I have to get up and glue that piece back on. I feel like a piece of glass that's just ready to break any time.

"It's getting so frequent. It's been sixteen years since Samantha and we started campaigning... I mean, knife crime wasn't actually called knife crime then. They've just taken no notice, none whatsoever."

"You've got to have hope. I know young people are listening. It's not going to change overnight, it's going to be a long-term."

Connor Brown

Connor Brown was fatally stabbed in Sunderland City Centre. Credit: Family photo

Connor Brown was fatally stabbed in Sunderland in 2019 while celebrating a friend's birthday. He was stabbed five times before his killers kicked and stamped on him.

For his mother Tanya, memories of that night remain vivid. She said "We got into town, we were put into the back of a police van for our own protection. I remember seeing a tent, and later I found out that's where Connor was having open heart surgery.

"Then we got to the RVI, and the doctor came into the room and told us that Connor didn't make it. I just remember the scream, the almighty scream that came from myself."

Two men - Leighton Barrass and Ally Gordon, both aged 20 - were convicted of his murder.

In the years since, Connor's family has campaigned tirelessly in his memory, including launching a trust in his name and delivering 'stab kits' in the community to prevent future fatalities.

His mother Tanya says hearing of other deaths by knife crime leaves her feeling "physically sick".

"It puts me back to that moment, from getting that phone call, every time I hear of another knife crime incident. It puts me straight back to that moment."

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