Readers' Letters

Readers' Letters

Editor’s comment: Why I put the word ‘murder’ on the front of the Gazette’s Christmas issue

PUBLISHED: 14:19 21 December 2017

Michelle McPhillips has made a Christmas memorial wall in Milner Square in honour of murdered son Jonathon 'JJ' McPhillips. Picture: Polly Hancock

Michelle McPhillips has made a Christmas memorial wall in Milner Square in honour of murdered son Jonathon 'JJ' McPhillips. Picture: Polly Hancock


Apologies if today’s front page puts anyone off their Christmas dinner.

Where possible, I like to lead the Gazette with something festive and light-hearted over the holidays – everyone needs a break and, as people never tire of pointing out, good news rarely gets enough attention or column inches.

But for Michelle McPhillips, Christmas is already destroyed. And someone in Islington, perhaps someone reading this, might have the information that can bring her some closure.

Michelle has done fantastic work over the last year campaigning for an end to knife crime alongside others who have lost friends and family members – and she deserves Islington’s gratitude for that.

But she also deserves justice, as does every family that is wrecked by this violence.

I really applaud Michelle’s strategy of making her grief public.

At the time of JJ’s funeral she told us she wanted his killers to see her bearing the coffin through Islington. One day, we will find out whether they did.

At this stage, nine and a half years after the murder of Ben Kinsella, I don’t think anyone can claim to be ignorant of what knife crime does to communities.

But anything that can be done to show would-be criminals the results of carrying a blade is worth doing.

Every stabbing is a tragedy. Repeated exposure should not make us numb; it should strengthen our resolve to see justice done and to tackle the root causes of gang and knife crime, including poverty and inequality.

Michelle can’t solve those things, but she can and will keep searching for her son’s killers.

This is her first Christmas without JJ. But Islington can make it her last Christmas without answers.

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