Killed Arsenal fan Sam Fitzgerald’s mother speaks of ordeal

The mother of Arsenal fan Sam Fitzgerald, who was fatally stabbed with a broken golf club outside a pub in 2010, has spoken of how her family had been “ripped apart” by his death.

Mr Fitzgerald, 20, had been watching his team play Spurs at the Thornhill Arms, Wynford Road, Islington, when he became involved in a brawl outside with Anthony Leader, 22, of Sidmouth Street, King’s Cross.

The Old Bailey was told how Leader, fearing he was losing the fight, grabbed a golf club lying on the ground which snapped when he struck Mr Fitzgerald. He then plunged the broken shaft into his victim’s chest, to a depth of 15 centimetres.

Mr Fitzgerald, who lived on the Priory Heights Estate, off Wynford Road, was pronounced dead several hours later, following emergency surgery.

His killer was handed a six year custodial sentence at the Old Bailey yesterday (Wednesday) after pleading guilty to manslaughter when a charge of murder was dropped.

Mr Fitzgerald’s family left the court in tears after the sentence was read out, and in a statement his mother Kathleen said she had moved away from the area because of the painful memories.

In a heartfelt statement she said: “The apple of my eye was taken from me. He wasn’t just my son, but my best friend.

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“Sam’s girlfriend had his baby after he died. It is so very sad for me to know he never knew his son. It’s heart-breaking.

“He was taken from us right outside my house. I had to walk past where he fell. Even going for a pint of milk was an ordeal.

“I cannot escape the flashbacks and nightmares, which got worse leading up to the trial.”

In a letter to the judge, Leader said he had gone to school with Sam who he thought of as an “old friend”. He also said: “I feel I owe Sam something. I owe his family something, I do. But I don’t know what I can do.”

In sentencing, Judge Charles Wide QC told Leader: “What you did is pick up a substantial weapon.

“Once it broke, I know you may not have realised it had a sharp point, but in the melee that followed, it went into Sam Fitzgerald and it killed him.”