Ryan Passey was stabbed at Chicago's, Stourbridge...
From Birmingham Mail. Original Report by Mike Lockley, 10 March 2019.
THE stench of bitterness clings to Ryan Passey’s family like smoke on damp clothes. The tracks of their tears are deepened by a sense of injustice.
We know who pierced the popular windowcleaner’s heart during dancefloor violence at Chicago’s nightspot in Stourbridge on August 6, 2017.
Kobe Murray, aged 19, inflicted the fatal wound – “I felt the knife go in...I felt bone,” he told the jury – and left the scene.
At Birmingham Crown Court, however, he was cleared of both murder and manslaughter and left court a free man.
Murray told the court he had, while inside the club, taken the weapon from a friend because “it was a stupid thing to have in there”.
He accidentally stabbed 24-year-old Ryan, from Brierley Hill, while pushing him away, jurors found.
Outside court, father Adrian denounced the decision as disgusting. Mum Gillian Taylor said: “It’s a joke. I’m so disappointed in the justice system.
“This will open the floodgates for others to go out with knives.”
For the family, there can be no closure. There are no answers. The virus of anger thrives inside them. Their lives are on hold.
“Some days you are great, some days you break down,” said step-dad Philip. “You feel guilty. If you go out and enjoy yourself, it suddenly hits you. You feel guilty.
“No wedding, no grandchildren, nothing to look forward to.”
Supported by Philip and ex-husband Adrian, Gillian took a deep breath before whispering: “Ryan was lovely, he never looked for trouble. He was one of the most happy-go-lucky people you could wish to meet, everyone loved him. It has devastated us.”
“I will never be the same, I’ve never felt anything like this pain. You never think it will happen to you.”
Following the court’s decision that pain has been blended with numbness.
Gillian has memorised the words of Judge Julian Goose QC that followed the jury’s announcement: “In the end the jury made their decision.
“They have made it clear and there is nothing further that needs to be said.”
A lot more needs to be said, feel those who mourn.
Father Adrian said: “Ryan had everything to live for. He had set up his own successful window cleaning business and he and his girlfriend were both saving for their first home together.
“One of the hardest things is on a Sunday morning going to watch my son’s football team every week and not seeing my boy walk off the pitch with his friends.
“He loved playing football and it hurts so much.”
Ryan Passey was an exceptional footballer, playing for Stourbridge and Lye.
Gillian and Philip received the grim news that “one of the Passeys has been stabbed” at 1.15am. They raced first to Dudley’s Russells Hall Hospital, then to the Queen Elizabeth in Edgbaston.
“I thought he was going to be OK,” said Philip, “but a doctor said he passed away at 2.07am.”
Adrian was in Devon when he received the news. The drive home remains a blur.
“I got a phone call off Phil telling me what happened,” he said. “It was a horrendous journey, the journey back. I went to see Ryan the next day – to identify him.”
The family’s focus is now on change. To that end, they and close friend Jason Cannon have launched Justice for Ryan, a campaign group with one clear objective.
They want victims and their families to have the legal right to appeal jury decisions.
They need 100,000 signatures on their petition – a huge figure that will allow the issue to be debated in Parliament.
In Jason, they have a passionate and vocal spokesperson.
After Murray walked free, Jason issued an emotive statement: “This completely sends out the wrong message about carrying knives.
“In bringing back this verdict, the jury has endorsed people being allowed to carry knives.”
He has since found the words – and they are powerful. The family must accept the crown court’s decision, but cannot accept that clutching a blade in a crowded public place does not fracture the rule book. If it doesn’t, it should, they say, especially amid the knife crime epidemic.
“We feared at the time the jury decision to allow Ryan’s killer to walk free from court would only serve to endorse people being allowed to carry knives and use them,” he explained.
“I honestly believe, at present, there is not an effective enough message being sent out by our courts to prevent people carrying a knife.
“We read from our Government: ‘There has been a more proactive approach and more effort put into tackling knife crime of late by community groups and charities that are working to educate our youngsters, but this will take years before we really see any impact on the figures’.
“We need immediate action. I believe our courts and judges have a big responsibility towards tackling knife crime, but time and time again they are failing victims and their families by handing down paltry sentences.
“This is sending out a very dangerous message to our youth. The police state that even if you get caught carrying a knife, it can mean up to four years in prison and an unlimited fine, but, in reality, very few offenders are being given a custodial sentence.
“Our justice system is clearly failing the victims and families of knife crime. Worryingly for us all is the amount of people charged with a knife offence who are using ‘acted in self defence’ at their trial.
“Defence barristers are regularly claiming their clients acted in self-defence, or did not intend to do harm.
“The public is getting extremely frustrated and angered by how our government and our justice system are dealing with knife-related offences.
“Common sense and the basic rule of law seem to have gone out of the window. There needs to be more protection and rights for the victims and their families.
“It is important to remember that all those who have been killed through knife crime were individuals with plans and aspirations, too.
“There are now empty bedrooms in the homes of grieving families up and down our country.
“The police can only do so much – it’s then up to our justice system and courts to ensure that an effective punishment and deterrent is delivered to anyone carrying or using a knife.”
Change will come too late for Ryan. His bed will forever be empty.
But it is not too late for change to save others from the pain the Passey family experience every hour, every minute of every day.
“What life?” asks Gillian poignantly. “We haven’t got a life.”
It was not just Ryan who died on the dancefloor.