A Londonderry mother who lost her only son in a fatal stabbing in London earlier this year said she is “completely numb” as a result of his “senseless killing”.
Michelle McPhillip’s only child, 28-year-old Jonathan James (JJ) was fatally stabbed shortly after midnight on February 24.
He had been out for the night with his cousins and when they parted ways, JJ went to sit on the steps of the town hall in Islington.
Michelle told the Derry Journal that “all hell broke loose” when a 17-year-old was stabbed.
“JJ tried to get away from it all and he was stabbed when someone bumped into him. He had nothing to do with anything. He was an innocent bystander,” she said.
“He managed to run to a local nightclub and asked the security staff for help. There was no blood or anything, but he was bleeding internally and an ambulance was called.”
At the minute, it is like I am watching somebody else’s life. You always hear about these things but don’t think it is ever going to happen to you and yours
Michelle works just five minutes away from the scene of her son’s murder and arrived there at the same time as the ambulance.
“I got into the ambulance with him and at that stage he was finding it difficult to breathe. He called out to me and grabbed my hand and I just told him to keep breathing.”
The London Air Ambulance came to JJ’s aid and Michelle watched on as they opened her son’s chest and massaged his heart in the street.
JJ was taken to hospital and had surgery to repair his heart and lungs, but Michelle said she believes her son was already dead through lack of oxygen.
Four days after he stabbed, JJ was declared brain dead and Michelle had to make the heartbreaking decision to turn off the life support machine.
The Londonderry woman, who has lived in London for the last four decades, said the London Air Ambulance gave her an extra four days with her son.
“They are so good at what they do and that is why I want to fundraise for them in JJ’s name,” she said.
“With those four extra days, they gave us the opportunity to say goodbye to JJ properly.”
Michelle, who returns to Londonderry regularly, said her son “loved life”.
“JJ fixed bikes and loved riding them. He loved life, loved music and was a very sociable person. When he had his children, four-year-old Lexie and two-year-old Evie, it made him mature and they are real Daddy’s girls.
“I found out later that JJ was the tenth fatal stabbing in London in the eight weeks since the start of 2017.
“We don’t get to hear about all of them, because the surgeons have got so good at saving the lives of stabbing victims.”
Michelle said she is drawing strength from helping the police catch those responsible, as well as a fundraising campaign in aid of the London Air Ambulance.
There will be fundraising events in Londonderry as Michelle’s family here want to do all they can to help her.
“At the minute, it is like I am watching somebody else’s life. You always hear about these things but don’t think it is ever going to happen to you and yours.
“I am completely numb, there has been a couple of times where I have broken down and screamed but I really haven’t released anything.”
She added: “I am concentrating on catching the killer because I need justice for my boy. He was completely innocent bystander who should never have been touched by anyone in anyway.”
Michelle will be taking part in march next month which will see the Islington community protest about the “scary” rise in knife crime.
“People taken away from families for no reason because of knife crime. I know my son inside out and know he never had any reason to arm himself with anything. I know he wasn’t doing anything to have something like this to happen to him. That is the bit I just can’t come to terms with. His killing was completely senseless.”
Michelle wants to go into schools in her local area to educate children about knife crime.
“I want to talk to kids about knife crime and the consequences of carrying a knife. Let them know that the point of a knife means life and this can affect anyone. I never had any reason to believe my son would go out and get knifed.”
She would also like a registration process for knives, similar to the licence procedure for anyone who owns a gun.
“Knives could easily be engraved with a registration number. Anyone buying a sharp knife should have to provide identification and register it. I would also like to see harsher sentences for knife crime, because it is going the same direction as America with guns and it is scary.”
For more information visit www.facebook.com/justiceforjar and to donate to the fundraising campaign www.gofundme.com/3g7hjp4