'Never carry a knife'

CAMPAIGN LAUNCH: Poster designer Lily Golden; Jeanette Singleton, Lewis' mum; and Chief Insp Andy Bottomley.

CAMPAIGN LAUNCH: Poster designer Lily Golden; Jeanette Singleton, Lewis' mum; and Chief Insp Andy Bottomley.

First published in News Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Deputy News Editor

SHE has lived through every parent's worst nightmare.

Now the mother of murdered teenager Lewis Singleton has spoken about the impact of knife crime as she joined a campaign to stop people carrying blades.

Jeanette Singleton and her family have spent almost a year trying to come to terms with the death of Lewis who, aged just 18, was stabbed repeatedly as he walked home after a night out.

Speaking to the Daily Echo as the paper launched its joint knife campaign with Southampton police yesterday, she said: "It may be nearly a year but it seems like just a week. I don't think emotionally we have come any further forward as a family and I don't think we ever will. We are just learning to cope with what has happened.

"As a mum I still feel the same as I did the day after it happened. It has ripped our family apart.

"It has touched so many people and that is just one life."

Lewis was knifed as he walked along Obelisk Road in Woolston on March 31 last year. A gang lay in wait in a car and pounced as he walked past.

Last month Rikki Johnson, 19, of Honeysuckle Road, Bassett, was convicted of murder and his co-defendant Sercan Calik, 19, of Burgess Road, Bassett, was found guilty of the manslaughter of Lewis. Harvell Mason, 17, of Saltmead, St Denys, was acquitted of both murder and manslaughter but found guilty of violent disorder. A fourth youth aged 16 was cleared of all charges.

Yesterday the Echo revealed how one in five teenagers had told police that they had carried a knife or a gun on the streets.

The statistics, from a survey of 14-year-olds, was also released as a fresh knife campaign was launched under the force banner of Operation Sharp.

Operation Sharp is an attempt to educate youths through their schools and their communities about the dangers of carrying a blade and also the fact that anyone caught in possession of a knife could be jailed for four years.

Attending the campaign launch at the Civic Centre was Lily Golden, 13, who designed a winning poster carrying the warning messages about knives. Her work can now be seen on the backs of two buses operating in the city. Also present were representatives of the city council and the safe city partnership.

Mrs Singleton said: "Anything that raises awareness of knife crime is a good thing. We need not only to get the message out to youths but parents as well. They need to know where their children are, what they are doing.

"I don't want anyone to go through what we have been through. Tackling knife crime, gun crime, violence on the streets is something we all need to take on. It's no good blaming the authorities. It starts at home."

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