'We're broken; our lives have changes for ever': Reece Ottaway's mum shares families' heartbreak in wake of Northampton murder
Two families have shared their heartache over the loss of their son to a 'senseless murder' in Northampton.
Reece Ottaway, 23, was stabbed to death in a brutal attack by five young men who tried to rob him at a flat in Cordwainer House, St James, in February this year.
Four of the five men were handed life sentences for murder at Northampton Crown Court yesterday (Nov 1) and will serve more than 100 years between them.But at the sentencing, Reece's mum, dad and step dad shared how his death has "broken" their families - but also how it compelled them to stay together to get justice for his death.
The families' heartache was heard at Northampton Crown Court yesterday (Nov 1) as part of the gang of five's sentencing.
Reece's mum, Charlotte Marshall, bravely stood in the witness box to tell her son's killers how their actions had hurt her family.
She said: "No parent should ever be in this position - to put into words how this senseless and meaningless attack on a young man who had his whole life ahead of him.
"No parent should have to face such a heart-breaking, gut-wrenching ordeal.
I struggle to find the words to convey the devastation that Reece's murder has had on our family."
Reece died in the early hours of February 1 after the five convicted offenders kicked down the door to his flat with a plan to rob him of drugs and money.
But in the chaotic two minutes that followed, Reece was fatally stabbed seven times.
Charlotte said: "Reece was taken from us in the most traumatic way imaginable, made worse by the total lack of remorse from the defendants.
"Me and my children will never be the same. We're broken. Our lives have been changed forever. Reece was taken by the cruellest attack imaginable.
"This limbo we are in is the loneliest place to be.
"This was no ordinary death. This was the merciless taking of the life of a gentle man. Of my son."
But Mrs Marshall closed her statement by saying she had spoken to one of the defendants - Ethan Stirling, 22, NFA - and had accepted his "apologies and genuine remorse" over the death of her son. Stirling was jailed for 14 years yesterday for manslaughter and conspiracy to rob.
Statements from many members of Reece's families were read out in court and painted how devastating his loss has been.
His father, David Ottaway, wrote: "Reece was such a loveable character. Everyone was drawn to him.
"But now he'll never get to see his little sister grow up. He'll never get to meet his newborn niece.
"As a family, it's taken a devastating toll on all of us. We cannot stop thinking of how he suffered that night. Was he scared? Was he in pain?
"Anger and pain that never existed in our lives before now affects us everyday. Reece's loss has left a massive void in our lives that can never be filled."
"The offenders actions have created such irreversible chaos in our lives that we have to deal with. We stay strong as a family to stay strong and get justice for Reece."
Reece was targeted by his attackers because he sold cannabis. The group imagined they would leave the attack with as much as £30,000 - but there was no such stash at the flat where Reece was staying.
In fact, after fatally stabbing Reece, they fled the flat with their spoils - an iPhone and a £10 note.
His step dad, Lee Marshall, wrote: "We knew what Reece did for a living and he knew it was against our wishes. But sometimes, he talked about how much he wanted to 'go straight' and open a bagel shop.
"He was in the wrong kind of work for the true person he was."
At court, Jordan Crowley, 21, and Adison Smith 20, were jailed for life with a minimum term of 34 and 30 years in prison respectively.
Alfie Drage, 20, and Cameron Higgs, 20, were also jailed for life each with a minimum term of 27 years.