The mother of a murdered 23-year-old man from Northampton has spoken out about the “soul-destroying” news that knife crime still persists in our town.
Reece Ottaway was stabbed to death by a murderous gang in a botched robbery for drugs and money at Cordwainer House, St James in February 2019.
His mother, Charlotte Marshall, has been an advocate against knife crime ever since.
On Saturday (May 7), Charlotte was speaking in the Market Square about the harrowing consequences knife crime can bring to families.
Her speech was delivered at the same time The Knife Angel, a 27ft-tall national monument against violence and aggression made from knives and weapons seized by England and Wales’ 43 police forces, has been brought into Northampton town centre.
However, despite the knife angel being present outside All Saints' Church, on Friday (May 6), horrified passers-by saw two men fighting with a machete at lunchtime less than 200 yards from the statue.
Reacting to this news, Charlotte said: "A machete was one of the murder weapons that killed Reece. So to hear it was a machete, and they were fighting near the knife angel, I was absolutely speechless. I honestly don't know what was going through their heads.
"First of all, it's really disrespectful to be next to a national monument against violence and aggression swinging machetes.
"The second thought I had was about their mums who don't realise how close they were to losing their sons. The one who was swinging a machete would end up in prison, and the other one would lose their son to murder, like me.
"Before Reece was murdered I didn't think something like this would happen to me. But now, when I see things like this in the news, it really hurts.
"I was disgusted when I read about it, of all the places for them to be doing that, just yards away from the monument. It makes you think, why are they bothering with the statue if nobody cares?
"I feel knife crime is a disease and it's just spreading throughout the UK. I don't think it's getting better. There's a lot of awareness out there now and anti-knife crime groups but I don't feel, at the moment, it's making a dent in the issue. I think the only thing that is going to make a dent in the issue is harsher sentences for carrying a knife.
"Some of the sentences I've seen for murder and manslaughter are absolutely pathetic, and if was the parent of these victims I would not feel like my son or daughter has got any justice."
Charlotte went and saw the statue when it first arrived in Northampton on Friday, April 29, which proved to be an emotional day.
"I saw it in Coventry three years ago after Reece's funeral, but to see it in Northampton, where Reece lost his life, it was very emotional. I felt like just standing there and screaming at everybody,” the mother said.
"I felt like I was standing there and nobody knew who Reece was and what had happened and why I was there. There was a lot of people who thought it was 'cool', instead of thinking, 'we need to stop this'.
"The statue's message shouldn't be that it's 'cool', it's made up of 100,000 knives that have been taken off the streets, that just shows in itself how bad this situation is.
"It's not a cool thing to be carrying a knife, they hurt and kill people. They are not toys. They are not fun. It's soul destroying for everybody involved."