The mum of an 18-year-old murdered by a group of teens as he walked home from a funfair has told of the devastating moment she found out he was dead.
Zoey McGill spoke out after the 10 teens who killed her son Jack Woodley were sentenced to life terms.
He was stabbed and assaulted in Houghton le Spring, Sunderland, on 16 October last year.
After finding out what had happened to her son, Zoey knew “immediately” that he might not survive.
‘We were told to give him a kiss and say goodbye’
In an emotional interview Zoey spoke of the hours after Jack was taken to the hospital and the aftermath of her son’s death.
She said: “We walked into the ICU unit, it just wasn’t my son. It was like looking at someone else, he was bloated from all the treatment he’d had. We went to hold his hand and we were stopped as it was evidence.
“So we just had to stand off him and the nurses gave us some gloves and gowns so we could hold his hand.”
Jack passed away while in surgery, and Zoey said: “ We were told to give him a kiss and say goodbye before they took him down. That was quite powerful.
“And when the surgeon came and sat me down, he was he was as emotional as I was and he was just a stranger to Jack, he just apologised and kept apologising for not being able to save his life.
“I remember screaming screaming when the surgeon told me, but then I would just - I don’t know I think I was just in shock.
“The days after were horrific. I just remember waking up at home and looking out my bedroom window and kept saying to myself over and over it was just a dream.”
‘He wanted to make his mam proud’
Speaking of her son she said: “Jack had a few problems in his life that he’d overcome, and things were looking up, he’d just applied to Amazon and got a new job there which he was due to start the Monday after he died.
“He wanted to make his mam proud. We always used to call him cheeky chappie blue eyed boy because he was just that, cheeky but in a nice loving way. He used to light up any room that you walked in, always joking and laughing.”
And in a stark warning about the dangers of carrying knives Zoey said: “Don’t do it, don’t carry a knife - don’t put yourself in that position where you could possibly use it.”
Watch the full interview below.
Group ‘looked for any excuse to attack someone’
Jack was fatally stabbed after being “surrounded and isolated” by a gang of youths who chased him down an alleyway
He was punched, kicked, stamped on, and stabbed with a 25cm “Rambo style” knife during the attack on October 16, a jury was told.
In mobile phone footage one of the teens was heard to shout: “get the chopper” - referring to the knife.
Prosecutors said the group had gone out “looking for serious trouble that day” and tried to “create conflict” with Mr Woodley at the festival as they “looked for any excuse to attack someone”.
On Friday, the 15-year-old who inflicted the fatal wound by stabbing Mr Woodley in the back was detained for a minimum of 17 years.
Judge Rodney Jameson QC sentenced the other nine defendants, aged between 14 and 18, to minimum terms of between eight and 15 years’ detention.
He told them that if they are then released, they will remain on licence for the rest of their lives.
The total minimum terms for all the defendants adds up to 124 years and six months.
Nine of the youths, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had denied murder and manslaughter.
One pleaded guilty to manslaughter, admitting he stabbed Mr Woodley but denying he intended to kill him, Newcastle Crown Court heard.
At the start of the trial in March, prosecutor Mark McKone QC said that while only one youth stabbed Mr Woodley, the other nine were guilty due to “the concept of joint enterprise”.
A jury convicted all 10 defendants of murder in June.
Nine of them intend to appeal against their convictions, the Crown Prosecution Service confirmed this week.
‘No sentence can restore Jack to his family and loved ones’
Sentencing the group, Judge Jameson said: “No sentence can restore Jack to his family and loved ones, or reduce the pain they will endure now and in the future.
“It may seem unfair that you will be able to live at liberty while still young men, while Jack cannot because of what you did.”
He said the group had attacked Mr Woodley “solely for the excitement and pleasure of inflicting serious injury on an entirely innocent and randomly selected stranger”.
The judge told the defendants the violence inflicted on Mr Woodley “though short-lived, was appalling” and all of them “played a part in causing Jack’s death”.
He said six of the teenagers had given evidence during the trial, but none “was prepared to tell the truth about what the others did”.
He told them: “You decided to put the interests of yourself and your co-defendants before those of Jack and his family. You did everything you could to deny them justice.
“I’m sure you do regret what happened for many reasons, but regret is not remorse.”
Judge Jameson told the teenager who stabbed Mr Woodley: “I have concluded that you intended to kill when you inflicted the second stab wound. I accept that intention may have been formed in the heat of the moment.
“It is, however, that sort of escalation that can occur when violence is carried out mob-handed and when armed with a deadly knife.”
‘The consequences can destroy lives forever’
SenioDetective Chief Inspector Joanne Brooks of Northumbria Police, said: “Our thoughts continue to be with the loved ones of Jack following his tragic death and we will continue to support them in any way we can.
“They have shown incredible bravery to share the devastating impact of their loss and to encourage others to think twice about carrying a weapon and becoming involved in violence.
“In the hours leading up the fatal attack, Jack was having the time of his life at a funfair in Houghton. He’d even called his mum to say what a great time he was having.
“He had a lot to celebrate, as earlier that day he’d just picked up the keys for his first flat and was days away from starting a new job.
“Jack had his whole life ahead of him, but tragically would never spend a night in his flat and would never start his new job. Just minutes after talking to his mum, he was attacked by a group of teenage boys and fatally wounded.
Det Chief Insp Brooks hopes the case acts as a serious reminder about the potential consequences of choosing to carry a weapon.
She added: “As a Force, we want to send an unequivocal message to anyone who chooses to carry a weapon of any kind – or becomes involved in serious violence – there is never an acceptable excuse and the consequences can destroy lives forever.”