Tyrone Clarke’s Story told by his mum Lorraine
From the moment he was born, it was me and Tyrone against the world. As a single mum, I was all he had. That’s why I was so nervous about telling him my news. He was 12 years old but looked like a man in his school uniform. ‘Can I have a word with you, I asked, and he sat down next to me and asked ‘What’s up?’ I wanted him to be the first one to know that I was pregnant. He looked amazed and said ‘You are too old to be doing stuff to have babies’ I playfully punched him but he wasn’t smiling and sulked off upstairs to watch TV.
I ordered his favourite takeaway pizza and knew he would come round eventually. It had taken him a while to get used to my boyfriend George Morrison but now they were best mates. I understood how he felt, it was hard for him when it had been just the two of us for such a long time and I often still thought of him as a giggling baby. But he as growing up fast and I didn’t need to sneak around and check on his work at lunchtime, he worked hard in class and I was proud of my son.
Later that night we sat watching a video like best friends. ‘I guess the baby will be okay mum’ he said playing with his pet Spaniel Clio. He didn’t have a bad bone in his body and I smiled.
As my bump got bigger I started decorating the nursery and Tyrone was there in a flash, paint pot in one hand and brush in the other. I’ll go up the ladder mum; you need to be careful he said. When our daughter Shannon was born he was the happiest brother and fussed over her constantly.
George and I hit a rough patch and I tried to hide the tears but Tyrone saw me. ‘I don’t want you getting hurt any more mum, it hurts me as well.’ When did you get so smart I said, and Tyrone said ‘I just love you mum’ and gave me a big hug.
I ended things with George and suddenly realised that Tyrone had become really grown up, girls called the house, his mates were round for dinner and he was getting a life away from me but I was there whenever he needed me.
One afternoon when he went off to hang around a friends house I called him back, ‘Promise me you will be careful’ I said ‘I don’t know what I would do if anything happened to you’ He just told me to Chill out.
That night I was at home with Shannon when the phone rang. It as my sister Adele Fraser, but she was in such a state of panic that I didn’t recognise her voice at first. ‘I’ve heard that someone is going to kill Tyrone, I heard something from a friend and I think he should stay in for a while to be safe.’ I was screaming at her and asking what she was talking about. I felt sick and was pacing up and down in the kitchen by the time Tyrone got home a few hours later.
I demanded to know what was going on and told him what Adele had said. Nobody is going to kill me mum, he said and gave me a hug. I knew he’d had a couple of run ins with a group of lads before. They’d call him racist names but nobody had ever hurt him.
I didn’t want him to go out the next day but he laughed and said it was all talk, telling me ‘you know what lads are like. I knew I couldn’t wrap him up in cotton wool and when he came home later safe and sound I told myself it was just lads showing off.
The next day was George’s birthday and I popped round to the Malvern Pub in Beeston where he was having a drink with his mates, to give him a card from Shannon who was now 4.
I saw Tyrone outside the shops with his friends. As soon as he saw us he ran over and said to Shannon ‘Give us a kiss Princess’ He asked what was for tea and I said it was his favourite – Lasagne. ‘Make sure it’s homemade he teased as he walked away to rejoin his friends.
Just after 5pm I had a phone call from Linda the Landlady at the pub to tell me that Tyrone had been stabbed. When I arrived there was a crowd and police and ambulance sirens and I shoved people out of the way screaming ‘Its my son’ I couldn’t get to him, I could just see his legs and feet and his motionless body lay on the pavement while paramedics worked on him.
When Adele arrived she bundled me into her car and we followed behind the ambulance, all I knew was that Tyrone had been stabbed twice in the back. ‘Stay with me son’ I begged.
Walking into Leeds General Infirmary a doctor approached me. ‘I’m sorry we might not be able to save your son’ he said. ‘Get back in that room and save him, he is everything to me’ A few minutes later the same doctor returned and said ‘I’m sorry, the knife pierced his heart and we can’t bring him back’
I wanted to see him; Tyrone was lying in the middle of the operating theatre on a table covered with a sheet. I sobbed ‘Oh Ty’ and pulled him into my arms. I didn’t want to let him go but a nurse led me away.
Back at home I couldn’t carry on, the doctor gave me anti-depressants and sleeping tablets. His friends called rounds to see me and explained that a group of youths had chased Tyrone up an alleyway and stabbed him in broad daylight. When the police arrived 21 boys were still beating him so badly that his body was being lifted off the ground by the blows.
My heart broke into a million pieces imagining my poor son’s last terrifying moments. The police arrested one attacker and were searching for more. I shut myself in Tyrone’s room and cuddled his favourite black and white Nike T-shirt. It still smelt of his aftershave. His dog Clio, lay next to me, whimpering. I pushed my family away and stopped eating and doing my washing.
Four weeks later I was allowed to bring Tyrone home, he lay in a casket in the living room and I lay on the sofa next to him and put my arms around him and cried.
The next day over 400 people came to his funeral at St Luke’s Church, Beeston. When he was younger he bought me ‘I will always love you’ by Whitney Houston, so it was played in the church.
Back home it was a nightmare, I slept in Tyrone’s bed wearing his Nike T-shirt and crying myself to sleep. I lost more than three stone.
Nine months later in January 2005 his attackers went on trial at Leeds Crown Court. On the first say I sat as watched as four youths walked into the courtroom with big grins on their faces. One had been in Tyrone’s class at primary school! All four of them denied murdering Tyrone. I listened as the prosecution described what had happened. ‘Twenty one boys set upon Tyrone with an arsenal of weapons…. I closed my eyes trying to block it out…. ‘They beat him with a baseball bat and metal pipes …. I forced myself to listen….. ‘They sprayed CS gas into his eyes and stabbed him in the heart….
A female police officer described what she had seen when she arrived. ‘They were still laying into him so hard that his body was being lifted off the ground by the force of their blows. I wanted to torture them all. Hearing those graphic details made me feel physically ill but I as determined to go to court every day for Tyrone’s sake. I listened to their feeble excuses but at the end of the fifth week the jury returned the only possible verdict. Guilty of murder.
Islamur Rahman, 21, Anjum Ami, 22, and Liaquat Ali, 17, all from Beeston were found guilty of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. Then the judge recommended they serve minimum terms of nine to twelve years. Was that all? ‘How dare you, they have taken my son’s life and ruined mine’ I shouted out.
Over a year has passed since Tyrone’s death. Every day I wake up and hope it’s been a terrible nightmare. Not a day goes by when I don’t cry. Now it’s just the two of us. Except this time its me and Shannon. She is the only thing that keeps me going and I know Tyrone is always in our hearts. When Shannon is older I will tell her about what a brave boy her big brother was and how proud I am of him. His life, however short, was worth more than a million of the thugs that killed him.
Lorraine has now set up a branch of MAMAA in Leeds and is continuing to help fight against knife crime, she does not want other people to go through what her and her family have been put through. If you live in the Leeds area and are affected by knife crime please contact MAMAA through the website and we will pass your details to Lorraine.