Stabbed in the back
This woman killed my son. Now I’m giving him a fitting legacy
Sophie Kafeero, 69, Kingston, Surrey
As the taxi slowed to a stop, I pushed open the door and stepped out.
There, waiting with the front door open, stood my strapping son Derick, 38.
‘Welcome home, Mum!’ he beamed, beckoning me into his arms.
‘I’ve missed you,’ I replied, leaning up to kiss Derick’s cheek.
It was 6 June 2017, and I’d just returned from a six-month trip to Uganda, where I’d helped run an AIDS charity.
With Derick’s dad Richard going missing in the political unrest in 1981, I’d brought Derick to the UK for a fresh start in 1989.
Away from the horrors of our past, somewhere safe.
Despite the losses we’d suffered, I felt extremely lucky to have Derick.
Just the two of us against the world.
Now, Derick carried my luggage inside and led me to the kitchen, where he’d cooked breakfast and poured me a glass of chilled Lambrini – my favourite – to celebrate. ‘I left two bottles in the fridge for you,’ he said.
‘You’re so thoughtful,’ I smiled.
Over the next hour, I told him about my work in Uganda, while Derick updated me on his football coaching for the local kids.
I felt a rush of pride as Derick told me how well they were doing.
Now dad to 16-year-old D’andre, Derick was a muchloved pillar of the community, affectionately known as Del Boy, the Gentle Giant.
We finished up our eggs and, while D Derick ik went t tomeet to meet hi his friends, I settled back in.
In the afternoon, I wanted to relax in front of the telly, but I’d been away so long that I couldn’t remember how to use the remote control!
Thankfully, Derick explained it to me over the phone. ‘I’ll see you later,’ he said. ‘Bye, I love you,’ I replied. Hours later, one of Derick’s friends called. And when I answered, his words tumbled out, high-pitched and panicked.
‘Derick’s been stabbed to death!’ he cried.
‘What?’ I shouted into the phone in stunned disbelief.
Time seemed to stand still as I suddenly became aware of the whirr of helicopter blades outside the house.
The air ambulance...
No! Not my Derick, please...
It’d happened just a few streets away, so I rushed there on foot, in floods of tears. All around the park, where Derick had coached football, police cars were lined up. I shoved my way through the crowds and police barriers, desperate to see my boy, but they wouldn’t let me through. All I saw were two feet, sticking out of the back of the ambulance.
I learnt paramedics had tried to treat Derick, but he’d died at the scene from two stab wounds in his back.
Heartbroken, I turned and spotted dozens of familiar faces around me.
So many local people who’d known Derick, all with tears in their eyes.
I went home in a daze, while Derick’s friends lit candles for him in the park.
After a week, me, D’andre, and a few of Derick’s friends went to the morgue, where we had to identify his body.
All of us were sobbing, all in tears at our loss.
Crippled with grief, the community rallied around.
They brought me dinners, kept me company.
Two months later, Derick’s body was finally brought home to my house, so his friends could pay their respects, and we held his funeral the next day.
Over 500 people turned up, bringing wreaths, balloons and their fond memories of my boy Derick.
There wasn’t a dry eye in the house as I delivered my eulogy.
Many had offered to read it for me, but I was determined to do it myself.
Looking out at the faces of everybody who turned up to honour my wonderful son’s
Derick was a muchloved pillar of the community
memory, my spirits lifted.
But, afterwards, my thoughts turned to how Derick had died.
He certainly hadn’t been the type to get into fights or pick on anybody.
Derick didn’t have enemies, only friends.
I waited for the court case, for answers.
Last December, I sat in the public gallery as Shauna Doyle, 23, admitted manslaughter, and Eric Wertz, 45 pleaded guilty to one count of attempted grievous bodily harm with intent.
I refused to lock eyes with either of them.
My son was dead, and the outcome of the hearing wouldn’t change that.
I just wanted to know what had happened that awful day.
During the hearing, I learned that Doyle was Derick’s ex-girlfriend.
They’d been in a brief relationship in October 2016, but it couldn’t have been serious. I’d never once heard of her.
The court heard Derick had gone to Doyle’s flat and got into an argument after he found Wertz there.
A struggle had broken out after Wertz attacked my son with nunchucks, a martial-arts weapon.
And while the two men scrapped outside in the car park, Doyle had drawn a knife and approached Derick from behind.
From the balcony, a neighbour called out to her not to do it. But, after a moment of hesitation, Doyle sank the knife into my boy. Derick had died at the scene. I couldn’t believe that I’d lost my son to such senseless violence.
Shauna Doyle was sentenced to seven years in jail, while Eric Wertz was given 40 months.
Both got nine months for possession of an offensive weapon, to run concurrently.
I didn’t feel that the sentences fitted the crime.
While those two will be out in a matter of years, will pick up the pieces of their lives, the rest of us will serve a life sentence.
Myself, Derick’s son, and the heartbroken community left behind.
But I don’t hate Doyle. Derick’s life was all about love, so I’m not going to let hatred into mine now. And we won’t let his death be in vain.
Countless memorials have been set up in my son’s memory, and I’ve started a campaign against knife crime, called Drop a Knife, Save a Life.
On the first anniversary of Derick’s death, we organised a charity football tournament that drew a crowd of 400 people.
I’ve set up a charity in his name – the Derick Mulondo Foundation. Knife crime is tearing families and communities apart, and I’ve experienced it first hand.
I won’t sit back and do nothing about it.
His life was about love. I won’t let hatred into mine
For more info on Drop A Knife, Save A Life, visit justiceforderickmulondo.wordpress.com
Doyle: knifed Derick
Me with grandson D’andre: we’ll work together in his dad’s name...
Derick with son D’andre when he was little