A HERO’S HEART
Cat-botherers, big mouths and bullies knew to watch out for Georgina’s fella, Oggy. But what match was he for pure evil?
There was something different about my fella, Oggy. I noticed it the moment he walked in… ‘New work boots!’ I said, as it came to me.
‘Terry bought me these,’ he replied.
Terry was an elderly neighbour in our block of flats.
‘I did him a favour,’ Oggy shrugged.
A few days later, I saw Terry in the lift. He told me he’d been harassed by an anti-social resident on his landing, who’d banged on his front door and played loud music at all hours.
One day, finding Terry upset, Oggy went to have a word with the lad – and he’d behaved himself ever since!
‘I was so grateful,’ Terry explained. ‘Oggy didn’t want anything, so I bought him the boots to say thank you.’
I smiled, because it was so characteristic of my Oggy. He hated bullies and would step in to defend anyone who needed it.
We’d got together when I was 35 and a single mum to Louise and Tara, 16 and 11 at the time. I was the barmaid of the pub he’d come into after his work as a tiler.
But when he chatted me up, I soon realised he was more than just a man’s man. Oggy, whose real name was Aiden, was cheeky, but funny and warm-hearted as well.
He was three years younger than me, but when he moved in a few months later, he told me, ‘I realise I have responsibilities now. I’m going to up my game.’
He was true to his word. He was a hard-working family man with old-fashioned values. He’d visit his mum, Maureen, on Sunday mornings and phoned her every evening without fail.
He’d help Tara with her pony and play daft practical jokes on her at home, jumping out of cupboards to make her scream.
So when, aged 22, Tara had baby Chloe, Oggy was besotted,
I joked, ‘Spurs and your mum are the loves of your life and now I’m even further down the pecking order!’
He’d never had kids of his own, so I was amazed to see this 6ft 2in, 18st man melting over a little baby.
Hard as rock outside, but candyfloss underneath… that was Oggy.
Holidaying in Portugal one year, we were watching football in a sports bar when a man picked up a stray cat and chucked it onto the street.
Oggy squared up to him. ‘You can’t do that to an animal!’ he fumed.
He hated anyone attacking the defenceless. But I couldn’t help worrying. I’d tell him to mind his own business, terrified it would get him into trouble one day.
‘People can’t get away with doing bad things,’ he explained. To him, it was obvious. When I gave him a puppy, Lily, for his birthday, he put her on his knee and I saw tears leaking onto his cheeks.
‘I really love her,’ he sniffed. ‘Don’t tell anyone I cried.’ ‘Big softie,’ I grinned. Early one Sunday afternoon in January 2016, I picked Oggy, 60, up from his mum’s and dropped him at JJ Moon’s, a local pub, to watch the football.
‘See you about 6.30pm, love,’ he said.
‘I’ll have the roast ready,’ I told him.
I got busy preparing the veg. Oggy was never late back, so after 6pm, I had my ears out for the door.
There was a knock, but when I answered, it was the police.
‘There’s been an incident,’ an officer told me. ‘Mr O’mahony is in hospital.’
They drove me and Oggy’s
sister, Deirdre, to The Royal London Hospital so fast, my fear began to mount. Then Chloe called, distraught. ‘My friend and her dad were in the pub,’ she sobbed. ‘They said he’s been stabbed.’
When we arrived, they were still working on him.
At 7.30pm, my world ended. ‘I’m sorry to have to tell you he’s passed away,’ I heard.
Oggy had been stabbed straight through the heart, and there was nothing anyone could do to save him.
I was led to his bedside to identify him. His head was swollen and blue.
‘It’s because of the lack of oxygen,’ a medic explained.
Shock turned to a sudden rush of fury. ‘You stupid b*****d!’ I raged. ‘Don’t tell me this was about a game of effing football!’
Back home, as me and Chloe, 17, clung to one another, the police liaison officer explained that Oggy had been stabbed by 31-year-old James Roberts.
It hadn’t been a fight. Oggy hadn’t even touched the man, just told him to stop threatening the barmaid.
‘Typical,’ I sobbed. Hundreds of people came to
the funeral, where we sang, ‘Come on, you Spurs!’
I put on a brave face, but felt shredded to bits inside.
The house was so quiet without Oggy. I couldn’t believe I’d never hear him again.
Lily the dog looked at me with confused eyes. She’d wag her tail when she saw a man wearing a high-vis jacket. ‘That’s not him,’
I’d tell her sadly.
Roberts pleaded not guilty at the first trial at London’s Old Bailey and, after three harrowing weeks, the jury couldn’t reach a verdict.
Roberts said, ‘I’m so sorry,’ as he was led past, and I had to fight to stay silent. How dare he seek forgiveness from me!
Weeks later, as we buried Oggy’s ashes in Herongate Woods in Essex, I prayed for the strength to survive a second trial.
Oggy had been watching the football with his mates when Roberts rowed with his father at a nearby table.
Witnesses heard him shouting, ‘Don’t tell me how to raise my kids, it’s not like you were a great dad!’
Watching the CCTV footage from the pub, I could see that Oggy and his mates didn’t even turn their heads.
As Roberts became more and more agitated, the barmaid, Angela Sands, told him to leave.
Roberts held an object to her face, yelling, ‘Shut up, I will cut your vagina off,’ and ‘I’m going to stick this up you.’
The abuse was too much for Oggy. He intervened, saying, ‘You don’t treat a lady like that.’
That was my man. I could imagine every ghastly moment of the unfolding scene.
Roberts replied, ‘Come on, I’ll have the lot of you outside.’
He walked out, followed by his dad and Oggy, then suddenly turned, stabbing Oggy with a 4in blade. He scarpered, but returned moments later, smashing his fists through the windows and trying to barge his way back into the pub, where
Oggy lay dying. While some customers tended to him, others barricaded the doors.
Roberts left, discarding his top in a nearby park, before buying a can of drink in a chicken shop and bragging to some teenage boys about what he’d done. With his hands covered in blood, he laughed as he demonstrated a headbutting action.
His dad even returned to his table in the pub to finish his drink before leaving.
Detective Inspector Garry Moncrieff said, ‘Aiden did not know Roberts, and Roberts did not know Aiden.
‘Roberts was in a foul and aggressive mood, and decided to just take it out on anyone who he felt crossed him.
‘Aiden was being a gentleman and tried to help a member of staff who was being violently threatened.
His brave intervention unfortunately cost him his life.’
Roberts was found guilty of murder and handed a life sentence.
Our family were relieved that justice had been served, of course, but it was a hollow victory when we were all suffering so much. Maureen, 92, took to her bed when Oggy died and won’t leave it even now. Her living room is full of pictures and cat ornaments from Oggy, but she can’t bear any reminder of her cherished son. Chloe has Oggy’s football scarf and pictures of him all over her room.
As for me, I keep together for everyone else. The grief will come for me one day, I know. Half of me still wants to give Oggy a right earful for getting involved and not letting someone else sort it.
The rest of me is so proud… The man I loved for the best part of 30 years died a hero. But I would much rather he was here, snoozing in a chair beside me, where he belongs.
Georgina Fuller, 64, Hornchurch, Essex
My Oggy hated anyone attacking the defenceless
Us in the 80s, when Oggy had hair!
He’d call his mum, Maureen, every day
Roberts was found guilty of murder Chloe was distraught to hear of her Oggy’s death KILLER
Me and Lily the dog can’t believe he’s not here any more
Us with Chloe at her prom