Stabbed in the back

This woman killed my son. Now I’m giv­ing him a fit­ting legacy

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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.

Der­ick!

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

Wertz: nunchucks

Me with grand­son D’an­dre: we’ll work to­gether in his dad’s name...

Der­ick with son D’an­dre when he was lit­tle

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