Murder victim Joe Walker’s devastated parents opened their hearts to the judge who will sentence their son’s killer today – describing how their lives have been ripped apart.
Inconsolable in the public gallery as their innermost feelings were aired in court, the couple told Mr Justice John Griffith Williams of their disbelief at what had happened to their beloved son Joe, who was robbed of his life at the age of just 23.
Patrick Walker said whenever he closed his eyes all he saw was thug Jimmy Connors, 17, armed with a knife.
And he revealed how Joe’s mum, Karen Foulstone, has slept in her precious son’s bed ever since his death.
Patrick said he wears his son’s clothes for work, to feel close to him. Joe would have celebrated his 24th birthday 10 days after the attack.
His unopened presents remain in his bedroom.
“It still feels unreal. We are still numb,” said Patrick.
“Even when I went to the mortuary and looked at Joe’s body I was thinking ‘this is not happening’.
“It’s such a waste.
“I miss him so much. I wear his clothes to go to work in, it gives me comfort.
“When Joe died our lives changed forever. The loss is unimaginable. Our lives have been turned upside down.
“When I close my eyes all I can see is a knife in Joe’s back. At first it was a faceless body doing it but now I see Jimmy Connors.
“I want people to learn a lesson from the path Jimmy Connors has chosen and not to carry knives.”
His grieving partner – Joe’s mum Karen Foulstone – said: “Since the loss of my son my life has fallen apart.
“There is no greater love than you have for your child.
“He was the most caring and loving person you could care to meet.
“He was always willing to help anyone – he was my best friend.
“We had a special love and a friendship that other people would crave.”
She said Joe used to spend his spare time caring for his widowed grandfather.
He would cook for him, chat to him at home and take him out for a pint.
She said the elderly man, who suffers from dementia, referred to Joe as his ‘best friend’.
He also used to regularly visit another elderly man, George, whose family lived out of the area.
George passed away shortly after Joe’s death.
She said Joe longed to eventually settle down and have a family.
“He had so many plans for the future,” she added. “I can’t explain the pain and heartache I feel. Life just seems pointless.
“When I go home there’s silence, there’s no laughing, no joking – just tears, memories and photos of happier times.
“Jimmy Connors does not know what a happy life he ended. He not only ended Joe’s life, he ended a big part of mine as well.”