OPINION: Closure but no winners

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Yesterday a jury took next to no time at all to reach the decision to find a teenage boy guilty of deliberately murdering a young man with a knife.

Joe Walker was just 23 years old, and yet we have heard how his killer plunged the knife into his young victim, before dancing around deliriously.

Almost immediately the social networks were filled with calls for capital punishment to be reinstated, as is so often the case in these such instances.

A quick Twitter search will return instances of some people declaring victorious exclamations triggered by the guilty verdict that was returned to the courtroom.

But there is no winner, here. Joe Walker is dead. During my ‘Meet the Editor’ day last Friday I was touched by how many people knew Joe, and spoke highly of him. But Joe will never know what people thought of him.

Now Jimmy Connors’ life is all but over: he threw away the best years of his life when he knifed a young man to death. Quite why he did it, only he knows.

And so one family has lost a loved one to the grave, another to the big house. Connors’ family can watch their son grow up, albeit from behind bars. Joe’s family will see only weeds grow around their boy’s grave. The pain in their hearts I cannot begin to fathom, and no one would blame them for harbouring the most hateful of emotions towards Joe’s killer.

Yet in the midst of this most traumatic of events Joe’s dad Patrick issued a plea that could represent the only possible positive to come from this sad chapter in Sheffield’s history. He implored anyone who has or regularly does carry a knife about their person to hand it in.

He and Joe’s mum Karen described how their lives had been torn apart by Connors’ callous act, and urged others to avoid inflicting the kind of pain and anguish done unto their family by choosing the right path – the path where knives are thrown down. I and The Star support this.