SHEFFIELD may be classed as Britain’s safest large city but when your son’s been stabbed to death statistics don’t mean a lot.
Jackie Nicholson lost 23-year-old Brett Blake to a gang-related killing five years ago this week.
She will never get over it.
“I miss him terribly,” said Cafe owner Jackie whose son was knifed in a city centre nightclub. His friends Danny Hockenhull and Curtis Goring are serving life sentences his murder.
“I’m half-dead myself since we lost him,” said 49-year-old Jackie.
“I have let myself and my house go. I don’t go out any more socially and I used to be so house-proud but not now. I wouldn’t care if it fell down around me these days.
“Kids should not be dying like this. The statistics say that Sheffield is safe and it may well be compared to other cities but even one dead son is one is too many.”
Jackie has always objected to her son’s death being labelled as ‘gang related violence’ as it was in court.
“I don’t believe in their heart of hearts they wanted to kill him, it was just foolish pride and street cred.
“They have done all that for a show in a nightclub in front of their mates and the girls but I bet not one of them visits them in prison. It’s their families that have to pick up the pieces, they are the ones that really care about them.
“They weren’t in gangs as I understand it. Gangs are organised criminals these were just chaotic youngsters. They made up the S3 name when they were in their early teens, it was a joke based on stuff they had seen on TV.
“They would get into fights but only fist fights. There were gangs when I was at school between Hind House and Earl Marshall would fight each other but there were no guns or knives. “Something has changed in that they are prepared to use weapons to seriously hurt each other now. We have to deal with that as a society and not just label them as ‘gangs’ and blame them for it all.
“For a lot of black, white and Asian kids it’s all about what you wear, who you like and how many girlfriends you have. It’s all about street credibility rather than who you are or any achievement.Face value and credibility. That’s what they are prepared to kill and die for and all the girls love a bad boy. They fight to be with them so it all carries on again.
“They are living in a dream world. It’s not as though they are making millions from selling drugs or anything, they have nothing, just this stupid, daft lifestyle.
“If they were making big money you could understand it. But they weren’t. Brett and all the other kids who have died have lost their lives over nothing but pride.
“They weren’t a real gang, just a group of kids that grew up with each other and looked after each other. Though there were issues with a group of lads who broke away and started calling themselves S4.”
But Jackie hit out at those who are quick to blame family and upbringing for the growth of violence though Brett’s murder was almost a case of history repeating itself - after his own father survived an assassination attempt 20 years earlier.
Patrick “Blue Eyes” Blake was gunned down outside a notorious Sheffield nightspot in Burngreave, in a pre-planned attempt on his life in January 1990. But he survived, blinded in one eye.
Jackie believes she and her family did their best to bring up her three children the best way they could.
“I was a good mum to my three kids,” said Jackie.
“I was a single mum and I brought them up on my own but they never wanted for anything. They had a cooked meal every day. It’s not like they were dragged up, they were surrounded by love and they had good role models in both sets of grandparents who were hard-working people, my dad worked was a steel worker.
“We all did our best. In court they blamed the upbringing of the lads who killed Brett when they were in court but they were all brought up with love and affection. Something has gone very wrong in society.”