Mother of boy stabbed to death calls for change in UK law

Jean Morris still watches her front door every afternoon hoping to see the “sassy little face” of her youngest son, Dea-John Reid, walk through it.

It has been more than a year since Dea-John, 14, was chased by a group of white men and boys shouting racial slurs and stabbed near a park in Birmingham. But his hope that he will open that door again has continued.

“He never came home and to this day I’m still looking for Dea-John to come over,” Morris said. “I know I buried him, I know Dea-John died, but I’m still waiting for him to come home.”

The 15-year-old who stabbed him in the chest was acquitted of murder but convicted of involuntary manslaughter in May. All of the remaining men and boys in the group – George Khan, 38, Michael Shields, 35, 16, and 15 – were acquitted.

For Morris, the verdict has only made it harder to come to terms with his death. “I need justice for my son,” he said. “If that’s involuntary manslaughter, what is murder?”

She believes the ethnic makeup of the jury led to acquittals for murder and subsequent lenient sentencing for the killer and calls for a change in the law to ensure juries better reflect the community they serve.

Despite the fact that only 57% of the people in Birmingham are white, 11 of the jurors were white and one was from South Asia.

Morris had to watch security cameras from the last 90 minutes of Dea-John’s life at the Birmingham Crown Court trial in May. Three white teenagers could be seen getting out of a car and chasing Dea-John in her final moments, before she gasped and stopped, allowing a 15-year-old boy to stick a knife in her. the chest.

She is outraged by the jury’s response. “I don’t know what the jury was looking at,” she said, “I just can’t figure it out.

“Let that jury sit there and say this is involuntary manslaughter. They showed me racism right there.”

A national march for racial justice will begin this Saturday at 1pm in Kingstanding, where he was killed.

Morris says that if the circumstances were reversed, if the boy stabbed to death was white and the attacker black, the verdict “would be different”. If Dea-John had been the one holding the knife, he said, he “would have been charged with murder.”

Prosecutor Richard Wormald QC told the jury that the group of five had behaved “like a pack chasing their prey” on the night of May 31 last year.

Dea-John was pursued in a “revenge attack” for an incident earlier in the day. The group he was with was accused of trying to steal an Armani bag from a friend of the killer.

Morris knows that his only chance to appeal against the not guilty verdict of all those accused of pursuing Dea-John is if someone presents new evidence.

She wants the public to come forward if they have more information. She said, “Don’t keep it a secret, say something and don’t let anything happen to the next mom like me.”

Throughout the trial, Morris was convinced that all five would be convicted. “I thought they were going to fall,” he said.

The shock of the verdict was physical. “I felt like I would just put my hands on my head and keep running, running, running, having no idea where I was going,” she said.

The 15-year-old who killed Dea-John, whose name cannot be identified for legal reasons, was sentenced to six and a half years in prison, meaning he is likely to be released in just over two years.

When sentencing him, Judge Johnson said: “If an adult did what you did, it would almost certainly be murder and he would be sentenced to life in prison.”

The case is in stark contrast to the convictions of four black teenagers from North Manchester earlier this month for conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm. The young men were each jailed for eight years for participating in a group chat a few days after the murder of one of their friends.

Commenting on the two verdicts, Bishop Desmond Jaddoo, a community activist representing Dea-John’s family, said: “In the Manchester case, no one was killed, no one was physically pursued, no one called anyone with An N-word, you black bastard, hit it. But all were found guilty. This happened in broad daylight.”

The last time Morris saw his son on the day of his death, he promised to do his hair that night, but he never came home.

Her killer’s sentence has only increased her pain. “When I sit back and think about Dea-John, this guy turned 6 1/2 and he’s only going to be 2 1/2 and he’s coming out again.

“[His mother] I can see him grow up and even give him grandchildren, but when I want to see Dea-John I have to go to the cemetery. This is heartbreaking”.

On Saturday, Morris will march for justice for her son dressed in purple, her favorite color. She wants a change in the system on her behalf.

She said: “I know justice cannot bring Dea-John back, but at least his name would live on.”

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