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Colchester: Call for ‘robust’ punishments for gun and knife criminals

PUBLISHED: 18:32 25 September 2012

Ann Oakes-Odger

Ann Oakes-Odger

THE legal system must hand out robust sentences and send a clear message to criminals who use weapons, a leading Essex knife crime campaigner has said.

Ann Oakes-Odger was speaking out after a fourth serious incident in Colchester involving knives or guns in the space of a fortnight.

Police were called to Tynedale Square in the Highwoods area of the town at 9.25pm on Monday following reports of a disturbance.

Officers arrived to find a man, aged about 20, with multiple stab wounds. He was taken to Colchester general Hospital for treatment and an ambulance service spokeswoman said his injuries were not life-threatening

Three men, aged 40, 37 and 22, were arrested along with a 28-year-old woman, all from the Colchester area. The quartet were arrested on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm and remain in custody today while enquiries continue.

Monday night’s drama follows on from the tragic murder of Jay Whiston on September 8, a shooting incident outside a Queen Street nightclub on September 13 and another firearms drama in the Tippett Close last Thursday.

Ms Oakes-Odger’s son Westley was stabbed to death in Colchester on September 12 2005. Two brothers were jailed over the killing and Ms Oakes-Odger has dedicated her life to helping others and tackling the growing problem of knife crime.

She said it was so easy for people to become complacent about the consequences of carrying knives and guns and called for anyone caught in possession of weapons to be dealt with firmly by the courts.

She said: “We really need to push home the message that once you take any weapon or a knife from your home it is a dangerous weapon, likely to take a life and possibly your own.

“Anyone that is found to be in possession of a knife has to face robust sentences and consequences.”

Ms Oakes-Odger, who runs Knife Crimes.Org, said any stabbing brought back the painful memory of Westley’s murder, more than seven years ago.

“We have seen that awful situation recently,” she said. “Let’s get this message out there; we don’t want people to be suffering a loss or serious injury.

“It doesn’t make me angry, it makes me very sad to think that another family is going through the grief that goes with someone being taken through an act of violence.”

Tim Young, Colchester Borough Council’s portfolio holder for community safety, said the town was a safe place to live and reiterated that the recent crimes were isolated incidents.

He said: “It is a bit disturbing that they have all come together in a short space of time. All of the statistics show that Colchester is a safe town in a very safe county but it would be wrong of us not to look at these incidents and see if there is some sort of very worrying trend coming to the surface. We’re doing everything we can to get the message across that of people are caught with knives or guns that they will be dealt with very severely.”

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