Murder victim's mum - 'Knife crime can happen to anyone'
PUBLISHED: 11:30 13 February 2019 | UPDATED: 15:38 13 February 2019
Nothing has changed in the six years since my son was stabbed to death.
Those are the words of Ellie Ingram whose 26-year-old musician son, Thomas Brittain, was murdered in Colchester in March 2013.
The brave mum has decided to speak out for the first time following two stabbings in Colchester, one fatal, in the space of 24 hours on Sunday night and Monday morning.
She said: “My son’s six year death anniversary is approaching and yet this senseless killing is still going on.
“Has anything been learnt from the deaths in the past? I feel that nothing has changed since Tom’s murder in 2013.
“Nothing can bring my son back, but what is being done to stop other mothers having the same tragic news that I had to receive that your child has been stabbed to death?”
She added: “Tom died in 2013. It’s now 2019 and it’s still happening today.
“What angers me the most is that these lads have taken away my son and I have to learn to live with that.
“I wish I had the answer to this problem but I don’t.
“Knife crime can happen to anyone. No-one is immune to it.”
Tom, who was also known as Twister in the music world, was at a friend’s flat in Parkside Quarter when two men broke in brandishing a knife and a handgun on March 9, 2013.
He was assaulted and stabbed. His friends inside the flat managed to escape by locking themselves in another room with their children.
Tom’s friends called the emergency services but he died at the scene from a stab wound to the chest.
Two men were subsequently jailed for their parts in Tom’s murder.
Ellie, 57, who brought her children up in Clacton, said: “When I got the call to say that Tom had died, I didn’t know where to go or what to do.
“It’s like being hit by a truck. Everything stopped. I couldn’t even speak.
“I never took any medication before Tom died and now I take it daily. I couldn’t taste or feel anything. I was numb.
“It’s like your whole body is out of sync with the world.”
Ellie, who moved away from north Essex after Tom’s death, said her son shone in anything, whether it was physical or artistic. He even received a Blue Peter badge for making a robot.
After leaving school, he went to Colchester Institute to study for a diploma in music technology.
“He found his vocation in life at college and music technology was his thing,” she added. “I always thought of it as a hobby but someone said to me after he died that I didn’t realise how talented he was, and it’s true, I didn’t.
“As an adult, he was trying to make it in the music industry. What a lot of people don’t know is that just days before he died, he went for an interview with Universal in London for a job as a music producer.
“Universal contacted Essex Police to tell me that Tom would have got the job.
“It’s tragic. I look at the big artists these days and you know how hard these people work to make it.
“And Tom was on the verge of it but it was cruelly snatched away.”
Ellie said Tom regretted not learning to read or write music and that is something the family are thinking of setting up an organisation for in his memory.
To cope with Tom’s death, Ellie has been working with Victim Support and Child Bereavement UK to support mothers bereaved by murder for three years.
“There is a model we use to help bereaved mums where you have grief and that never gets smaller, but you have to build a life around it which becomes bigger than the pain,” she said. “I have had to take a break from this to address my own delayed PTSD but anything in the news like the Colchester fatal stabbing over the weekend, just takes me right back to the start.
“It’s been nearly six years since Tom was killed and I haven’t cried for him.
“I take each day at a time and I’m very thankful for small pleasures.”
After the breakdown of her marriage when Tom was 15, Ellie received a large sum of money and decided to take her sons on a round the world trip.
“There are moments in life when you don’t know if you are doing the right thing,” she said. “But the boys needed to know there more to life so I took them on the trip of a lifetime.
“I’m so thankful I did because it meant Tom saw the world and lived a great life before it was cut short.”
What is Essex Police doing to tackle knife crime?
Detective Superintendent Leighton Hammett said: “We understand, particularly in light of the tragic event in Colchester on Monday, that people have concerns about knife crime in Colchester.
“Tackling knife crime is a priority both in Essex and nationally. Sadly up and down the country, police forces and communities are seeing the tragic consequences of this offence.
“Following the murder in our town on Monday, our specialist detectives are working around the clock to bring those responsible to justice.
“We have increased patrols in the town centre to provide extra reassurance and every day our officers in Colchester and the wider county. We are working with our partners to prevent and tackle incidents involving knives and other weapons.
“But this is not a crime that will be solved by policing alone and that why we’re working with our partners in the local authority and in education to raise awareness of the consequences of carrying a knife.
“Our Community Policing Team has recently been involved in a dedicated operation to educate students about knife and gang crime.
“We continue to work closely with the Only Cowards Carry charity and we have a number of knife amnesty bins in the borough to enable people to hand over their weapons safely before they can cause harm.
“We continue to carry out intelligence led patrols and operations targeting those carrying weapons.
“However we need the community’s help to tackle this issue, we need people to give us information when crimes happen, we need people to tell us if there are those carrying or using weapons in your community and we need people to continue to support us to raise awareness of the tragic consequences carrying a blade can have.
“We would urge anyone with information about the murder to contact North Major Crime on 101 quoting incident 208 of 11/02 or you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”
Two men, Jack Hummerstone and Andre Vella, were jailed for their parts in Tom’s murder.
Hummerstone, of no fixed address, was found guilty of murder and GBH with intent following a three-week trial in September 2013. He was sentenced to life in prison to serve a minimum of 26 years.
He was also sentenced to five years to run concurrently for the GBH with intent as well as six years for possession of an imitation firearm with intent to commit a criminal offence and 10 years for aggravated burglary, to also run concurrently. He had previously admitted those offences.
Vella, from Kirby Cross, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for aggravated burglary; a charge he was found guilty of following the Chelmsford Crown Court trial.
He was also sentenced to six years to run concurrently for possession of an imitation firearm with intent to commit a criminal offence; a charged he admitted.