On December 21st 2001 Bradley Knight and his friend Peter Mathias were celebrating Christmas with a night out. It was to end in the brutal murder of Bradley, the wounding of Peter and the devastation of an entire family.
Elsewhere in Waltham Cross, Daniel Jethoo was in a pub and alleged that he was being racially abused. He was angry at the abuse and left the pub. He returned home and collected a 2ft samurai sword, which he had bought around six months earlier. He met Bradley, of Hoddesdon, and Peter, of Hillingdon, neither of whom had been involved in the earlier racial incident, or had ever seen or spoken with him before, when he returned to the town with the weapon
Bradley, a keen rugby player tried to walk away, at one point even going into a shop hoping that Jethoo would have left. However he was waiting outside and began slashing Bradley and repeatedly kicked and spat on his body before stabbing him through the chest. Despite medical efforts he died later in hospital. Peter tried to help but was also attacked and seriously injured.
Jethoo from North London was found guilty of the manslaughter of Bradley by reason of provocation. The court had heard how Jethoo had been racially abused in the Happy Pig pub in Waltham Cross. On sentencing, Judge Findlay Baker said Jethoo had committed a terrible crime and must pay for what he did. He said as he jailed Jethoo that racial harassment could have a corrosive effect on a young man's self restraint but that could not justify what had happened. He added that the impact of the attack had turned Mr Matthias into a shadow of his former self.
He was then given just nine years sentence in a young offenders' institution with a concurrent six-year sentence for wounding Peter. Bradley’s parents Sally and Peter, and their family believe that the sentence was wrong. By going home and returning with the sword Jethoo committed pre-meditated murder and should have been given a life sentence.
Sally and Peter asked that a knife amnesty be launched in the Hertfordshire area to which the police readily agreed.
Police stations across the county will house secure disposal bins where people can get rid of lethal weapons without fear of prosecution providing they are taking the item for disposal.
Speaking at a press conference attended by Mr Knight's family, Chief Inspector Nigel Brown of Hertfordshire police said: "The knife amnesty was launched in a bid to prevent another tragic death or serious injury.
"Every police station in Hertfordshire had collection points for weapons."
Mr Brown said: "We asked anyone who had in their possession a knife or any other offensive weapon to hand it in whether it was at home, in business premises or carried around with them. We particularly wanted to encourage concerned parents or guardians of young people to bring in any weapons their children posses or have access to." Between April 2001 and March 2002, there were 309 incidents involving bladed weapons in the county.
The amnesty organised by Bradley’s family prompted MAMAA to hold a knife amnesty in London following the deaths of five young men within a mile of each other during the course of one year. A march was organised and flowers laid where each of the victims had died, it took place on the 10th anniversary of the death of Richard Everitt and ended with a public forum and vigil where Richard was murdered. Bradley’s family helped and supported MAMAA with that campaign. Sally and Peter have worked hard to help other young people and have organised rugby matches in memory of their ‘beautiful son’ The money raised has been donated to help youth rugby teams, the Spinal Injuries Association and to keep the MAMAA telephone help-line open.
In January 2005, The Home Office set up a Round Table Committee on Knife Crime, many community leaders and police officers from various forces are working together to try to find a way to stop the violence from escalating. Peter and Sally Knight are part of that team and have a valuable input to the work that is being done to prevent others having to suffer as they have.
After the success of the knife amnesty’s MAMAA wrote to all the UK police forces to ask for a month long national weapons amnesty to highlight the increasing number of young people that were being murdered throughout the country, many of them in totally unprovoked attacks.
See CAMPAIGNS for details of gun amnesty
MAMAA would like to thank Sally and Peter for their ongoing support