Knife Crime: West Midlands

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 11:00 am on 14 March 2023.

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Photo of Suzanne Webb Suzanne Webb Conservative, Stourbridge 11:00, 14 March 2023

I beg to move,

That this House
has considered the matter of knife crime in the West Midlands.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Dame Caroline. I want to tell you about Ryan Passey. Ryan was aged only 24 when he died from a single fatal stab wound to the heart during a night out at Chicago’s club in Stourbridge in 2017. Six months later, a jury heard Kobe Murray, who was 19 at the time, admit to stabbing an unarmed Ryan through the heart during a dancefloor brawl. This shook the community to the core. Following what is known as a perverse verdict, Kobe Murray walked free from court acquitted of both murder and manslaughter. The verdict shocked Ryan’s devasted family, his friends and the community. We can only imagine the anguish of losing a child in such a manner and the perpetrator walking free.

Knife crime has touched our community in an unimaginable way, and that was compounded by news of another shocking death—that of Cody Fisher, who was stabbed and killed in a Birmingham nightclub on Boxing day last year. A more recent death is that of Bailey Atkinson. On Sunday morning, as I was putting the finishing touches to my speech, I was shocked to hear of yet another fatal stabbing—that of Akeem Francis-Kerr in a local Walsall nightclub. I am led to believe that there was yet another yesterday, and that, last night, there was a machete attack in Walsall. These are lives needlessly lost, and the families are now in torment.

If I may, Dame Caroline, I will read a statement from the Passey family about the loss of their son to knife crime:

“Ryan was an amazing, bubbly 24-year-old who loved football, his family, friends, and life.

On the 6th of August 2017 our whole world was shattered when on a night out with his best friend, Ryan was stabbed through his heart inside a busy nightclub in Stourbridge and died shortly later at Queen Elizabeth hospital in Birmingham.

In February 2018 at Birmingham Crown Court, his killer, who admitted to stabbing Ryan, was unbelievably acquitted of both his murder and manslaughter—claiming he had acted in self-defence and accidentally stabbed Ryan. Kobe walked free from court without any punishment.

The Acquittal verdict for our family caused us double trauma. It was as though Ryan had been murdered twice.

The past 5 years continue to be traumatic for us all and we have not been able to grieve properly for Ryan. No family should have to go through what we are experiencing. We continue to suffer daily following the loss of our only child. His sudden death leaves our lives empty and always wondering, what may have been?

The impact on our lives is immeasurable.”

Dame Caroline, we can only imagine what it must feel like to have watched your child go out for a night only to be told hours later that they were never coming home. The escalating horror of knife crime is all too real, and West Midlands police recorded the highest rate of knife crime in England and Wales over the past year.