A Finchampstead family devastated by their son’s death are appealing for justice for new knife crime legislation.
The family of Gee Smith, who died in November 2017 on Dart Close, have been campaigning for a retrial for almost two years.
The accused, Anthony Wheaton, pleaded self-defence and was acquitted of murder and manslaughter in June last year after stabbing Gee six times.
“Everyone just feels numb. What can you do? It’s hard. We are still coming to terms with [his death],” said his cousin Maria Salter. “There’s no justice, and it’s hard to grieve and get on with your life. He’s dead, and we’ve just been left to get over it.”
Ms Salter said they were told Mr Wheaton was likely to be imprisoned either for murder or manslaughter – but, after serving two months for driving while disqualified, he walked free.
“I was at that court and heard all the evidence. We can’t understand how this has happened and will never give up the fight for him,” Ms Salter said.
“The defendant still always seems to get a better deal than the families affected.
Ms Salter added: “We love you Gee and will never stop fighting for the correct justice that should of been served.
“We still haven’t had an inquest – we were told we would have one after the court case. It feels like we are just smashing our heads off a brick wall. Everyone seems so powerless.” Ms Salter added. “His mum only has a temporary death certificate too.”
On their change.org campaign page, his relatives said: “This has destroyed a family into a million pieces.”
The family have also been petitioning to change the self-defence laws.
“Over the last 11 years, knife crime has become much worse and no-one is going to prison for it. So we are just trying to do whatever we can, but Parliament is just more interested in Brexit at the moment. It just seems so silly that the government is not taking any notice.
“The problem is much bigger than what people see.”
They would like to introduce the following legislation: “If an individual is in possession of a knife and uses that knife to harm another person, whether it be injury or death, then that individual must be held accountable for their actions and receive a judicial sentence.”
They want there to be a clear difference between an intruder breaking into a home to hurt, sexually assault or rob someone, and an altercation which breaks out between two people. Particularly, an altercation where someone picks up a knife to stab an unarmed person, causing harm or death upon the other individual.
They would like to introduce another clause whereby all families “should be able to appeal and challenge a jury’s verdict, meaning we have the rights to appeal against the outcome”.
His family and friends marked what would have been his 31st birthday on Wednesday, July 31.
To celebrate, they went to Dart Close, let off several balloons and held a barbecue in his memory.
They also try to attend a lot of festivals and workshops, and have become more involved in anti-knife crime campaigns.
Ms Salter said: “We are not the only family out there going through this, and so we want to try and get more signatures on our petition.
“It was all new to us until a little while back and now we are helping people.”
5,619 people have signed the petition to support the family’s case so far.
The family works with two other campaigns, Justice for Ryan Passey and Justice for Jordan Taylor, fighting for retrials for other young men killed through knife crime.
“It is nice to know other people know how you feel, you don’t have to express yourself,” Ms Salter explained.
But this is not a problem that’s going to go away.”
Gee’s mother Karyl said: “Not a day goes by that we don’t think of you and miss you so so much. Nearly two years down the line and we still have no justice, not even a death certificate […] Our one in a million baby boy Gee, love you to the stars and back I know you’re always with us love from Mum and Dad. Till we meet again.”
Gee’s family will be heading to Birmingham to honour Ryan Passey on Sunday, September 22.
To sign the petition visit https://www.change.org/p/high-court-justice-for-gee-smith