Saturday, October 23, 2021
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Protect your children, take their phones away, say parents of teenager murdered in Snapchat plot

The younger boy, who fatally stabbed Olly with a knife, was handed a life sentence with a minimum term of 13 years.

The older boy, who had fought with the victim in the attack, was given a life sentence with a minimum term of 12 years.

The girl, who admitted manslaughter and did not stand trial, was sentenced to three years and two months.

Jurors were told Olly’s attackers had shared hostile messages about him on Snapchat in the days leading up to his death.

In one message to one of her fellow defendants, the girl said: “Karma – he (Olly) deserves all of this.”

The older boy also said: “I actually hate the kid with a passion – if I was to see him right now I’d probably end up killing him.”

‘There is a cancer in our children’s lives’

Following the sentencing hearing, Mr Stephens said: “I think social media’s got a lot to answer for and played a massive part in Olly’s death.

“There needs to be traceability on (social media) accounts, it needs to be linked to a credit card or something so you can find out who’s using it. Some of the bile I’ve read is staggering.”

Speaking outside court, Mr Stephens said: “There is a cancer in our children’s lives, it starts with the use of a mobile phone, with apps that are provided to entertain but are used to spread slander, hatred, misinformation and bile and ends in cruel, cold-blooded murder.

“Olly is not the only victim, there have been far too many already.”

He continued: “If it was up to me, no child under 16 would have a mobile phone – children deserve a care-free and happy childhood, not to spend it cowering in their bedrooms, terrified and contemplating suicide because they are made to feel worthless by some random, spineless individual hiding behind a screen.”

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Mr Stephens also called for a licence for the purchasing of knives, saying: “In an immature child’s hand, a knife is as lethal as a firearm.”

The detective leading the investigation described the case as “one of the most shocking” of his career.

Speaking outside court, Detective Chief Constable Andy Howard said: “No parent should have to endure the horror of their child dying in this way and then have to listen to detailed evidence of Olly’s final moments along with shocking revelations of the determined plan by those involved to ambush Olly and then attack him.”

Himself a father to a teenage boy, DCC Howard said social media played a crucial role in building a case against the three teenage perpetrators but that speculation online had risked scuppering attempts to bring the 13-year-old’s young killers to justice.

‘Gangster mentality is seeping in’

Mr Stephens described his son’s killing as “absolutely cold”.

“There was no thought for anybody else in this. There’s no thought for Olly’s life, there was no thought for the repercussions of what was going to happen,” he said. “And the consequences they were going to pay just didn’t seem to register with them.”

Mr Stephens recalled how he detected Olly was troubled by something in the days prior to his murder, and pleaded with his son to confide in him.

“I just couldn’t get it out of him – ‘Snitches get stitches’ is all he’d say,” said Mr Stephens, adding: “There seems this whole gangster mentality is seeping in … like they believe this is a video game. That’s how they see it, because I have heard that they now earn points for damage they do to other people with weapons.”

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Olly’s mother added: “We’re broken. You know you’ve got to keep going and you do keep going, but the joy is gone.”

Mrs Stephens said she had “no idea” at the time how badly her son was being treated by others.

She said: “Keep asking questions, be suspicious, try not to be put off – you get batted away by your children, when you ask questions you don’t get answers. If you don’t like the sound of friends, there probably is a very good reason why.”


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