The parents of a young man who was tragically murdered 10 years ago, are taking part in a series of lectures at London South East Colleges this month, in support of its ‘Stay Safe this Summer’ campaign.
Margaret and Barry Mizen’s son Jimmy was attacked in south east London on 10 May 2008, just one day after his 16th birthday. Jimmy and his older brother found themselves in an horrific situation inside a bakery, set upon by Jake Fahri. The altercation resulted in a glass dish being thrown at Jimmy that severed a vital blood vessel in his neck. He collapsed into his brother’s arms and later died (the same day) of his injuries.
In March 2009, Fahri (then 19) was convicted of murder and given a life sentence with a minimum tariff of 14 years. So far, he has spent 10 years of his life in prison and will not be eligible for release for a further 4 years.
In the same year, the Mizen family set up the Jimmy Mizen Foundation, later renamed ‘For Jimmy’. The charity works tirelessly to help prevent similar things happening to young people all around the UK and even abroad.
Margaret and Barry were given a very warm welcome at the Greenwich Campus this week (on Wednesday 6 June) for the first of their lectures. They talked in detail about the events that led to the murder of their son, and of the ‘earth-shattering’ news that neither will ever forget.
“Nothing in this world can prepare you for the loss of your child in this way,” said Margaret, “it is something that I wouldn’t wish on anybody.
“This year has seen many more parents, just like us, who have had to face the same shocking reality that that their son or daughter will not be coming home today - or indeed, ever again.”
Barry told the audience:“We are what you would call an ordinary family. Before this happened, we would watch and listen to the news each day and hear of these things happening to other people and think that this is just something that happens to them, not us.
"Then, the unthinkable happened. It’s hard to describe how you feel at the time; hundreds of things go through your mind before returning to the same place and you ask yourself the same questions over and over again - why us, and why Jimmy?"
After the verdict at the Old Bailey, and a significant period of having to come to terms with Jimmy’s death, the Mizens decided to honour their son by founding a charity that works with schools and colleges. Margaret and Barry travel far and wide to share Jimmy’s story and help young people become aware of how some of the most ‘trivial’ of situations can quickly become volatile and result in violence and bloodshed. They warn of the dangers of being drawn into confrontations and how to avoid them. Most of all, they talk to young people about how they can help to make their communities safer and how to get help if they are feeling threatened.
After the lecture, students returned in the afternoon to take part in a workshop held by PC Andy Hopton, a specialist firearms instructor at the Metropolitan Police. He told them about gangs, how they operate and how they draw young and impressionable people in by using ‘grooming’ techniques. Students were shown images of victims of knife and gun crime in the capital and given information about many different issues from stop and search, sentencing guidelines, self-defence, protecting themselves online and on social media, the Police’s use of tasers and much more.
Student, Kane, 17, from Greenwich attended both sessions. He said: “Today has been very educational for me. As a young person living in south London, I see all the bad headlines and wonder what I would do if I found myself in a situation like many others have recently. I think I’ve learnt a lot about staying safe and helping to keep others safe too.”
Doris, 18, from Surrey Quays, also found the sessions very helpful. She said: “I think today has changed my perception about how common and real knife, gun and gang crime is. I found the presentation by Mr and Mrs Mizen very emotional at times and I am full of respect and admiration for both. The work they do is so valuable and important.”
Leeanna Duffy is member of our Live (Student Enrichment) team based at Greenwich Campus. She said: “This visit was particularly relevant for our younger students at the College. Its aim was to address the issues of bullying and how to combat it. Jimmy’s killer had a history of bullying which eventually led to the tragic loss of a young life and the devastation it created in its wake. It was also about forgiveness, rebuilding, reaching out to others, speaking up and making a difference.”