A mum who forgave her son’s killer: ‘I pray that God will change his life’
Paul Warwick tells a powerful story of forgiveness (all names and some details have been changed to protect identities)
Pam’s son Steven was murdered in a cold blooded, mafia-style execution. Steven, who was in his twenties, was killed when a gunman shot him in the head at point blank range. The murder was witnessed by others, including two children aged 5 and 7.
And in his dying moments as a young woman tried to help him, Steven said. “Please go and get my mum.”
Those were his last words.
Pam says: “It was a Tuesday. I had a week off work as I worked as a nurse. And I had been shopping for my auntie. And as I came down the hill I heard an ambulance and a helicopter and I thought, oh no, what’s happened now?
“About half an hour later Steven’s cousin knocked on my auntie’s door and she said to me. ‘Steven’s gone’. And I went, ‘what do you mean he’s gone?’ And she just said, ‘he’s gone’. And I said, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about’.
“There was a policewoman and policeman standing at the door as well. And I said, ‘I dunno what you’re talking about. Gone where?’ And I thought, ‘is he in trouble or something like that?’ And the policewoman said, ‘He’s dead’. And I went, ‘No, Steven’s not dead. There’s no way my son’s dead’. But he was.”
Pam added, “I’m not ashamed to say this. Growing up where we did and knowing that I’d lived there nearly all my life, I thought this just doesn’t happen around us. This happens to other people. And all I remember is I was walking up and down the passage and in my head it was like someone was hitting my head on a brick wall. And I thought, no, this is a joke. This is a dream. I’m gonna wake up. But the reality was I didn’t wake up. It was true. I was numb. Just numb.
“My brothers don’t live near me. And I thought, ‘You’re on your own here, girl. What you gonna do?’ And I believed in God. I was baptised in church, but I did stray. And I did walk away.
“I was working as a nurse and care assistant. And I just sat down and thought, you look after people with mental problems, people that are dying with diseases, and there’s nothing wrong with your son, he was healthy and he’s gone. And I thought, why … why? And I really did struggle. I really did struggle.
“At the evening I tried to go down there, because I just wanted to get Steven. I wanted to bring him home. I thought, that’s not his home. He didn’t live there. In my mind I was still thinking, ‘he’s not gone. He’s not gone. There’s no way God could give me two boys and leave me to bring up two children on my own and take one away.’
“I was really, really struggling and I remember going down there and it was about 11 o’clock at night. And I remember that a policeman approached me and said, ‘Sorry you can’t go there’. And I said, ‘why not?’ And he said, ‘because there’s been a murder’, and I said, ‘yes and I’m the mother.’
“And I can remember looking at that policeman and he had tears in his eyes. And I said, ‘please just let me go and get him. Just let me take him home.’ And he said, ‘we can’t because they’re doing forensic tests.’ And I stayed there and stayed there. And I just saw them carrying him out in a black body bag.
“I couldn’t go and see Steven for three days. And when I went to see him there was a glass screen. They brought him out on a stretcher and I asked them to take the screen away and they said they can’t. And the police officers from Trident were there, and I turned around and the Trident officers were crying too. There was a lot of people there crying.
“I remember I was holding my stomach and I’ve never cried as much as I cried that day. And they did take the screen away and I went to go up to him. And out of his right eye a tear came down. And I just said to him, ‘Baby I tried to come. I really did try to come, but I couldn’t come’.
“And yeah, it was so painful.”
Within a week of Steven’s murder, his brother was imprisoned, so now Pam had one son in the morgue and one son in prison. The pressure of it all caused one member of Pam’s close family to have a stroke, and 19 years later he’s still paralysed on one side of his body, while another had a breakdown, ended up in a psychiatric hospital and passed away not long afterwards.
Steven’s murder affected so many people. And to this day people still don’t really know why it happened. The person who killed him didn’t speak in court or give any explanation. And Pam said that there were numerous rumours. Some people said it was over drugs. Some people said it was over a girl. But no-one knew what the real reason was.
Shortly after Steven was killed, Pam moved to another area, and says “I said, ‘Lord, if you want me to be here, show me a sign’. I looked out of the window, saw the cross and I said, ‘this is where you want me to be’.”
There is a church directly across the road from Pam’s flat. And that’s the church she started to attend and still does to this day.
Pam added “And when I look at it, I see that God picked me up. He carried me all the way, because I didn’t have a nervous breakdown. I was 10 stone and went down to eight stone. I always knew I was strong, in a certain way. I can do certain things, but God showed me how much he loved me, how much he carried me, but I hadn’t noticed. He’s done so much in my life.”
Steven’s killer is due to be released soon and Pam says “I have completely forgiven him. Because none of us know, could my son do this? Could my daughter do this? We like to think, well - no.”
And she added about Steven’s killer: “I’ve always prayed for him. I pray that God will change his life. I pray, 'God touch this young man’s heart. Lead him on the right path. Because only you can do it'.”
Photo: Emma Fabbri, unsplash.com