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Weapons warning by Todmorden knife victim's sister
A WOMAN whose life was turned upside down when her brother was murdered is urging youngsters to think twice about carrying a weapon.
Melissa MacFarlan has joined forces with police to visit schools to share the story of her eldest brother Marvin Whitehead, 28, who was killed in a frenzied attack in 2002.
The mother-of-five hopes the stark facts surrounding how killer Jeffrey Laycock is now serving a life sentence for stabbing Marvin 18 times during a drink and drugs binge, will persuade others to hand over their weapons.
Melissa, 31, was just 18-years-old when the murder in Todmorden took place, and says said what happened that night changed her family forever.
She said: “I remember the police coming around and breaking the news of Marvin’s death. I was just numb it has been so difficult to comprehend.
“Marvin was a gentle sole who had never hurt anybody, so to lose him in this way was devastating.
“I believe the heartache killed my father.
“I have always been searching for the reason why this happened. I even contacted Laycock in prison.
“He wrote to me admitting he didn’t know why it had happened and that he had been paranoid because he had taken drugs.
“It’s clear to me now that I will never get a satisfactory reason I have been searching for.”
The online lingerie seller is backing a police amnesty offering people the chance to hand over weapons, including knives and guns, without any recriminations, and recently met pupils at St Wilfrid’s Church of England Academy.
Melissa, of Shorrock Lane, Blackburn, said: “I think a lot of young people are misguided and are carrying weapons to ‘protect’ themselves.
“But what they don’t realise is that they are actually putting themselves at risk.
“Carrying a weapon and using it in the heat of the moment does not only change your life and the victim’s life but also the lives of the wider families involved.
“I want people to hear my family’s story and use it as a warning.”
Three years ago another of Melissa’s brothers, Curtis, was involved in a stabbing.
The 26-year-old, who had been carrying a knife, stabbed his friend at a party in Mill Hill before being stabbed himself.
Both Curtis and his friend ended up in intensive care at the Royal Blackburn Hospital fighting for life.
Melissa said: “When we discovered what had happened with Curtis, we literally couldn’t believe lightning could strike twice.
“Luckily, Curtis and the other man survived but it goes to show how dangerous carrying a weapon can be.
“I urge anyone who even considers carrying a knife to think, how would you feel if it was your brother or sister who died?”
Marvin, of Revidge Road, Blackburn had been working for a fruit and vegetable grocer in Todmorden when he died. During the trial at Leeds Crown Court, a jury heard Laycock, now 44, took two hours to call for an ambulance because he was trying to cover his tracks.
South East Blackburn police are holding a weapons amnesty in the summer.