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Family of Darwen dad killed by single punch backs campaign
IN August this year, teenage killer Terence Gaskin will be released from prison on licence.
It will be two years to the month since the boozed-up 18-year-old threw an unprovoked single punch at Darwen dad-of-four Kenneth Turnbull, aged 51.
And just over 18 months since Gaskin, formerly of Bright Street, Darwen, was jailed for manslaughter. Now he is set to regain his liberty.
But for kitchen fitter Mr Turnbull’s family and friends, that single blow in the early hours of August 11, 2008, has left them with ‘a life sentence’.
It left widow Anita, 41, their daughter Abbie, 14, and Ken’s sons Mark, 29, Andy, 26, and Oliver, 18, struggling to come to terms with their loss.
Anita said: “We’d been together for 17 years, but had been through a three-month trial separation and were on the verge of getting back together.
“We had been out for a meal and talked about moving into a bigger place.
“Ken had been out to a Northern Soul gig in Manchester, came back and went for a couple of beers and a curry with his mates.
"Then he walked home as he always liked to do, to clear his head.”
Tragically, his path crossed with drunken Gaskin on a footpath near the White Lion Pub.
When a routine police patrol came past, they found three people standing over Mr Turnbull, claiming he had collapsed.
Anita recalled: “Me and Abbie were at my house on Radford Street, Darwen.
“Ken had been living round the corner in Limes Avenue with his middle son Andy.
"When Andy woke us up knocking on the door I thought he’d just lost his key, but he said ‘it’s my dad, he’s dead’.”
Initially it was not treated as suspicious, but 24 hours later, Blackburn detectives were back on the phone to Anita, saying Gaskin had confessed to his mum, Wendy.
CCTV later showed him throwing a single punch, which caused Mr Turnbull’s brain haemorrhage.
A tearful Anita said: “When the phone goes late at work or I get a text, I think ‘oh that’ll be Ken asking what’s for tea’.
“I’ve still got texts from that day on my phone, of me asking him if he got to the gig okay. I cannot delete them because it would be like erasing him.
“His clothes are still hung up as he left them that day. I think the day you move them is the day you admit it.
“The police gave me back the clothes he died in. They are hung up in my wardrobe and I sleep with his shorts and teeshirt under my pillow. I cannot move them.
“Abbie sleeps in his cardigan – it’s little sentimental things which at the back of my mind show we’ve not forgotten him.”
Anita, who has worked at Royal Blackburn Hospital for 26 years since she left school, would always pass the morgue on her normal route into the office.
Now she goes the long way round.
One of her duties used to be processing the files for deaths, but she can no longer bear to come across a similar case to Ken’s.
“I see it here at the hospital all the time. Every weekend A&E is full of drunks with their faces smashed in or glassed.”
The ongoing ordeal has left the family strained.
“I was trying to stay strong for all four kids, but also Ken’s mum, who had lost her husband the year before and was a mess.
“Abbie has had counselling at school, she gets angry, asking ‘why my dad?’. Oliver’s the same.
“Andy and Mark went to live in Australia after the court case, just to get away from it.
“The kids have got me, but when Oliver is playing football, he just wants his dad on the sideline.”
Anita spoke about her ongoing heartache in a bid to warn other families of the fallout of a single violent act through the Consequences campaign.
She said: “If the Consequences campaign can just make one kid think before they throw a punch and stop one family felling like this, it’s worth it.
“I feel so sorry for Adam Rogers’ family. I know the pain.
“People say ‘wrong place, wrong time’, but that’s rubbish. Adam was on a night out with friends.
"Ken was just walking home to his family – he was not in the wrong place.”
Anita is bracing herself for the ‘final insult’ when Gask-in is released.
“Sentencing for manslau-ghter is atrocious. All it needs now is for him to be let out on August 11, the day Ken died, and it will be complete.
“There’s no justice. We are the ones with the life sentence.”