How vile social media stole our son’s life: Olly Stephens, 13, went to a park and by no means got here again

Fifteen minutes was all it took for all times as Amanda and Stuart Stephens knew it to be modified for ever. At 3.33pm on January 3, their 13-year-old son Olly left their Berkshire house and headed to the park throughout the street to fulfill a lady the identical age.

‘He had left saying, “Don’t fear, Mum, love you,” and off he went,’ recalled Amanda.

So when there was a knock on the door quarter of an hour later she assumed it was the pair of them coming again.

However when she opened it, her son wasn’t there – only a boy he knew.

‘Olly has been stabbed,’ he advised her.

Amanda ran, shouting those self same 4, horrible phrases to her husband.

Olly had been lured to the park in a fastidiously deliberate ambush. Decide Heather Norton thanked Olly’s dad and mom for his or her quiet dignity in court docket, which she described as humbling

Stuart Stephens, the father of Olly Stephens, reads a statement outside Reading Crown Court

Stuart Stephens, the daddy of Olly Stephens, reads a press release outdoors Studying Crown Court docket

‘Stuart ran out with out his footwear on, over to the sector,’ the 52-year-old stated. ‘And once I bought there he simply fell to his knees and he was screaming, “My boy, my boy” – and I seemed over and Olly was simply fully lifeless.’

Stuart’s reminiscences of that second are heart-breaking. ‘I wished to be close to him,’ he stated. ‘I ran over to the sector and there was a crowd of individuals surrounding Olly and I simply bear in mind the faces – everybody turning and taking a look at me and the horror simply written on their faces.

‘I used to be kneeling in his blood, so I knew he had misplaced a variety of blood. As soon as I held his hand I knew he had gone.

‘Fifteen minutes earlier than he was completely happy, laughing, joking,’ the 51-year-old added. ‘He had no thought what he was strolling into. They’re kids. You don’t count on kids to try this.’

Olly had been lured to the park in a fastidiously deliberate ambush.

The ‘crafty and manipulative’ lady was a part of it, watching as he was attacked by two boys aged 13 and 14.

At some stage the youthful little one, who due to his age can solely be recognized as Boy A, drew a knife and stabbed Olly twice.

As he collapsed, onlookers rushed to assist. However regardless of the efforts of paramedics and an air ambulance crew, he was pronounced lifeless within the park.

CCTV image issued by Thames Valley Police dated 3/1/2021 of Olly Stephens walking in Emmer Green

CCTV picture issued by Thames Valley Police dated 3/1/2021 of Olly Stephens strolling in Emmer Inexperienced

Yesterday at Studying Crown Court docket his killers – all three of whom at the moment are 14 – have been detained for a complete of 28 years. Boy A and Boy B had been convicted of homicide earlier. They obtained life sentences with minimal phrases of 13 and 12 years respectively.

The lady had pleaded responsible to manslaughter and was sentenced to a few years and two months in custody.

Decide Heather Norton thanked Olly’s dad and mom for his or her quiet dignity in court docket, which she described as humbling.

‘I do know the sentences I’m about to present to those defendants will appear to you to be unbearably quick,’ she advised them. ‘For the defendants’ households, they may appear unbearably lengthy. They’re under no circumstances a mirrored image of the price of Olly. I do know for you he’s priceless.’

For the Stephens household that isn’t the tip of the matter. Their one hope is that no different household endures their agony. As Amanda says: ‘We’re damaged.’

They’re notably offended in regards to the position social media performed in Olly’s demise.

He was threatened on Snapchat, whereas on Instagram his killers posed and posted gang-related imagery.

Investigators at a forensic tent in Bugs Bottom field, Emmer Green, in Reading following the horrific ambush

Investigators at a forensic tent in Bugs Backside discipline, Emmer Inexperienced, in Studying following the horrific ambush

For the Stephens family that is not the end of the matter. They are particularly angry about the role social media played in Olly’s death

For the Stephens household that isn’t the tip of the matter. They’re notably offended in regards to the position social media performed in Olly’s demise

‘It’s a loopy scenario,’ says Stuart. ‘You’ve gotten corporations based mostly in San Francisco harvesting your kids’s knowledge and making some huge cash out of it and but when a baby dies they don’t seem to be held accountable.

‘The one analogy I’ve for it’s in case you are a automobile producer and also you make a automobile and it has a defective petrol tank or has defective brakes and folks die due to that, you might be up in court docket, you might be held to account. With social media nobody is held to account and that to me is a giant drawback as a result of our youngsters are utilizing these instruments to threaten, hurt and kill one another.’

Raised together with his older teenage sister in a quiet cul-de-sac in Emmer Inexperienced, Studying, Olly loved a contented, middle-class childhood. He was eager on snowboarding, fishing and notably rugby, which he watched together with his father at London Irish RUFC, the place, at seven, he was the crew’s mascot.

All the time energetic, something he approached he did so whole-heartedly.

‘For 1 / 4 of the household he was 80 per cent of the leisure,’ his father recalled this week as, seated beside his spouse, they gave their first media interviews forward of the sentencing listening to. ‘He gave every part a go.’ However shifting to secondary faculty proved to be a problem, with Olly failing to settle.

‘He cherished the social aspect of faculty, however discovered the academic aspect very troublesome,’ Stuart admits. Recognized with autism, in some ways the lockdowns got here at time, permitting Olly to spend time at house the place he would use any spare time perfecting wheelies on his bicycle.

However his household was much less conscious of the opposite aspect of Olly’s life – one carried out by means of a display.

‘What we discovered is you assume your little one however a small share of what your little one is doing,’ says Amanda. ‘We may see on the face of it Olly was in his bed room on his Xbox. However, on his cellphone, after we noticed how he was being spoken to in conversations it was completely horrific – you may nearly say it was two worlds happening in a single home.’

To be clear, this was no random killing by strangers. The lady was even recognized to Olly’s dad and mom.

What makes his demise even more durable to grasp is the age of these concerned – kids solely just lately turned youngsters arguing over a trivial, perceived slight.

The 2 boys, the court docket heard, believed Olly had been ‘speaking behind our backs, saying issues we haven’t completed’ which may get them in bother with some older boys. In actual fact, as Amanda observes, it was merely the case that Olly had been standing up for the underdog.

‘What got here out of the court docket case was why they have been so offended with him was as a result of he had taken a screenshot of a youthful boy being humiliated and shared it with that boy’s brother to attempt to shield him.

‘That was what Olly was like – he wouldn’t have appreciated that injustice.’

However within the boys’ minds, this was enough excuse to inflict violent retribution.

The plan was to drive him to apologise and movie that apology, a ‘ritual of embarrassment’ – and all due to some deluded perception that they have been actual gang members who had been ‘disrespected’. In actuality, the lives of the 2 boys have been additionally removed from troublesome. Raised by loving dad and mom, Boy B was in all the highest units in school. Though the dad and mom of Boy A have been divorced he additionally had a secure background.

What makes his death even harder to understand is the age of those involved – children only recently turned teenagers arguing over a trivial, perceived slight

What makes his demise even more durable to grasp is the age of these concerned – kids solely just lately turned youngsters arguing over a trivial, perceived slight

However on social media they tried to painting a picture of themselves far faraway from actuality.

In a single picture seen by the Mail, Boy A poses on a scooter making a gang sign. He seems younger sufficient to be at major faculty.

Boy B had constructed up one thing of a fan membership on Instagram, with one feminine follower even compiling a video based mostly on photographs of him in a balaclava. It was entitled, ‘Ah, I can not recover from you’.

Footage recovered from their telephones reveals the boys mock preventing with a knife. A screenshot from a TikTok video confirmed a baguette with a knife inside it with the remark: ‘Ur baguetting stabbed.’

People watch the funeral procession of Olly Stephens as it slows at All Hallows Road

Folks watch the funeral procession of Olly Stephens because it slows at All Hallows Highway

On January 1, two days earlier than the homicide, Boy B, carrying a balaclava, posted a video on Instagram through which he threatened to stab Olly with a ‘nank’ – slang for knife.

He warned: ‘You’ll see the knife undergo the highest of his cranium… if he comes I promise you I’m poking a nank by means of his head.’

There have been additionally recordings of raps involving road language to debate knives, stabbing and burning garments.

Messages exchanged on Snapchat over Christmas mentioned how they may ‘arrange’ Olly. ‘I’ll make him lick my shoe,’ Boy B stated in a message. ‘I’ll simply give him bangs or stab him or one thing. I don’t care.’

To lure Olly, they enlisted the lady, who was recognized to have fallen out with him, to deliver him to the park.

She advised the boys she didn’t care whether or not or not he ‘f****** dies’ and that no matter occurred could be ‘karma’.

The web threats main as much as Olly’s stabbing fashioned the central plank of the case in opposition to the trio.

Inside hours of his killing the boys tried to cowl their tracks by deleting messages, photographs, movies and social media accounts.

However, as Stuart reveals, it was already too late. On the evening of Olly’s homicide, his mom and sister went on-line to attempt to perceive what had occurred. ‘They have been scouring social media and gathering a variety of proof.

‘I imagine a number of the stuff our daughter gathered performed a pivotal position in what the police have been capable of do,’ he stated.

‘The place she discovered that energy from I don’t know.’

Boy B deleted 57 picture recordsdata and 15 video recordsdata, and in a message to a lady Boy A referred to as himself a ‘lifeless man’ earlier than deleting Snapchat and Instagram.

What Olly’s household have since discovered about the best way through which social media is utilized by youngsters has made a long-lasting impression.

On the morning of the homicide, Boy B confronted Olly on Snapchat calling him a ‘f*****’ and insulting his mom.

‘I don’t imagine kids beneath 16 ought to use it. They don’t seem to be mature sufficient and never capable of take care of the recriminations of issues they are saying,’ Stuart says.

He provides: ‘They don’t perceive what they’re saying is against the law. It feeds the hearth. There’s a entire subculture on the market. The gangster way of life seems glamorous to a 13-year-old. It’s not. It solely ends in hurt and hazard. The way in which the web is policed is insufficient to the diploma the place our youngsters are slaughtering one another.’

He needs accounts to be linked to a bank card or different type of identification so the person’s id will be established.

Stuart and Amanda Stephens, the parents of Olly Stephens, outside Reading Crown Court after two 14-year-old boys were sentenced to 13 years and 12 years respectively in a young offenders institution for the murder of the autistic 13-year-old

Stuart and Amanda Stephens, the dad and mom of Olly Stephens, outdoors Studying Crown Court docket after two 14-year-old boys have been sentenced to 13 years and 12 years respectively in a younger offenders establishment for the homicide of the autistic 13-year-old

His spouse provides: ‘Life has modified so dramatically from the yr 2000 onwards. It’s simply escalating. You’ve gotten all of the Xbox and PlayStation video games, rather a lot have knives in. It’s type of nearly desensitizing younger kids by the video games they play. The music, some of what’s stated in that music, after which clearly photographs on social media. It’s a excellent storm.’

As for the kids who killed their son, Amanda says she doesn’t really feel hatred, explaining: ‘There isn’t a sense of anger in the direction of them, it’s simply disappointment on the scenario that’s been created, and the loss for us and for everyone.’

However Stuart, who together with his spouse attended court docket daily, admits he discovered seeing the 2 boys with their dad and mom notably troublesome.

‘They nonetheless have their kids,’ he stated. ‘They may have the ability to go to them, hug them, kiss them. We will’t. There is no such thing as a manner again for us. We’ve misplaced a large a part of our lives.

‘The second Olly hit the bottom he was forensic proof actually. To say goodbye to your little one at the back of an ambulance when you may’t contact them, can’t maintain them, can’t do something – you had spent the day with them laughing and joking and you then see them lifeless. That’s fairly a second.’

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