THE mother of a young man murdered by his next-door neighbour has spoken of her grief at facing her first Christmas without her son who loved the festive period.
Christine Rourke, from Scholes, says marking holidays and special occasions in the year has been one of the hardest parts of coming to terms with the loss of son Steven who was just 26 when he died in March.
Steven was brutally killed by neighbour James Jepson, who Steven believed was a friend after they had met several times for coffee and chatted.
Jepson, from Bickershaw Lane, Bickershaw, was jailed for a minimum of 18 years after being convicted of murder at Liverpool Crown Court in September.
Tragically, Steven’s life was cut short just as he was beginning to settle and find his path in life after several turbulent years following his diagnosis with schizophrenia as a teenager.
He was happy at his new home in Bickershaw, had found happiness with his partner Karl Hellman, and was learning new skills thanks to the work of charity Next Stage.
Christine, 50, said: “He absolutely loved Christmas and had quite a child-like excitement about it.
“I remember one year we bought him a mobile phone and we put the box inside lots of other, bigger boxes. He was trying to work out what it was and we said he would have to wait until Christmas Day as he would never guess, and when he opened it he was just over the moon.
“He watched The Snowman every year, and I’m just dreading that coming on TV. Just small things like that, a song, a programme or even a smile, bring it all straight back.
“Steven also loved buying presents and would spoil everyone in his family, with things he had really thought carefully about purchasing. Birthdays and things like Mother’s Day were the same.
“Once we’ve got Christmas and New Year over it’s his birthday in February and his anniversary in March. It’s just one thing after another which you have to try and get through. All I have of my son is his clothes, a locket of his hair and photographs, but we’ve still got our memories of him and nobody can ever take those away.”
READ THE FULL INTERVIEW IN THE WIGAN EVENING POST (FRIDAY) ...