“You took an amazing man away from us so brutally and no one will forget that” – these are the opening words of a letter from the widow of a man who was stabbed to death with a bottle in a South London club to his killer.Advertisement
Jane Sherriff, who lives near Preston, learned on Friday that Ashley Charles would be jailed for a minimum of 14 years after he severed the artery of Philip Sherriff with a broken bottle while jostling for position at a free bar during a Jessie J concert.
Mrs Sherriff, who set up a Facebook campaign in August this year to ban glass bottles in late night venues across England and Wales, posted up a letter to Mr Charles expressing her sadness and disgust for his actions.
In the letter, which has been liked by more than 22,000 people and received over 3,500 comments, she outlines the devastating impact the 26-year-old from Leicester’s actions have had on her and her family.
You can read the letter in full below and see the BottleStop campaign on Facebook here.
Your actions, and your actions alone, have devastated so many people’s lives. Phil was a son and a brother, a husband and a daddy. You took an amazing man away from us so brutally and no one will forget that.
Phil and I built a perfect life together over 15 years. We have 2 children. Megan who is 8 and Rowan, 5. They need their daddy. You took him from them. They will live forever in the knowledge that you stabbed their daddy in the neck with a bottle. Phil will never see another Christmas or another birthday. He will not see Rowan graduate or walk Megan down the aisle on her wedding day. This is your fault. Phil and I were a team. You have taken away half of that team. Raising my children on my own was not part of our plan. Being a single parent because of your actions is hard for me to bear. I miss my husband so much. I miss every bit of him. Life is unbearable without him. He could read me like a book. We told each other everything. Now, I have no one. Sometimes I can see no other way out of this hell than to kill myself. These thoughts cross my mind because of you.
I was financially dependent on Phil. His career was moving on in leaps and bounds and we took the decision that I would take a back step career wise to be a mummy and a wife. That is how we foresaw the future. You have taken away all of my and my children’s financial security. I have not been fit to work since you attacked my husband and now the children are wary of me going back to work because, “Daddy went to work and never came back.”
12 hours after you had stabbed my husband, I found out he had been injured and travelled to London leaving the children at home with friends. Megan was without her daddy and mummy for her birthday on 5 April. She will never forget this. After Phil died, I had to write a retrospective birthday card for Megan from Phil and me as he was still alive at the time of her birthday. I will never forget this.
Both children and I are being treated for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. We all see a therapist. I am on nortriptyline and temazepam because I have not been able to sleep since the day I travelled to London. I also struggle to concentrate.
When I arrived in London, I was told that the best case scenario would be that Phil would be paralysed down his right side. Yesterday, he left for work. Today, the best we can hope for is that he’ll have movement down his left side. I then spent the next 4 days watching my husband die. I was with him when his body turned blue and his heart took its last beat. I will never forget this.
Following Phil’s death, I had to wait for you to conduct post mortem on my husband’s body. Only once this had been done was I allowed to have him home. You, Mr Charles, had a right to pull my husband’s body apart, even though we all knew too well what it was that killed him. It was you stabbing his neck with a broken bottle.
Phil was cremated. We had a huge non-religious memorial service for him at the local church. Four of us read at the service. I read Phil a letter that I’d written him. Can you imagine reading at your own murdered partner’s funeral?
Instead of accepting responsibility for your actions, you chose to plead not guilty to murder. This cowardice has added to the incessant pain that you have inflicted on me and my family. I’ve had the intricacies of my marriage scrutinised and my privacy intruded, all because you can’t hold your hands up and admit that you did, in fact, kill my husband.
I have left my children at home to travel to London because you have made me sit through my own husband’s murder trial. I have had to listen to you and your defence team slur my husband’s character. I have had to watch you slit my husband’s throat umpteen times. I’ve had to listen to graphic details of his injuries and of the attempts to save his life. All without being able to react and all because you don’t want to be punished for your actions.
You, Mr Charles, have ruined my life. You have ruined many lives. However, I will not let you win. By donating his organs, Phil changed at least three people’s lives. £2,500 raised in memory of Phil has gone to the James Hora House – the hostel connected to the Royal London Hospital. Six weeks after Phil died, I ran a marathon in his memory joined by a tag team of supporters. There are two local running races now in his memory. On 17 August, I set up Bottle Stop – a campaign to ban glasses and glass bottles from late night city centre clubs and bars. Part of the campaign was a petition on which we needed 100,000 signatures to take up the issue with Parliament. On the Friday before the trial began, we hit the target. This is my first step to change the law because, Mr Charles, I will not let another person like you devastate another family like mine.
Jane set up the Bottle Stop campaign as a way of coping with her grief following Philip’s death in April and you can read more about the response she’s had in our interview here.