Life is absolute hell, says mum of gang-related murder victimon March 12, 2024 at 2:32 am

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The mothers of James Quigley and Joe Dix describe the pain of losing their sons to gang rivalry.

Ms Oakes, the grieving mother of Raymond James Quigley, known as James.

Two teenagers have been jailed for life for murdering 18-year-old Raymond James Quigley in Ipswich amid rising tension between two gangs. What does the verdict mean for two mothers caught up in tit-for-tat killings?

“Life is absolute hell at the moment. It feels like I’m just existing,” says Margaret Oakes, the grieving mother of the teenager she calls James.

“We are never going to be complete again because James is not there.”

James had travelled to Ipswich from Wymondham in Norfolk to meet two friends on 17 January 2023.

Then, at 15:35 GMT, in Westgate Street, James and his friends encountered Alfie Hammett and Joshua Howell, both 19. Both wore face masks, had their hoods up and were armed with large knives.

James was stabbed four times.

He staggered across the road clutching his torso before collapsing in a card shop. James, a keen singer who was looking forward to learning to drive and a career in construction, died at the scene.

The motive for the killing, the jury was told, was gang rivalry.

Alfie Hammett and Joshua Howell

Image source, Suffolk Police

James’ death happened a year after 18-year-old Joe Dix was stabbed to death in Norwich in January 2022.

Joe was in a gang called 3rdside and was killed by Benjamin Gil, Cameron Palmer and Hans Beeharry, who were members of a rival gang called OTM (Only The Money).

Hammett – who had previously lived in Norwich – was associated with 3rdside, while Howell was with the Ipswich-based Nacton gang, which is also known as IP3.

The jury was told IP3 had formed a level of co-operation with 3rdside.

Although James had friends in OTM he was not, his mother says, a member.

(Left to right) Benjamin Gil, Cameron Palmer, Hans Beeharry

Image source, Norfolk Police

And while revenge for the murder of Joe Dix is part of the story, it was not, Ms Oakes says, the whole story.

“Alfie knew James very well – they grew up in the same area of Mile Cross,” she says. “They were all friends at one point – they all knew each other from Mile Cross, because we all lived near each other.”

But then, at some point, things changed.

“He was the main person who always had the biggest problem with James,” she says. “I think it was because James didn’t want to be like him, he wanted to be his own person.

“He tried to harass James every time he could.”

Raymond James Quigley, known as James, from Wymondham, Norfolk

Image source, Suffolk Constabulary

She believes the force used in the attack reflected years of resentment and animosity Hammett felt towards her son.

“I think it was very easy for Alfie to do, because before all the gangs he had it in for James anyway,” she says.

“James did not know this was coming to him. He did not go up there for a fight.

“It was in front of him before he realised. He didn’t have a chance to defend himself – it is so upsetting to know that.”

Ms Oakes says although she did not know Joe Dix, she believes her son had known him.

Emma DIx

Image source, Jamie Niblock/BBC

Joe was the only son of Emma Dix, who lives in Norwich, Norfolk.

“I don’t think [his death] is something we will ever come to terms with to be honest,” she says.

“We like to think of Joe as not being around rather than being dead and gone.”

She says much of what she now knows about her son’s gang involvement only emerged after his death.

Joe Dix and Phil Dix

Image source, Emma Dix

“We believe Joe was exploited around the age of 14 and he was approached and befriended by people in a park and carried drugs for them,” she says.

“We don’t know loads of detail but we do know over the years he got more and more involved with a gang.”

She says Joe repeatedly went missing and his attendance at school dropped.

From time to time he would be “uncontactable” for days on end.

Mrs Dix and husband Philip founded the Joe Dix Foundation to try and raise awareness of gangs, knife crime and the exploitation of children and young people

Image source, Jamie Niblock/BBC

He was arrested in 2020 and charged with supplying Class A drugs.

Frightened, Joe finally opened to his parents about what had been going on.

“From what Joe said when he was vulnerable after he had been arrested, he had been beaten up and mugged and been to different places and seen lots of things that we could not imagine he had seen,” Mrs Dix says.

“There are several gangs in Norwich. They compete against each other for drug lines.

“In Norfolk, people don’t want to acknowledge it is an issue,” she says.

“Joe didn’t really acknowledge that he was involved in anything. He kept his life, his gang life as such, very separate to his home life.

“When he was here, he was safe, he was our Joe.”

Mrs Dix and husband Philip founded the Joe Dix Foundation to try and raise awareness of gangs, knife crime and the exploitation of children and young people across the country.

Asked what advice he would give to any young people tempted to join a gang, Mr Dix says: “Stay at home and watch TV with your parents or paint your little sister’s toenails.

“Enjoy life.”

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