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Family's pain of son’s killing 'never fades'

By Western Gazette - South Somerset  |  Posted: October 04, 2012

Pat Stokes, of Bruton, will host a charity event on Saturday in memory of her 19-year-old son Eric, who was fatally stabbed near his home ten years ago

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The mother of a Bruton teenager who was fatally stabbed near his home 10 years ago says the pain has “never gone away”.

Former King Arthur’s School student Eric Stokes, aged 19, was killed after being stabbed in the stomach with a foot-long kitchen knife over the Golden Jubilee weekend in 2002.

His parents, Mike and Pat, will host an annual charity evening in his name on Saturday – and said they remain stunned by what happened.

Mrs Stokes, of Uphills, said: “Everyone knows each other in Bruton – we are a tight-knit community. You sometimes expect to see the odd scrap outside a pub but never a knife in the gut.

“Eric was a brother of five. You would never worry about him going out in Bruton and never coming home.

“You expect things like this to happen in cities and big towns, but never here. You never think of getting a phone call in the early hours of the morning saying your son is dying. Every day we think about him. Nothing changes.”

In May 2003, Rodney Dunford, formerly of Godminster House, was charged with the teenager’s murder but was found not guilty after a two-week trial.

Mr Dunford told Exeter Crown Court how he had taken the knife outside to deter the group of young men, who had been out drinking, from using violence against him – but with no intention to cause injury.

Accompanied by David Heath, Liberal Democrat MP for Somerton and Frome, Mr and Mrs Stokes submitted a 1,200-signature petition to Downing Street in September 2003 asking for a review of the trial.

However, they were not granted a review and their appeal application was refused.

Mr and Mrs Stokes have run a charity event in the local community every year since their son’s death.

The couple have raised thousands of pounds for local groups over the past decade, including Ladybird Pre-School, Yeovil District Hospital and Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance.

On Saturday, they have organised a charity darts night, with the help of family friend Sandra Garman, at Bruton’s Unionist Hall in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support.

The event, which starts at 7.30pm, will be attended by a number of Eric’s friends and family. Everyone is welcome.

Mrs Stokes said: “We always strive to make the charity event as successful as possible every year in his memory.

“He was a great son. He often had his mates upstairs watching TV, or he was around their house. The place was never quiet with him around.”

Eric attended Bruton Primary School and King Arthur’s School in Wincanton, before working with his father at a local builders.

He was the youngest of five brothers, Stephen, Chris, Philip and John.

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