My son was stabbed on Boxing Day and I had to turn off his life support machine

A DEVASTATED mum has told of her heart-breaking decision to turn off her son’s life support system after he fell victim to knife crime.

Lisa Kilkenny’s son Joseph Whitchurch was just 16 when he was fatally stabbed in Stapleford, Nottinghamshire, during the early hours of Boxing Day 2020.

Joseph Whitchurch’s mum Lisa Kilkenny said he had a ‘smile that could light up a room’Credit: Nottinghamshire Police

Lisa Kilkenny has opened up about the grief her family suffered after the brutal murder of Joseph

Lisa Kilkenny has opened up about the grief her family suffered after the brutal murder of JosephCredit: Nottinghamshire Police

Lisa said Joseph's younger brothers are still consumed with grief

Lisa said Joseph’s younger brothers are still consumed with griefCredit: Nottinghamshire Police

He was rushed to hospital but died from his injuries three days later.

Joseph had spent Christmas Day with his family before asking if he could go to a friend’s house nearby for a few drinks.

Lisa said: “We all sat down together to enjoy our Christmas Day dinner. Joseph said he was full and gave me a kiss to say thank you and ‘I love you’.

“When he asked later if he could go to his friend’s I said ‘of course, but don’t be late’. He asked if I would order him a taxi to get him home and I said ‘of course’.”

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She added: “There was a knock at the door which I assumed was Joseph saying he had fallen asleep at his friend’s.

“To my horror I discovered a concerned and shaken up police officer trying to explain that he needed to get me to hospital quickly as Joseph had been stabbed. I was in complete and utter shock.

“On the way I felt how serious it was, as the officer received a call and the car sped so fast.

“I felt numb, sick and full of confusion. I just wanted to see Joseph so much. I then got ushered into a room frantically calling his dad. I was shattered and I had so many questions.

“I was told in no uncertain terms how bad this was. I just remember feeling so much pain my heart, I felt it was about to break in half. The tears were just uncontrollable.

“After a few painful hours we were able to see, touch and kiss Joseph although we were aware he was so poorly.

“My beautiful boy was lying there after so much surgery. No parent ever imagines going through this and the pain and anguish as you await news and the enormity of his injuries.

“I was praying and telling Joseph not to leave me. I prayed God would take me instead. It’s so hard to put into words but the pain in me was taking my breath.”

Sadly, Lisa’s worst fears were realised when medics told her Joseph wasn’t going to make it and he had been declared brain dead.

She said: “When we were told that he was brain dead, we had to say goodbye. I remember screaming ‘how am I going to live without you, my beautiful boy?’ Everyone was crying. The pain was so immense and touched everyone.

“Having to tell friends and family this news left them in utter shock and full of grief. I struggled looking at my mum and dad as the pain in their eyes was too much to see. They were broken.

“His brothers were in complete shock, the grief is still consuming their young lives. They were so close and looked up to their amazing big brother. He had been there since they were born and shared an amazing bond.

No-one should have to endure such pain. Nothing will ever be as dark as the day you are told that your son is dead.

Mum Lisa Kilkenny

“As a family we are trying to live but it’s extremely hard. We are surrounded by amazing family and friends as without them we wouldn’t be able to get through this.

“No-one should have to endure such pain. Nothing will ever be as dark as the day you are told that your son is dead.

“To have a child die is so devastating but to also deal with the fact that somebody brutally stabbed your precious child is another level. How could one human do that to another? It’s too much to ever get my head around.”


Lisa described Joseph as a “loving and caring son” who “had a smile that would light up a room. He loved being around people and people loved being around him. He had a happy nature, and his warm and caring personality was loved by everyone.

“He was always looking out for his younger brothers and was a kind and loyal friend.

“Joseph was naturally good at sport and excelled in swimming, rugby and cricket.

“He had been a member of the local cricket and rugby teams and enjoyed success in county swimming leagues too. He achieved the top scouting award before he joined the county swimming club.

“He did well in school and wanted to be an engineer. He had recently undertaken some work experience at Rolls Royce that had spurred him on to embark on this career. He came home with tales of the new people he had met and the experience he had enjoyed.

“He also helped out his dad in his work, to start to learn some labouring skills. He was looking forward to finishing college and entering the world of work and was also really keen to start to learn to drive.

“Like many 16-year-old lads, Joseph enjoyed his music and his great loves were food and eating it. He also had a great circle of friends who are still in touch to share their memories with us.”


Jake Rollinson was given a life sentence in March this year after he was found guilty of Joseph’s murder.

He was in the kitchen of his grandmother’s house in Stapleford when he stabbed Joseph.

He will spend at least 19 years behind bars.

Lisa added: “We have all had to come to terms with losing our beloved Joseph.

“Words seem inadequate to describe the hole he has left in our lives and yet we will live to honour him in everything we do, inspired by his attitude to life and his smile. Cherished memories of him are never far from our thoughts.

“The family, Joseph’s amazing friends and the communities of Stapleford and Bramcote have stood united together to ensure his memory becomes a legacy for our community in standing together against knife crime.”

Lisa also spoke out over the devastating impact knife crime has on families and communities.

She said: “Joseph was just in the wrong place at the wrong time that night. We’re a normal family and it just goes to prove how knife crime can affect anyone.

“By sharing my experience I want people to understand the heartbreak that just one knife crime incident can truly cause and how lives like ours are changed forever.

“There is never an excuse or reason to carry a knife or use one to cause harm to another person. Carrying a knife doesn’t protect you – it actually puts you at greater risk of harm.”

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Nottinghamshire Police is currently holding a week of action in a bid to drive down knife crime as part of the national Operation Sceptre.

Superintendent Kathryn Craner, Nottinghamshire Police’s knife crime lead, said: “Every knife crime is one too many and we will continue our efforts with our partners and communities to drive down knife crime even further in our communities.”

Joe Whitchurch, 16, was stabbed to death in Hickings Lane, Stapleford in the early hours of Boxing Day 2020

Joe Whitchurch, 16, was stabbed to death in Hickings Lane, Stapleford in the early hours of Boxing Day 2020Credit: SWNS:South West News Service

Floral tributes left following the attack

Floral tributes left following the attackCredit: BPM Media

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