TWO years after the fatal stabbing of a 41-year-old man outside Barnstaple Library, his partner is calling for people to mark the second anniversary of his death by binning their blades. Robert Whiteford died of his injuries after being stabbed on June 9,
TWO years after the fatal stabbing of a 41-year-old man outside Barnstaple Library, his partner is calling for people to mark the second anniversary of his death by binning their blades.Robert Whiteford died of his injuries after being stabbed on June 9, 2006.This week, partner Sandi Atyeo, 39, spoke to the Gazette about the long-term consequences of using knives - and hopes that by highlighting what happened to Robert, people will think twice about carrying a knife."Myself and Robert moved from big cities back to my home town in North Devon," said Ms Atyeo."People expect this kind of thing to happen in places like London or Glasgow."I certainly never thought it would happen in Barnstaple, but Robert's death just goes to show it can happen anywhere."We are just another ordinary family that has been devastated by knife crime. Please, even if it is just on the anniversary of Robert's death, get your knives down to the police station because the consequences are not worth it."If anyone knows someone who carries a knife, please ask them to seriously think about the consequences or the outcome if it is ever used."It could be your son, brother or partner carrying a blade, or who dies or is horrifically wounded as a result of one being used."Robert, who worked for South Molton Recycle, was stabbed at around 8pm while on his way to watch a World Cup football match at a friend's house.The anniversary of his death comes just a week after the Government announced that graphic images of real injuries inflicted by knives are to feature in a new £3m advertising campaign against youth violence. The ads, devised by teenagers, aim to show the dangers of carrying a knife."Robert didn't like injustice and stood up for what he believed in," said Ms Atyeo. "He had a rapport with young people, and trying to encourage them to turn in their knives is something he would definitely have approved of."He was a father, son, brother, uncle and grandfather and was well known by so many people in Barnstaple. He touched a lot of lives and his death really stunned a lot of people. "Robert's killer was jailed, but even two years on, it doesn't get any easier. People say that night time is the worst, but for me, the most difficult time is in the morning, when I wake up and realise that it wasn't a dream, it happened for real."It has left us all devastated as a family - he had such a dazzling personality. When you lose someone with the charisma that Robert had, you are left with a huge gaping hole in your life."A number of floral tributes were left at the scene of the attack two years ago and a bench has since been dedicated in his memory.Ms Atyeo said that family and friends would be leaving floral tributes on the same spot on Monday.Barnstaple sector inspector Toby Davies, said police fully supported any initiative aimed at persuading people to get knives off the street."Knife attacks are incredibly rare for North Devon but Robert's death just shows that they can happen anywhere and have devastating effects for families involved," he told the Gazette."Just last week, officers in South Molton had to disarm a man who threatened them with a knife."Police would like to remind people that it is a criminal offence to be in possession of a knife or pointed blade in a public place. "The problem is, if someone has a knife to hand and is involved in a confrontation, then there is a temptation to use it."We would certainly encourage people to take knives off the street by bringing them into the police station," added Insp Davies."If members of the public are aware of anyone who carries knife, please report them to Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.