The heartbroken family of fatally stabbed Oliver Stephens have remembered him as a “warm, kind, soulful” teenager as they called for an end to knife crime.
In a statement released after two 14-year-old boys were convicted of his murder, the family of the 13-year-old, known as Olly, spoke of their sadness “for the life not yet lived” but said their memories of him had become “priceless treasures”.
“Today is a sad day, so many young lives and the lives of their families have been devastated by this callous and cold-hearted act. Knife crime needs to stop. Now,” their statement concluded.
Olly was killed at Bugs Bottom field in Emmer Green, in Reading, on January 3.
His family’s statement on Monday afternoon, which was shared by Thames Valley Police, said: “He left our home on that fateful afternoon with love and laughter in his heart, with the hope of a bright fun-filled future ahead of him.
“Within 13 minutes of leaving the safety of his loving home Olly had left us forever.
“Two minutes was all it took to end him and cause us and our family catastrophic heartbreak.
“When I reached where Olly fell, I gently held his hand, willing him to respond, with the same love and devotion as I had on the day we met, the day he was born.”
The statement continued: “Olly was our boy. We raised him to the best of our ability. He was a huge character in and around our home, with his friends and at school.
“He made people laugh, he could dance with the best of them, and he gave his love freely. His sense of humour and his wicked comic timing had us and his friends in stitches many a time.
“He was warm, kind, soulful, a deep thinker and a great carer to those around him. He was loyal and trusted people to a fault. He would never back down from a fight; he would defend those that couldn’t or wouldn’t defend themselves.
“I pressed on him the importance of running from a fight, to get clear and take stock of events later, we would deal with the fallout together. He did not see it my way. It cost him his life.
“His autism and suspected PDA was never seen as a problem by us just something we would all work together to understand, to overcome his fear of feeling different.
“Since moving to secondary school he had found education and learning difficult, but he made up for this in so many other ways.
“We had just got him to understand autism was a gift, something that made him unique. We loved him for it and always will.
“We had put so much love, care, learning and understanding into Olly over his 13 years that we hoped he would become a reflection of this in the many years to come. His friends and teachers have already confirmed that at such a young age he had more than excelled our expectations.
“The memories and stories we have of Olly’s short life have now become priceless treasures locked away in our hearts and minds forever.
“We are sad for the life not yet lived, for the friends he will never meet, for the travel he will never undertake and the journey he will never fulfil.
“Olly missed the birth of his little cousin by six months. Upon hearing the news of an addition to the family on Christmas day Olly was excited to meet her and was very happy at not being the baby of the family anymore. He would have loved to have held her, he would have looked after her with love, the same way in which he loved and held in high regard his sister.
“It was an honour to call him our son, we could not be prouder of the man he would have become. We loved his company, his smile, his laughter, and his mind but most of all we miss his hugs.
“Gentle shoulder charge, love you mate. Xxx.”