‘The darkest of days’

Jane and Philip Sherriff
Jane and Philip Sherriff

“It was good to be able to come home and tell my children, ‘The man who killed daddy has gone to jail’.”

It is a harrowing conversation no parent ever wants to have.

But for Jane Sherriff and her young children, it is a nightmare which has become a blunt reality.

Last month Leicester man Ashley Charles, from Nevanthon Road, was jailed for at least 14 years for the murder of her husband Philip at an industry party in South London thrown by BlackBerry.

Charles hit out at Philip with a broken bottle inside the Pulse nightclub in Southwark, slashing an artery in his neck leading to huge blood loss.

For four days, brave Philip – a former Dallas Road Primary and Central Lancaster High School pupil who was brought up in Milking Stile Lane – fought but the 37-year-old eventually succumbed to his devastating injuries in a London hospital.

A father, a husband, a best friend was gone.

Graphic artist Charles, 26, was arrested instantly. And each day, as his trial for murder progressed at London’s Old Bailey, Jane, from Scorton, documented her thoughts, feelings and emotions online.

Thousands of well wishers from Lancashire and beyond – some known to the Sherriff family, others strangers simply disgusted by the manner in which Philip met his death – posted their well-wishes during what Jane called her “darkest days”.

Now speaking almost a month since the trial, Jane says it was not anger or despair she felt as Charles was sent down for life, but an overriding sense of relief.

“It felt like a weight had been lifted. I was a bit worried about what it would be like after the trial, whether I would hit a real low. But having the murder verdict was a big weight off.

“I think I had just been working towards it, it had been playing on my mind the fact there was a trial and someone was being tried.

“It was clear from the CCTV that (Charles’ actions) were intentional, but you never know how a jury is going to react. It was good to be able to come home and tell the children that the man who killed daddy had gone to prison. It was something they could understand.

“If I had come home and said the man who killed daddy hasn’t gone to prison, it wouldn’t have made sense to them.”

After the trial, Jane was beseiged with media interest. Then, she says, she went home to sleep. “I hadn’t realised how much I was getting by on adrenaline,” she adds.

But while Charles may have got the punishment he deserves, for Jane and her children, a huge hole remains.

Jane admits she is not the spiritual type. The family, including the couple’s children, Megan, aged eight, and Rowan, five, are planning to do something to remember Philip “and the good times” on April 8, the anniversary of his death.

Thankfully, Jane says the couple’s children are slowly adjusting to life without their father and, she laughs, still “playing up” occasionally.

Meanwhile, her energies are now focused on a new target.

Determined that something positive should come from Philip’s death, she launched her campaign Bottle Stop on August 17 in a bid to get every late night bar and club to use plastic bottles and glasses, in a bid to prevent any other families experiencing what hers has.

In the coming weeks, the idea is to take the campaign to Downing Street and have an official, high profile launch, after a petition backing the drive was signed by more than 100,000 people.

Ian Lucas, the MP for Wrexham, is also due to present a motion on plastic bottles and glasses for a second time in Parliament in February, in a bid to see Bottlestop’s aims debated on a national scale.

“I have had support from the local MP Eric Ollerenshaw and the newspapers, like yourselves, and the radio stations have all been great,” she adds.

*To find out more about the campaign, search Bottle Stop on Facebook