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Mother of Upper Street knife victim in fresh appeal for witnesses

Michelle McPhillips’ son, Jonathon ‘JJ’ McPhillips, was stabbed through the heart outside the Town Hall in February 2017

04 January, 2019 — By Emily Finch

Michelle McPhillips: ‘Key witnesses must be given full anonymity in court’

THE mother of a man stabbed to death in Upper Street two years ago has begged for more witnesses to come forward on the eve of a planned coroner’s inquest into her son’s death.

Jonathon McPhillips, also known as “JJ”, was knifed through the heart outside the Town Hall on February 25, 2017. His mother Michelle McPhillips has always maintained that her son was defending a friend when he was killed and was not involved in gangs.

A 22-year-old man from Hoxton was charged with murder early last year but the case against him collapsed after “concerns were raised by facial mapping experts regarding reliability”. There is currently no trial scheduled and inquests do not determine guilt.

Speaking to the Tribune, Ms McPhillips said this week: “JJ was protecting a friend but not enough ­people are coming forward. I just don’t think society gives a damn that my son’s been murdered and it feels as if the whole world is saying: ‘So what, he’s dead?’”

The father-of-two, from Barnsbury, staggered for 270 steps before he collapsed. He was rushed to hospital but died three days later surrounded by his family.

Jonathon ‘JJ’ McPhillips

JJ’s mother called for better protection for witnesses giving evidence in murder trials.

“The police need to be given more resources to protect witnesses. Key witnesses must be given full anonymity in court. The only person who knows their identity should be the judge. Other­wise, people are too scared,” she said.

Ms McPhillips also had unforgiving words for the parents of her son’s attackers. “If you are a parent covering for a murderer you are encouraging them to do it again. Where is the morals in your life? You might as well have stuck the knife in yourself,” she said.

An inquest into JJ’s death is planned to start on Monday at St Pancras Coroner’s Court. The Tribune understands the inquest may be delayed to accommodate a move to the Old Bailey where there will be more rigorous security measures in place.

Of life without her son during Christmas, Ms McPhillips said “it doesn’t get easier”.

“He loved Christmas and loved dressing as Santa Claus for his children so they had a great Christmas too. This year, I took the kids to a pantomime but JJ should have been doing that,” she said.

Detective Chief Inspector Dave Whellams, who is leading the case, reassured witnesses that they would be protected. He said: “Whatever they [witnesses] say will be treated in confidence. The police can put measures in place to protect them and their identify. You need to come forward and tell the police what you know and an evaluation can be done around the evidence.”

There is a £20,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of JJ’s killers. Witnesses can contact the Met’s incident room on 020 8345 3775 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.


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