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Mum: ‘Someone has taken my heart, as well as Jonathan’s’

Woman tells of agonising moment she found her son with stab wound and how she begged him to breathe as paramedics fought save the 28-year-old father-of-two

10 March, 2017 — By Joe Cooper

Michelle McPhillips holding a picture of her son Jonathan with his grandmother

A GRIEVING mother has begged for information to bring her son’s killers to justice as she described the agonising moment she decided to switch off his life support.

Medics performed open-heart surgery in the street as they battled to save Jonathan McPhillips’s life after a double stabbing in Upper Street late last Friday night.

Speaking from the family home in Milner Square, his mother Michelle said of her only child: “Someone has taken my heart, as well as his. If I could give my heart to bring him back here, then I would.”

Mr McPhillips, a father-of-two known as JJ, was knifed outside Islington Assembly Hall in what police are calling an “unprovoked attack” while out with a group of friends. They were rushed by six men dressed in hoods and dark clothing and Mr McPhillips was stabbed in the chest. The 28-year-old Arsenal fan staggered down the street to a bar before lifting up his shirt and begging door staff for help.

Jonathan McPhillips with daughters Lexi-Jae and Evie-Rose

Ms McPhillips was working at the nearby pub she runs, The Green Man in Essex Road, when she got a call from one of her son’s friends. She went straight to Upper Street only to find paramedics massaging Jonathan’s heart in the street as they battled to keep him alive.

“When he saw me he reached out to me and said, ‘Mum’. The ambulance came and I said to him, ‘please breathe, even if it’s just little breaths, please’. They had to restart his heart four times.

“My son was trying to come home. He was just on a night out enjoying himself. Why my son? He was my only child – I’ve got nothing left. You can show me a thousand pictures or tributes but you can’t get my child back.”

The McPhillipses are a traditional Irish family who would normally carry out a burial within three days, but the authorities cannot release the body while the investigation is ongoing.

“The sooner these people are caught, the sooner I can have my son’s body back,” Mrs McPhillips said. “So please help me.

“My son was a good boy. He was polite and well mannered. He was a bit of a jester and whenever the young people in the square had a problem they would go to him.”

The former Highbury Grove School pupil was very close to his mother and often helped her out at the pubs she has run. Mr McPhillips loved fixing up bikes and dabbled in DJing, playing House music.

“I was a single parent for a long time, so he became my friend,” his mother said.

Looking out onto Milner Square, Mrs McPhillips said: “He should still be riding up that street on his bike, tooting his horn and shouting ‘hello’ to everyone.

“I would like to look into the eyes of these people and ask them, ‘what gave you the right to take my son’s life?’ This was a senseless, selfish murder. They are a bunch of cowards.

Tributes to Mr McPhillips near his Milner Square home

“These people have to be removed from the streets. No one is safe while this person or people are out there doing this stuff.”

Detectives from the Homicide and Major Crime Command were in Upper Street on Friday, a week on from the crime, to appeal for information. A 17-year-old who was also injured in the altercation has refused to speak to police.

Mr McPhillips battled to stay alive for three days in the Royal London Hospital, but his mother had to take the heartbreaking decision to turn off his life-support on the advice of doctors.

“His quality of life would have been so limited,” Mrs McPhillips said. “I did it out of love for my son.”

She also made a plea for knife crime, which has become a blight on Islington’s streets, to cease.

“Lay down your knives,” she said.

“If you are carrying one then you are more likely to be a victim yourself. We have to educate these people on the streets.”

She added: “We need people to come forward to the police, or to me, with information. I don’t want revenge, I want justice – for the people who have done this to sit in jail for a long time and have to think about what they have done.

“I don’t want revenge, and that’s not what Jay would have wanted. He would not want another mother to go through what I am going through.”

Ms McPhillips also urged people to donate to a crowdfunding page, set up by friend Shane Yerrell, which will go towards supporting Mr McPhillips’ two young daughters. Go to www.gofundme.com/3g7hjp4

• On Saturday, March 4, a 24-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of murder. He has been bailed pending further enquires to a date in mid-April.

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