A one-year-old laid on his dying dad’s chest as his life support was switched off.
The heartbroken family of dad-of-one Tom Lewis has paid tribute to the energetic young man and the holes left behind by his death after two men were cleared of murder, Liverpool Echo reports.
The 23-year-old was stabbed in Cambridgeshire, where he lived, and surgeons amputated his leg in efforts to save his life, but he died in hospital two days after the attack.
Two men – William Ferreira, 25, of Cherry Road in Wisbech, and Jack Dida, 20, of Turbus Road in King’s Lynn in Norfolk – were found not guilty of his murder by a Cambridge Crown Court jury on February 25, 2022, following a trial.
Mr Dida was also cleared of assisting an offender.
A lack of closure hangs over the family since his death in hospital after being stabbed in the leg in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, around 1am on Tuesday, September 8 in 2020, reports the Echo.
Tom’s mum Sharon can’t bring herself to visit the place her son died or to hang his picture on her wall.
She can barely dwell on happy moments with Tom, saying: “I just keep thinking of how he’s in the ground with one leg.”
Tom was an “animal lover” who once came home with a rescued seagull biting his finger before calling the RSPCA to pick it up.
For a while, a chicken lived in a pen at the end of his bed, pecking his feet as he slept.
Before he died, he considered moving back to Liverpool and returning to college to pursue his dream of working with animals.
He was a prankster too, once filling his sleeping nephew’s hands and toes with birdseed while the chicken was in the room, and often jumping out of cupboards to scare Ben, his older brother.
Tom, who was fiercely proud of his Irish heritage, was the “most outgoing person you could ever meet, he’d do anything for anyone, he’d talk to anybody”, according to his sister Neneh.
The 30-year-old laughed as she recalled his boisterous voice, saying: “You’d just know straight away, ‘Oh that’s Tom’, you’d hear him from down the street.
“You’d always know it was him because he wouldn’t be quiet. He was just one of those people, everybody knew him.”
She wants to remember him as “the outgoing, loving person that he was”, saying: “He’s just the best type of person ever. I don’t even know how I could describe him.
“You’d never get another one. They broke the mold when they made him.
“He was the best brother you could wish for, the best uncle I could choose for my kids, and the best dad.
“He was just an amazing person.”
Mum Sharon last spoke to Tom the Sunday before he died, the same day he last called his brother Ben, who he told he’d call again later.
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Ben “instantly wanted to throw up” when he heard what happened to Tom, saying: “I felt like I was going to be sick. It’s a disgusting feeling.”
News spread through the family in the following hours before Ben and Neneh traveled to Cambridgeshire, not sure how serious it was during the “very tense and nerve-wracking” journey to the hospital where Tom lay, his condition “on a knife’s edge.”
Neneh cried when she walked into Tom’s room. Ben’s voice broke as he recalled arriving to see his brother’s face from him “all squashed up, with tubes going down his throat”.
He said: “It’s not the way you want to see someone for the last time, especially not your brother.”
For two days, Tom was in hospitals undergoing surgery and having his leg amputated.
The wait was “really traumatic” for Neneh, who was preparing herself for Tom not pulling through.
Sharon felt sick, “like you’re going to die”, as she heard developments.
Ben tried to convince himself Tom would survive, saying: “That’s what I was telling myself, and I was telling everyone he was going to be okay, you know, ‘he’s going to struggle for a while, but he’s going to be fine’ .”
Geoff Robinson Photography/REX/Shutterstock)
But it became clear Tom wouldn’t make it. His then-one-year-old son, Thomas, lay on his chest when his life support was turned off in Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge.
Ben held Tom’s hand, wishing he could take his brother’s place as the 23-year-old’s heart stopped on Thursday, September 10, 2020.
Ben said: “If it had been the other way around, he’d have been with me, and I believe that he knew we were there.”
Neneh is “still kind of in denial” and “angry at the fact that his life had been taken away”.
She moved to Wisbech after Tom’s death to be closer to his son, describing him as a “lovely and good kid” who Tom would be proud of.
Neneh said: “He’s just like his dad. He’s funny, he’s got the best personality for a two-year-old, he’s really clever.
“He’s just like his dad in every way.”
Despite the trace of Tom left in his son, the family is all too aware of the pain Thomas may feel in later life when he learns what happened to his dad.
Ben said: “[Thomas] has to grow up without a dad. We have to grow up without a brother and a son.
“It’s not right that I have to tell my nephew what his dad was like. I shouldn’t have to do that.
“That’s not something I should have to do. His dad should be with him.”
He added: “I’ve just got to try and make people always remember him.
“I could be gone 100 years and I’d still want him to be remembered, like, ‘You had a great-great-uncle named Tom, that’s why you’re named Tom’.
“He’s the strongest person I’ve ever known, just the way he was. I’ll never meet anyone like him ever again.”
A spokesperson for Cambridgeshire Police said: “We note the decision made by the jury following the trial.
“A full investigation has been carried out by our Major Crime Unit and at present we are not actively investigating any lines of inquiry.
“If anyone has any new information, please contact Cambridgeshire police quoting Operation Wentworth.”