The mother of a young man who was stabbed to death outside his local pub has paid tribute to her ‘great son’ as she prepares to finally lay him to rest.
Tragic Luke Fitzpatrick was viciously slayed and his father left critically injured in an assault which took place just yards away from his home near the Ox and Gate Pub in Dollis Hill on Saturday, May 19.
The attack, which has rocked the local community, happened outside the north London pub, where 25-year-old Luke had watched the Champions League final with his Dublin-born father Bernard, 56.
Luke’s mother Constance Fitzpatrick, also 56, was on holiday in Majorca with her 21-year-old son Ryan at the time.
They jetted back from Spain the following morning after receiving the horror 2am call which would change their lives forever.
We visited Constance, whose parents hail from counties Mayo and Sligo, in the family home this week, where she spoke about her ordeal for the first time.
“That night I had gone to bed fairly early, we had a nice dinner and were very relaxed,” she explained. “But I woke at 2am and felt compelled to check my mobile phone, which was unusual.
“When I got to it I had missed calls from my brother and sister and when I called my sister back she told me what had happened. To be honest I couldn’t really take it in. It was all very surreal but I just grabbed the first flight home.”
Constance admits her initial shock turned into denial in the weeks that passed, but felt strong enough to pay tribute to her beloved son this week.
“Luke was a great son and a really nice boy,” she told us. “He had got to that age where he would do anything to help me; if the washing machine broke he would fix it.”
She added: “He was uncomplicated, wise for his years and he had lots of friends. They were good to him and he was very good to them. He loved his job as a roofer and wanted to go out on his own in the next few years. He just had so many dreams and it’s still hard to believe he won’t realise them.”
The Fitzpatrick family have been forced to wait weeks for Luke’s body to be released so his funeral could be arranged, but when Constance received the long-awaited call it proved another devastating blow.
“The whole thing has been tough, you don’t realise how you get through but you just do,” she said.
“When you don’t get a funeral straight away it’s even harder. I was in shock originally but then when there was no funeral I went into denial. It was like it hadn’t happened.
“So when I got the call to say they were releasing Luke’s body it was like getting the news of his death again. I re-lived it all and that was very hard.”
Luke’s father, who lives near Constance and Ryan in Dollis Hill, is now in a stable condition at home, but remains ‘traumatised’ by the attack and loss of his son.
He is well enough to attend Luke’s funeral this Friday, July 13, where Luke’s friends will help ensure the popular young man gets the send-off he deserves.
“I always knew Luke had amazing friends,” Constance said. “But I have really seen how fantastic they are since Luke’s death. They have been here every other day, they have created a shrine near the spot where he died, they have printed off pictures and t-shirts for me, and one of the boys has even made a beautiful cross for Luke’s gravesite.”
She added: “Of course it’s been extremely traumatic for them too, as many of them were there on the night of the attack. They didn’t know Luke was lying dead just metres away and it’s very hard to deal with that.”
The friends organised a fundraising football match in Luke’s name, which took place last Saturday at Kingsbury Town football ground.
“That went really well, about 400 people turned up and Luke’s friends organised the whole thing themselves,” Constance explained. “They wanted to raise some money towards the funeral costs and just went out and got kits made, started training and booked the game,” she added.
This month Luke was due to join his pals on their yearly summer holiday in Kavos on the Greek island of Corfu. Constance has urged the boys to take the trip despite his poignant absence.
“They go every year to the same place,” she explained. “Everyone loves them there – that’s the type of boys they are. The locals welcome them back with better deals each year.”
She added: “They were all booked up to go this month, including Luke. They wanted to cancel it but I’ve told them they must still go. They have been absolutely fantastic but they can’t put their life on hold and I am sure Luke would have wanted them to go.”
Constance confirmed that some of the friends will help carry Luke’s coffin at his funeral this week, while others will speak at the mass.
After which Constance faces coming to terms with life without her eldest son. “I always wonder how people get through something like this, the loss of your child,” she said. “I still don’t know. I don’t really know how I have got this far, I just have.
“As a mother you never dream of ending up in position like this, it’s horrendous not having him here and I’m not sure how to move forward at the moment.”
But the determined mother refuses to let Luke’s attackers ruin her memories of her son.
“I have no feelings towards Luke’s attackers. They are scum,” she said. “My son would never leave the house with a knife which is clearly what they do.”
She added: “Luke was a nice kid, who enjoyed life, worked hard and never had a day’s trouble or looked for it in his life. That is how I hope he will be remembered.”
Luke’s funeral will take place at noon on Friday, July 13 at St Mary Magdalene Church, Peter Avenue, Willesden Green.
• A 16-year-old from Mill Hill, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has been charged with Luke’s murder, attempted murder, unlawful wounding and violent disorder. He appeared at the Old Bailey on July 3 where he was remanded ahead of a plea and case management hearing on September 6. Christopher Walters, 23, of Lovett Way, Neasden, faces identical charges and will appear alongside the 16-year-old on September 6. Both remain in custody.
• Two boys aged 15, a 16-year-old, two 17-year-olds, two 18-year-olds, and four men aged 19, 20, 25, and 31, have been bailed to return to a police station at a later date.