Relief as killer’s appeal fails

Jane Sherriff with children Megan and Rowan.
Jane Sherriff with children Megan and Rowan.

The widow of a man killed during a night out has spoken of her relief after her husband’s killer’s appeal was dismissed by a High Court judge.

Jane Sherriff’s husband Philip, 37, was fatally wounded when he was attacked outside a nightclub five years.

Janes husband Philip was murdered by Ashley Charles (above)

Janes husband Philip was murdered by Ashley Charles (above)

But the Scorton mum says she has finally been able to find some closure after the court’s ruling.

Ashley Charles was jailed for life in 2012 for the horrific attack, but continued to add to the Sherriff family pain by appealing his conviction and sentence. Now High Court judges have ruled that Charles, serving a life sentence for the murder, had not been the subject of a miscarriage of justice – bringing some relief for Philip’s family.

On May 9, when this latest legal challenge by her husband’s killer was being heard at the Royal Courts of Justice, Jane went for a long walk.

She had planned to travel to London for the case, but instead spent the day walking to the shoulder of Catbells fell in Cumbria with her fiancé and their toddler.

Janes husband Philip (above) was murdered by Ashley Charles

Janes husband Philip (above) was murdered by Ashley Charles

Jane, of Scorton, near Garstang, said: “We decided to travel to the Lake District instead. I was told there would be a lot of legal speak and that I would be on the periphery. I was seeking distraction.”

When the decision of the High Court’s Administrative Court was announced, Jane read it from cover to cover.

It was of particular importance to her that Lord Justice Gross, who watched CCTV footage of the killing, concluded: “The picture to my mind is aggression on the part of Charles, not the deceased.”

That Jane has now found new love with partner Graham and there has been a new addition – 17-month-old Sydney – to the family has been an unexpected joy.

Graham, a senior project manager, is also a widow and the couple were introduced by a friend of Jane’s.

The mother-of-three says she will never forget Philip.

She said: “The fact I’ve got someone else now is a good thing.

“Phil is still my husband – he’s not forgotten – but you’ve got to do what you can to carry on, if not for me, for the kids.

“I wouldn’t want to be where I was five years ago. It’s not a nice place to be at all. But you have to find your own way and people do it in different ways.”

Recalling the immediate years after Philip’s death, she said: “I suppose I just carried on. I went running when I could. I did a bit of travel.

“I grabbed life and dragged my children along with me.

“I certainly went through a stage of being very bitter – about two years after I got stuck in this bitter hole and I thought this isn’t me. I’m not a bitter person. So I just had to let it go.”

She took anti-depressants for a while and was helped by ‘an amazing network of friends and family’.

She cites the fact that while she was at Philip’s hospital bed-side it was Megan’s eight birthday: “They threw a massive party with me not being here.”

Asked how the children, Megan, now 13, and Rowan, 10, have coped, she says: “They were so young, they understand things differently as they get older.”

Reflecting on the difficult years which have followed Philip’s death, she sums up her hard-won philosophy and positive approach: “Be happy. Embrace life – because it is short.”

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