The wife of murdered Rotherham pensioner Mushin Ahmed has described the terrible torment her and her family has suffered after he was murdered in a racist attack last summer.
Members of the jury were left in tears as Margaret Ahmed, known as Peggy, read out the statement in court today.
Here is the full powerful statement she gave to Sheffield Crown Court as Mr Ahmed’s killers Dale Jones and Damien Hunt were sentenced for their sickening and unprovoked assault on the 81-year-old former steelworker.
“I have the very difficult task of explaining to you all what this horrendous crime has done to my family. I will speak on behalf of my daughter, sons, grandchildren and my husband’s family in Yemen.
“My marriage of nearly 50 years was cruelly ended the night my husband was kicked and stomped to death.
“Not just my marriage but the whole of our existence was changed brutally forever. I have the rest of my life to face without my beloved husband and the pain and loss is almost indescribable.
“I will however for the court attempt to put into words what this means.
“I have after seven months come to no understanding that would allow me to get over the most traumatic shock that anyone could ever experience. The morning my husband was not home after I woke up to find him missing will never leave my memory.
“It is only surpassed by the shattered feeling of hearing my daughter phone to say my husband was in ICU. This feeling haunts my every waking moment and the following 11 days of him laid battered in a hospital bed are as close as anyone will come to a living hell.
“Watching my beloved husband and father of our children struggle to stay alive cannot be erased from my memory.
“It has replaced every good memory we have over the 50 years of our marriage. I remain awake but life has ceased to move on except for other people. I remain trapped between the last days of my husband’s unconscious existence and the final hours as we buried my husband.
“In asking me to explain the impact than I would draw the comparison to being buried alive. Our screams of pain from deep within ourselves will never be heard either by the perpetrators nor the world at large, just as someone who is buried alive six feet under cannot be heard screaming to be released.
“My husband’s murder however was not a terrible mistake. It was a crime of the most heinous type.
“My son Kieran, who has lived throughout the last seven months with me, is a stroke survivor who has had his recovery set back a year. He has recovered much of his power of speech but the trauma is so great that the regression now prevents him from being able to address the court on our behalf.
“He will never be the same and neither will his life and though people tell him it will get better with time he cannot see past the body which was given back to us for burial seven weeks later.
“The beautiful face of his father, now replaced by the image of his body after the autopsy. He doesn’t sleep properly anymore and the reason is that his father, who not only raised him but worked alongside him throughout his years in the steelworks has been ripped from him.
“Keiran’s only daughter, the eldest of 14 grandchildren, speaks now through me to the court and explain that they robbed her of a beloved grandfather due to the fact he was viciously murdered and all on account of his appearance of being from a different ethnicity and religion than his attackers.
“She expresses to the court that at the age of 28, she has lived through this as an adult with all that it entails and nothing prepared her for the day that two men, showing no respect for the life of an 81-year-old gentleman, disgraced their community of Rotherham when they murdered her grandfather. Never did she think that such a crime as this could ever have been committed in the town she grew up in.
“The distrust this crime has caused is echoed throughout my family’s collective experience since we found out the dreadful news of my husband’s murder. I have never in all my years of living in Rotherham been as afraid and distrustful as I am now of the streets my husband walked for the best part of 50 years. I now spend sleepless nights in shock and even prescription sleeping tablets offer little relief.
“I have since retirement counted on my husband for support and companionship as I battled with cancer and crippling osteoporosis.
“That is now replaced by the emptiness of our house of 47 years and the pain of knowing I will never eat a meal with him again nor walk around Asda collecting our weekly shopping.
“He was the person who kept me strong throughout our marriage and rare is a man today found to match his quiet heroism.
“My daughter Rachel has been our cherished support in our later lives and her closeness to her father was one which meant she has been unable to come to terms with the trauma of this savage attack that has taken her hero away.
“She was an extremely bubbly person, self-assured and confident - a hardworking mother who emulated the ethics of hard work her father had shown her.
“Prior to the murder, she worked in the community with the vulnerable and needy.
“Since the murder she has been unable to return to that as it her now who is in need of support and counselling. Although she possesses her father’s brute determination to beat the odds, the sheer weight of that terrible morning has crushed her and left her unable to believe this happened in the community we all lived in and served all these years.
“The murder has robbed her of the father she will never again hug or share a laugh with. It has left her devastated.
“I have been blessed with my husband to have many grandchildren, some of whom live abroad where their father, my son Yousef, has married. He was home in England with some of them the night that his father was attacked.
“He had the unenviable task of explaining to his children, our grandchildren, that their grandfather will not be here when they come again in the holidays with their new-born sisters, who will never see their grandfather.
“He has not ever experienced something as hateful and meaningless in all his life as the brutal murder of his father.
“I do not know what he will use to explain to his children that their faith, which they shared with their grandfather, was the only reason he was murdered.
“How will they ever comprehend the brutal snatching away of the one grandfather they had alive to know and cherish? It is something my son agonises over when the subject is raised by one of his older children, who ask why did they kill my grandad?
“My eldest son Sean has withdrawn, unable to come to terms with the murder by those who could not come close to the stature of his father.
“There is nothing that offers a dulling effect to the pain he endures and no day will pass that he doesn’t think about the day he wasn’t there to protect his father from the blows that rained down on him until he fell to the floor unconscious, left for dead.
“The family has tried to take steps forward since the murder but the most important of these will be witnessing the sentencing of those found guilty.
“We understand it will not compensate us for our loss but the internal struggle for justice to be seen to be done is one which we hope can be an important part of the ongoing process as we try to make our way out of the darkness that encompasses everything since the terrible murder of my beloved husband, amazing father to our four children and hero to the 14 grandchildren left behind.”