A man who died after being stabbed in Cambridgeshire spent his final moments with his son lying on his chest, his family have said. Tom Lewis, 23, breathed his last in the presence of his one-year-old son before his life support was turned off.
Tom, who lived in Wisbech, was stabbed in the leg in the town in 2020. His leg was amputated at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in a bid to save his life, but the ‘outgoing and loving’ father died two days after the incident.
Two men were cleared of the murder at Cambridge Crown Court in February. Tom’s family say they were left with a lack of closure after his death and his mother and siblings told the Echo of Liverpool about the energetic young man and the holes left by his passing.
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Tom was an ‘animal lover’ who once came home with a seagull biting his finger before calling the RSPCA to collect it. For a time, a chicken lived in a pen at the end of his bed, pecking at his feet while he slept. Before he died, he considered moving back to Liverpool, where he grew up, and going back to university to pursue his dream of working with animals.
He was also a prankster, once stuffing 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 meet, he would do anything for anyone, he would talk to anyone”, according to his sister Neneh.
The 30-year-old laughed as she remembered his loud voice saying: “You’d know straight away, ‘Oh, that’s Tom’, you’d hear him from the end of the street. You’d always know it was him because he was not silent. He was just one of those people, everyone knew him.
She wants to remember him as “the outgoing, loving person he was”, saying: “He’s just the best kind of person there is. I don’t even know how I could describe him. “I would never have another. They broke the mold when they created him. He was the best brother you could wish for, the best uncle I could choose for my kids, and the best father. He was just an amazing person” .
But a lack of closure has hung over the family since he died in hospital two days after being stabbed in the leg in Wisbech around 1am on Tuesday September 8, 2020. Two men have been charged with his murder and found not guilty by a Cambridge Crown Court jury on February 25, 2022.
Tom’s mother, Sharon, can’t bring herself to visit the place where her son died or hang his picture on her wall. She can barely dwell on the happy times with Tom, saying, “I can’t stop thinking about how he’s in the ground with one leg.”
She last spoke to Tom on the Sunday before his death, the same day he last called his brother Ben, whom he said he would call later. Ben “immediately wanted to vomit” when he heard what happened to Tom, saying, “I felt like I was going to be sick. It’s a disgusting feeling.”
Word spread through the family in the hours before Ben and Neneh traveled to Cambridgeshire, unaware of how serious it was during the ‘very tense and nerve-wracking’ journey to at the hospital where Tom lay, his condition “on the edge”. Neneh cried when she entered Tom’s room. Ben’s voice cracked as he recalled arriving to see his brother’s face “all crushed, with tubes in his throat”. He said, “That’s not how you want to last see anyone, especially not your brother.”
For two days, Tom was hospitalized to undergo surgery and have his leg amputated. The wait was “really traumatic” for Neneh, who was preparing for Tom not making it. Sharon felt sick, “like you were going to die”, as she heard the developments. Ben tried to convince himself that Tom would survive by saying, “That’s what I was telling myself, and I was telling everyone he was fine, you know, ‘he’s going to struggle for a while, but he’s going to good’ .”
But it became clear that Tom wouldn’t make it. Her then one-year-old son Thomas was lying on his chest when his life support was turned off at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in 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 would have been with me, and I think he knew we were there.”
Neneh is “still a bit in denial” and “angry that his life was taken away from him”. She moved to Wisbech after Tom’s death to be closer to her son, describing him as a “lovely, good boy” that Tom would be proud of. Neneh said, “He’s like his dad. He’s funny, he’s got the best personality for a two-year-old, he’s really smart. He’s like his dad in every way.”
Despite the trace of Tom left in their son, the family is all too aware of the pain Thomas may feel later when he learns what happened to his father. Ben said: “[Thomas] must grow up without a dad. We must grow up without brothers or sons. It’s not fair that I have to tell my nephew what his father was like. I shouldn’t have to do this. It’s not something I should have to do. His father should be with him.”
He added: “I just have to try to make sure people always remember him. I could be gone 100 years and I still want to be remembered, like, ‘You had a great-grand- uncle named Tom, that’s why your name is Tom’. He’s the strongest person I’ve ever known, just the way he was. I’ll never meet someone like him again.
A Cambridgeshire Police spokesman said: “We note the decision made by the jury following the trial. A full investigation has been carried out by our Major Crimes Unit and at this time we are not “We are actively investigating no leads. If anyone has any new information, please contact Cambridgeshire Police quoting Operation Wentworth.”