The grief-stricken parents of a 17-year-old schoolboy stabbed to death at an end-of-term party still send him messages on WhatsApp every day.
Charlie Cosser was stabbed multiple times in July at a party in the grounds of a £1.5 million country mansion farmhouse in the village of Warnham, West Sussex.
The talented footballer was critically injured and died two days later in hospital.
His alleged killer, a 17-year-old who cannot be named for legal reasons, was said to have suffered amnesia because he had drunk so much alcohol. He has pleaded not guilty to murder and is due to go on trial on May 13 next year.
Five months after his death, Charlie’s devastated parents Martin and Tara said they cannot bear the thought of their son’s name dropping down in the list of chats in WhatsApp – so they continue to send him messages every day.
In their messages they tell their son how much they love him and send him voice recordings, knowing they won’t receive an answer.
Undated family handout photo issued by Sussex Police of 17-year-old Charlie Cosser who died after being stabbed multiple times at an address in Warnham, West Sussex
Charlie died in hospital two days later and his parents Martin and Tara say they continue to send him messages on WhatsApp as they can’t bear to see his name drop down the list
Mother Tara still leaves the bathroom light on and keeps the back door unlocked as otherwise ‘it will feel as though I’m locking him out’.
While Martin has had a ‘beautiful’ tattoo of his son’s face inked onto his body with his nickname ‘Cheeks’ – given to him when he was just a baby – written underneath.
Sometimes the devoted parents, from Milford in Surrey, update their beloved son, who wanted to be a groundsman for Chelsea football club, on their lives.
Tara, 47, told The Sunday Times: ‘I don’t want to be scrolling down to find him, ever.’
His parents were in total disbelief when police told them just after midnight their ‘gentle’ son had been stabbed and told them they needed to get to him as quickly as possible.
Tara recalled: ‘I thought, “These things don’t happen. He’ll need patching up and then we can bring him home”.’
Charlie battled for two days but his injuries were too severe and he died in hospital surrounded by his loved ones. His funeral at Charterhouse School Memorial Chapel was attended by 700 people with mourners being asked to wear a ‘touch of blue’.
Donations made in Charlie’s memory have reached nearly £6,000 after Martin set up a fundraising page with a £10,000 target.
He wrote on the JustGiving website: ‘He was a kind, gentle soul. Many people have messaged us to let us know how much Charlie meant to them, how much he helped them, how much he made them laugh, how he lit up a room, how he did not to deserve to die the way he did.’
Now his parents are dedicating their lives to teaching young people about the dangers of knives and are setting up a charity called Charlie’s Promise.
They are due to go to Downing Street next year to meet Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, who is also their MP, and Justice Secretary Alex Chalk about the laws surrounding knives.
A police evidence tent on the grounds of the £1.5million mansion where the end-of-term party was taking place
Marin whispered in his son’s ear on his deathbed promising to do all he could to tackle knife crime.
He said: ‘I promised him I would make it my life’s work to talk in schools and to young people about the devastating impact of knife crime on families.
‘Charlie wasn’t in a gang, he wasn’t a fighter. He didn’t even like raised voices. If this can happen to him, it can happen to anyone.’
In November, it was revealed that Charlie’s friends had raised more than £30,000 for Lives Not Knives – a charity dedicated to preventing youth violence in London.
Following Charlie’s death, in a statement issued alongside their two other children, Adam and Eloise, his parents said: ‘Our lives have been destroyed by the tragic and unnecessary loss of our son.
‘Despite courageously battling right till the very end of his young and innocent life, his injuries were too severe and he tragically passed away on the evening of July 25.
‘He was the most caring, cheeky, loving son and brother we could have ever wished for, and we cannot imagine a life without him.
‘Charlie’s wider family are deeply shocked and saddened by the sudden loss. His grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins are struggling to come to terms with this tragic event.
‘Tributes have been pouring in from Charlie’s wide circle of friends which we would like to acknowledge have brought us huge comfort in our darkest hours.
Police cars attend the scene in West Sussex where Charlie ‘Cheeks’ was tragically stabbed
‘We would also like to thank on our and Charlie’s behalf, all of the efforts of the emergency services who treated him on the scene, as well as the whole of the critical care team at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton, who did absolutely everything they could to save our precious boy, with the utmost compassion, empathy, sympathy and care.
‘His ridiculously silly sense of humour will be deeply missed by everyone that knew and loved him.’
The 17-year-old played youth football for a team called Milford Pumas with his mother acting as the club’s secretary.
Martin changed his Facebook cover photo on the day his son died to Charlie and his older brother Adam at Wembley Stadium attending an England international. The posting attracted message of condolence.
Adam is manager of the Milford Green football club and Charlie was a member of the squad.
Charlie’s grandfather Steve is a Tory councillor and former Mayor of the stockbroker town of Godalming in Surrey.
He was too distraught to speak at his home answering the door in floods of tears.
Mr Cosser was a Surrey County councillor from 2009 until 2017 and Mayor of the town from 2011-2012.