The parents of a British teenager, Olly Stephens, have opened up about the tragic death of their son.
Amanda and Stuart Stephens spoke to Erin Molan for her upcoming Sky News documentary, Haters Online: Erin Molan Strikes Backwhich will be available to stream on Flash.
The 13-year-old was stabbed to death in Reading, England, by two teenagers who recruited a girl to lure him to a field behind his house in January 2021.
According The sunOlly’s family was preparing to return to work and school after the Christmas holidays when he received a message.
He told his family he would be back before dark. But soon after, a knock on the door shattered her family’s world.
“Within 15 minutes of her leaving the house, there was a banging on the door,” Amanda told the program.
“My instant thought was ‘oh, he’s back soon. He came back quickly
“I went to the door and there was a kid we knew and he said what happened. And I just thought, did he just say Olly was stabbed?
For Stuart, he said the loss of his son cannot be explained.
“I watch other dads with their sons and you feel it every time you see that,” he said.
“It’s just a void now.”
Police arrested the 13-year-old girl and two boys aged 13 and 14.
In hundreds of messages and voice notes sent on Snapchat, the two boys revealed how they argued with Olly online because he saw an image of a young boy mocking and tried to get him to stop .
When the two teenagers – who cannot be named for legal reasons – found out, they accused him of ‘turning them in’ and set in motion a plan for revenge.
The posts show how they recruited a girl – who cannot be named for legal reasons – who knew Olly to get him out of his house and out into the open where they would later ambush him, stab him to death and leave him in a pool of blood. .
A voice note from the girl says one of the boys “wants me to stomp on him” and “I’m so excited you don’t understand”.
“You look at him and think, these are not gangsters. They are 13 or 14 year olds who live in Reading with families who live in the suburbs,” Amanda said.
About 90% of the evidence presented at Olly’s trial came from cellphones and social media platforms.
One of the pieces of evidence presented to the case was a video of a knife belonging to the 13-year-old boy. He posted it on Snapchat the day before Olly was murdered.
“One thing we’ve learned is that a lot of kids post pictures of knives because they want other people to know they have a knife or would have a knife,” said Stuart.
“So if you come to see them, they are ready to pick you up.
“It’s disgusting. I wouldn’t want to be a teenager now.
Two boys who attacked Olly have been convicted of murder. The girl who lured him to his death has been convicted of manslaughter.
All three teenagers are serving their sentences in young offender facilities.
According to Amanda, the police interviewed 50 children, of whom 41 combined were seized and data was removed from them. About 69,000 pages of data were extracted from these phones.
“It was the communications that piled up and escalated very quickly into deaths,” she said.
“If the bosses of social media companies were on the ground with us that afternoon and saw the overwhelming reality of what had been allowed to happen through their posts and such.
“I just feel like they’re being cowards by not actually responding to the reality of what’s going on.”
Haters Online: Erin Molan Strikes Back investigates the sinister and toxic side of social media and what can be done in the fight against online abuse to secure our cyberspace.
Featuring harrowing stories from victims of online abuse, the documentary examines how online perpetrators can go unpunished and why it’s taken so long to change the laws.
An anti-cyberbullying advocate, the Sky News Australia host says the days of being told to ‘just ignore it’ are over
“Online abuse is dangerous and, at worst, can kill,” she said.
“Australia has introduced world-first legislation to keep our country and, more importantly, our children safe, but we must keep fighting to ensure the hateful hate stops and the perpetrators are held accountable. “