Call handler: Emergency which service?
Presenter: Hello and welcome to Cambs Cops: Our Stories.
In October 2019, 30-year-old Alex Fitzpatrick was fatally stabbed fifteen times on a St Neots street in front of loved ones.
At the Old Bailey last year 33-year-old Robert Parkins was found guilty by a unanimous jury of Alex's murder and jailed for 19 years.
Today we speak to Sergeant Amanda Rossiter who was one of the first at the scene about the fateful day and the dangers of carrying knives.
Sergeant Amanda Rossiter: Immediately I thought someone's been stabbed or there's been sort of a serious level of violence. A very busy residential street and it was quite a sort of balmy, dare I say, evening, so there was a lot of people out and about anyway. When I got there our victim was laying in the street, surrounded by medics completely and, you know, I think at that point Magpass were there, so the heli meds were there, so I knew it was serious and there were lots of people out and about. Everyone was watching, everyone came out of their houses and was having a look and it was just general chaos really. Just sort of so you can kind of work out who was who and who was involved and who wasn't and a lot of bewildered people kind of sort of standing around watching with their mouths open, really it was very chaotic when I first got there.
So, I quite quickly made contact with a key witness who was outside one of the houses who was initially very reluctant to engage with me, which kind of made me think that they did know sort of quite a bit about what had gone on. So, I managed to establish that the individual that was on the floor had been stabbed and this person did know who had done it, although wasn't really willing to tell me to start off with, but she did confirm that he was no longer there and at the scene. All this time the medics have obviously carried on doing their job.
Unfortunately, he passed away at the scene. It was horrific because there were children there, they were the victim’s children, who had actually watched it all happen and had not only seen him be attacked, but basically had watched their dad die out in the street.
Presenter: Alex who was unarmed had been stabbed 15 times in the neck and chest. He was just 30 years old.
Sergeant Amanda Rossiter: There was definitely an element of okay, there are certain people that now need to know what's going on, obviously Major Crime were made aware, there was always going to be an urgency to try and find the suspect because initially, again, you don't always know if this is a targeted attack or is this someone just going on, you know, deciding to attack people with a knife. Have they still got the knife? Where are they? So there was a lot of work going on in the background with our intelligence department, firearms officers, we requested firearms authorities to try and get hold of this guy, so there was a lot of work being done that wasn't at the scene in the background to try and get hold of that suspect, because we have to consider things like the golden hour principles and loss of evidence and, you know, is he dumping blood stained clothes? Is he getting rid of the weapon? etc, so there definitely became an urgency to getting hold of this guy.
Presenter: Following the stabbing the suspect Parkins ran to his sister's home and called for a lift to a property in London, where he was arrested by officers later that day.
Sergeant Amanda Rossiter: Had he not had a knife on him and this had been a, you know, a punch up, would we be looking at the same result? I don't think so, it's you know, people will fight we know that, violence between human beings has gone on forever and we will never be able to stop that, but there's a massive difference between what you can do with your fists and what you can do with a knife, and like say, I think if he didn't have a knife on him I don't think we'd be looking at the same circumstances.
Presenter: Robert Parkins was found guilty of murdering Alex and sentenced to 19 years. At the time of the trial, Alex's parents paid tribute to their son saying he was a loving and devoted father, son and brother to his eight siblings. He was always there for us and tried to better himself every day.
Sergeant Amanda Rossiter: The most common one we come across tends to be just your standard kitchen knife. I think there's something about, there's a bit of a status thing, I think sort of gang culture and knife carrying, it seems to be a bit of a cultural thing at the moment. When you look at the statistics you know that if you carry a knife, you're more likely to get hurt by a knife, so you're actually increasing your chances of getting hurt. When I think back to sort of 10-12 years ago, I was a Special and I remember body armour wasn't compulsory, and there were some old sweats who I worked with who refused to wear it. They thought it looked too forceful, it created a barrier between them and the public. I would not leave the building now to go to an incident without my body armour and I carry taser and I wouldn't want any of my officers to go to an incident involving a knife without a taser and if that means I go, then I go. It's a very real threat, there are people out there that want to hurt us and having just had the conversation about the amount of knives that are out and about, it's a real threat to us and it is definitely something we have to consider on a daily basis.
Even a verbal only domestic you are going into a house, those people have got kitchen and they've got knives, and you never quite know how they're gonna react when you get there.
Presenter: Thank you to Amanda for recalling that fateful night. Our thoughts are with Alex's family and friends.
While knife crime in Cambridgeshire is relatively rare, it is one of the force’s priorities and our officers are committed to investing time and effort into tackling it to ensure our communities are safer and people are protected from serious harm.
If you know someone who carries a knife you can report it to us online at www.cambs.police.uk/report.