CHRIS HENCHLIFFE'S MUM: '˜Pubs should close earlier to make our town safer'
The heartbroken mum of a Chesterfield soldier who was killed in the town centre after a night out is calling for action to make the area safer in memory of her son.
Young dad Christopher Henchliffe, 26, of Maynard Road, Chesterfield, was assaulted outside the Pomegranate Theatre in Chesterfield in July and suffered serious head injuries. He died in hospital more than a week later.
Now his mum, Yvonne, says she would like to see extra safety measures brought in to stop such incidents happening again.
“The pain is unbelievable,” Yvonne said. “We have been torn apart. There is not a word in the dictionary that describes how we feel.
“If I cry I get worse and have a breakdown. It is making my family ill.
“I do not want Chris’s death to be a waste. I do not want anybody else to go through what we have had to go through as a family.”
Mr Henchliffe attended Parkside Community School in Chesterfield and served with the Yorkshire Regiment in Afghanistan. He also has a five-year-old son called Tyler.
Yvonne, who has been unable to work since her son’s death, says that pubs and clubs in Chesterfield should not be allowed to stay open until the early hours of the morning in a bid to stop alcohol-related violence.
“I have been speaking to some of Chris’s friends and a lot of them say they are afraid to stay in town that late because of what happened to Chris,” Yvonne told the Derbyshire Times.
“I have gone over and over what happened. I always think ‘what could I have done to save him?’ and ‘what could my town have done?’”
“If pubs and clubs were to close at 2am it would allow the police to concentrate on one area rather than being spread out up to the hours of 6am.
“Okay there would be a lot of people in one place but at least they would be able to control them better.”
Grandmother Yvonne, says that she has since had a lot of messages from people who have contacted her to give support to her campaign.
Yvonne explained: “It is not just parents, but grandparents, brothers and sisters, people do seem to think the same way as me. It is affecting our children.
“We have got new businesses coming into the town, but how long will they thrive if the nightlife is going to get worse and worse?
“There is no campaign like this in Chesterfield already, which I was surprised and shocked at.”
One of the people in support of Yvonne’s calls for action is Chesterfield alcohol awareness campaigner, Gary Topley, who says that ‘sober hot spots’ - places where people can go to have non-alcoholic drinks and listen to music - which are currently in use in some cities across the UK - should be explored.
Mr Topley said: “They are a brilliant idea. If people want to go out but not drink alcohol they can do that and not feel left out.
“I think that ‘pre-loading’ has been a problem for a while. I have always said that it is a bad idea. People are arriving at town already drunk and that is when problems occur.
“If people are going to have a drink then do it sensibly. Have a drink and have a dance but make sure that you do it sensibly.”
Benjamin Edwards, aged 21, of Fieldview Place, Chesterfield, has been charged with the manslaughter of Mr Henchliffe. Mr Edwards is due to appear at Nottingham Crown Court in May next year. He denies the charge.
At Derby Crown Court in September, Mr Edwards was released on conditional bail. As part of his bail conditions, Mr Edwards must wear an electronic tag between the hours of 9pm and 7am and must not go into Chesterfield town centre unless he has a pre-arranged appointment with his solicitors.
Two other 24-year-old men were arrested on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm and later released on police bail pending further enquiries.