Olly Stephens was a young man – 13 years old – who grew up in Emmer Green, in Reading.
Olly was a loving, caring, and funny young man who was starting to get to grips with becoming a teenager. He enjoyed playing on his Xbox, pulling wheelies on his bike, watching films and eating his favourite foods (cheeseburgers, Dominoes pizza and fizzy drinks!). He liked all types of music and wrote his own rap songs.
He had recently been diagnosed with autism, and on considering his ‘autistic superpower’ as his Dad Stuart called it, he noted that Olly’s gift was love. “He touched so many lives without either us or himself knowing it”. Olly celebrated the difference between people; a staunch supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement and LGBTQ+ rights. He hated unfairness and went out of his way to support those he cared about, going so far as to shave his head in solidarity for his buddy at Emmer Green Primary School; a younger child who lost his hair while being treated for leukaemia.
On 3rd January 2021, a 13-year-old girl who Olly knew arranged to meet him in a local park. Olly believed that he was only meeting her and left his family home. The meeting was a set up.
A few weeks earlier, Olly had seen an image of a boy being ‘patterned’ – a term used by young people to describe when someone is humiliated on social media. He forwarded the image to the boy’s older brother, attempting to help.
Two older boys – 13 and 14 years old – found out what Olly had done. They were furious and – in online conversations between themselves and the girl – they devised a plan to lure Olly to the park and attack him. When Olly went to meet the girl in the park, he was ambushed by the two boys who attacked him and stabbed him.
The two boys were convicted of murder and received life sentences, with 13 year and 12 year minimum terms. The girl was convicted of manslaughter and was sentenced to 3 years and 2 months detention; it was later increased to 5 years.
One of Olly’s friends described the impact of his murder – “Olly’s death has deeply affected everyone here… the horrific events of January 3rd and their truly tragic outcome have produced deep and conflicting emotions within each of us — extreme shock, bottomless sorrow, anger, great pain, and confusion. These feelings can overwhelm us when we least expect it and will always be with us.”
“We miss Olly every minute, of every day, to know that he was lured out and ambushed following an agreed online plan, with other children present to watch, will haunt us for the rest of our lives. When I think of Olly, he is smiling at us, doing a little dance, and ready to give us a big hug. We feel broken hearted and wish that his life could have turned out differently.”
Olly’s Mum, Amanda