Widow of 'hero' begs for help to catch killer

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The widow of a man who was killed by two suspected car thieves broke down in tears yesterday as she hailed her husband as a hero and appealed for witnesses to the attack.

Kevin Jackson, 31, was stabbed in the head and severely beaten in Copley Lane, Halifax, West Yorkshire, on Sunday morning after chasing the men. Mr Jackson, who was the father of two sons, Jake, seven, and Tom, 15 months, was taken to hospital for his injuries but died on New Year's Day.

Speaking at Halifax police station, Julie Jackson, 33, made an emotional appeal for people to come forward with information and spoke of her acute sense of injustice at losing a "heroic" husband so abruptly.

"Ten days ago, we were a normal family enjoying Christmas with our two boys. I have been sitting beside Kevin for three days in hospital willing him to live," said Mrs Jackson, who was accompanied by her 30-year-old brother, Mark Wayman, for support.

She said: "I have had to take our Jake to hospital to kiss Daddy goodbye because he isn't coming home. I have told Jake that Daddy's a hero. Please help us find out who has done this to our family. I just want someone to please say who did it. I have lost my best friend."

West Yorkshire Police said Mr Jackson, who was a maintenance engineer, ran after the two men outside his home after he and his wife found them trying to steal a Toyota car owned by Mrs Jackson's parents, at 2.15pm on 31 December.

He was discovered with severe head injuries after being attacked with a screwdriver-type implement and never regained consciousness.

Detective Superintendent Bob Bridgestock said Mr Jackson had received five "stab-type" puncture wounds to his head, one of which penetrated his skull. "It was a savage attack. It was extremely brutal and he was left to die in the street," he said.

More than 50 officers have been enlisted to undertake the investigation, which will include visiting all known car criminals in the area. House-to-house inquiries are under way and the Toyota that the two men were trying to steal is being examined by forensic experts.

Det Supt Bridgestock emphasised the need for justice and urged local criminals not to protect Mr Jackson's attackers.

"Those who did this should not be protected. This is not property theft, this is the destruction of people's lives," he said, adding that while the police advise the public to avoid confronting criminals, Mr Jackson had reacted instinctively by racing after the two men.

"It was reactive, he was immediately out of the house and was giving chase. I don't think he stopped to think who or how many he was going to meet. We say to people: 'Do not confront'. If we have time to think, most of us don't, but in a lot of cases crimes happen spontaneously and people react. He acted instinctively. He did what most of us would do if property is being broken into," said Det Supt Bridgestock.

Minutes before the fatal encounter, Mr Jackson had been dozing on the sofa at his home when he was alerted by his wife, who had spotted the two suspects from an upstairs bedroom, that someone was tampering with her parents' car.

Mr Jackson, who was 6ft 4ins tall, immediately ran out of the house while his wife rang the emergency services.

The two offenders attempting to break into the Toyota are described as white, aged 18 to 22, with short dark hair and athletically built. One was sitting inside the vehicle when they were spotted.