His last words were ‘I love you’ – then he was killed: mother’s heartache after son murdered with zombie knife

Exclusive: Hayley Ryall is leading a campaign against knife crime in the name of her son, Mikey, who was stabbed to death at a 16th birthday party

Alex Ross
Friday 03 May 2024 18:41
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Mikey Roynon was proudly wearing his new tracksuit and trainers – bought for him by his mother to mark the start of his GCSE exams – when he came bounding down the stairs at his family home in Kingswood, near Bristol.

The 16-year-old had said he was heading to Nando’s with some friends while his mother Hayley Ryall was going to a work event in Birmingham, leaving Mikey overnight with a friend for the first night.

“I saw him come down and I smiled and said: ‘You look bloody handsome,’” Ms Ryall told The Independent. “He smiled back and then, as he walked out of the door, he turned around and said, ‘I love you.’

“And that’s how I’ll remember the last time I saw him.”

Hours later, Mikey, 16, was stabbed to death in the neck with a zombie knife at a 16th birthday party in Bath.

Ms Ryall, a Slimming World consultant, knew something was wrong when she discovered 37 missed calls on her mobile – mostly from Mikey. But she had no idea that her entire world was about to crumble.

Mikey had gone to Nando’s the night he died – but unknown to his mother he then went to a party in Bath where he died (Hayley Ryall)

“Mikey’s friends were calling me from his phone, and when I called back they said he’d been stabbed and that he’d gone,” she said.

“I couldn’t – I didn’t – believe it at first. I sent my friend to the nearby hospital to find him and got another friend to drive me to Bath. But when I arrived, I found out he didn’t make it to the hospital.

“I saw at the address [of the house party] there was a forensic tent and officers walking around in white suits. A police officer told me what happened and said I should go home. I was stunned. I can’t explain the feeling.”

That night was the beginning of a devastating time for Mikey’s mother.

In the nine months that followed, she buried her son and relived the night he died during a five-week trial that ended with one teenager convicted of murder and two others of manslaughter.

On Friday, they were sentenced, and named by the hduge who lifted reported restrictions. Shane Cunningham was found guilty of murder and been detained for life with a minimum 16 years to serve.

Cartel Bushnell and Leo Knight, both aged 16, were found guilty of manslaughter and received sentences of nine years and nine-and-a-half years’ in youth detention.

“It was the best result that we could have got,” Ms Ryall said of the conviction.

“The one boy being found guilty of murder, that was my main focus. I thought it would make no difference, but actually it made a huge difference and made me feel like we got justice for Mikey.”

The trial heard how Mikey had gone to the party with a group of friends when trouble flared in the back garden and he was stabbed in the neck. He collapsed on the front driveway, and later died.

The convicted boys, not known to Mikey, arrived at the party by bus from Wiltshire. CCTV footage from the bus showed what detectives said was a large knife down one of their trousers.

Mikey Roynon was described as “funny, caring and full of life” by his mother Hayley Ryall (Hayley Ryall)

One of the boys admitted stabbing Mikey, but he said it was part of an act of self-defence – a claim the jury dismissed in its verdict, finding him guilty of murder.

The two other boys, who jurors heard were also armed with knives, were also held responsible for the attack, and both convicted of manslaughter.

“I don’t think they knew who they were doing it to – I don’t believe they even knew Mikey,” said Ms Ryall. “All the boys [including Mikey] had balaclavas on, I don’t think you could tell who was who.

“I feel so angry at them because they’ve caused so much pain. Mikey was my world, and I miss him every day.”

Since her son’s death, Ms Ryall said her life had been “horrendous”.

The teenager still had two GCSE exams to take when he was killed. Weeks later, when his mother received his results, she took them to his grave at Kingswood Cemetery to open them with his friend. He had obtained grades ranging from 4 to 6 in the exams he had taken.

“I wanted him to see how well he’d done,” she said.

Mikey was buried at a well-attended funeral in a replacement tracksuit of the one bought for him before he died.

Now, following the trial, Ms Ryall is focusing on a group she’s set up in his name, Mikey’s World, aimed at tackling knife crime locally. It’s also distributing bleed control kits – a bag containing items such as bandages to stop bleeding from injuries such as a stab wound – at pubs, sports clubs and halls, with more than 120 already rolled out.

Mikey celebrating his 16th birthday at his home in Kingswood, near Bristol (Hayley Ryall)

A total of £20,000 has been raised for the group, soon to be registered as a charity.

Mikey’s death was one of a spate of fatal teenage stabbings in the Bath and Bristol region. A month before Mikey was stabbed, 18-year-old Ben Moncrieff was killed outside McDonald’s in Bath city centre, where a task force on knife crime has now been set up by the local council.

In Bristol, teenagers Max Dixon, aged 16, and Mason Rist, 15, were stabbed to death in January. A month later, 16-year-old Darrian Williams was also killed in a stabbing.

Ms Ryall said: “If I knew my son was going to that party I’d have said no. There are so many young people carrying knives, it is everywhere.

“I’m not sure if it’s gangs, or the whole postcode thing – but if you have a party where there are a lot of different friend groups coming together, that’s when there is a danger.

“Mikey was really switched on, but he didn’t stand a chance. We all need to do more to stamp this out. Tougher sentences, better support. Too many lives have been lost.”

Latest figures from the Ministry of Justice showed 26 per cent of knife crime offences committed by teenagers under 18 resulted in a reprimand, warning or youth caution in the year ending September 2023. Eight per cent resulted in an immediate sentence.

Locally, Avon and Somerset Police has been working with Bath and North East Somerset Council, and other agencies, in attempting to divert young people away from crime.

The groups have also held open events with parents to help them keep their children safe, with three held at local schools over the past month.

Detective Inspector Mark Newbury, the senior investigating officer, said: “Our communities are also key and we’d like to encourage parents to talk to their children about knife crime – to make sure that they understand the terrible consequences carrying a knife can have and also how to report if they have concerns about someone they know carrying a knife.”

The three boys convicted of killing Mikey will be sentenced at Bristol Crown Court on 3 May.

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