A GRIEVING mother relived the nightmare moment she found out her much-loved son had been brutally murdered.

Just over a week before Christmas last year, on a dark, December night, the phone rang at Val Watson’s home in Great Lumley where Mark Shaw grew up.

The 56-year-old school catering assistant was told by her nephew of rumours he had been tied up and stabbed.

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Her world crumbled with the news her happy-go-lucky boy was dead.

The Northern Echo:

MISSED: Mark Shaw

“It was horrible. I was upstairs watching telly. I thought: ‘No, it cannot be true, it cannot be true. Please God, let this be a hoax’.

“I drove up with my sisters and there was police cars and ribbons all around his house.

“I knew it was true.

“The police said: ‘We have reason to believe it is Mark Shaw’.

“I was screaming: ‘Please let me go and see him. Please let me go and give him a kiss’.

“They wouldn’t let us go in. I was screaming and sick. Then I had my two girls, friends and family. I had to tell everyone what had happened.”

As the investigation continued further details of the barbaric attack which killed Mark emerged.

Newcastle Crown Court was told he had been tied up with rope and a phone charger while he was beaten with a pool cue, punched, kicked and bitten before being finally stabbed to death.

A post mortem found over 80 injures on his head, neck and torso.

After a three week trial at Newcastle Crown Court his so-called friend, Kieran Adey, 19, of Grange Villa, and former girlfriend Zoe Warren, 20, were convicted of his murder.

But for his family there will no ‘closure’.

Mrs Watson, and his two sisters, Michaela and Haley, remain traumatised by what happened to the loveable joker who looked after their children.

The Northern Echo:

LOVEABLE JOKER: Mark Shaw

“I didn’t want to be here when it first happened but then I thought about the girls. We are all having counselling. We are not the same people.

“Our own relationships have suffered. Our husbands do not know what to say to us anymore.

“One moment you can be alright and the next you can be on the floor. I cannot ever, ever accept the fact I will never see my son again.

“We have had to have his 30th birthday without him and the bairns’ birthdays without him. There was Christmas last year. It upsets me to see my girls like this. It is the impact it is having on everyone. You can be anywhere and you just break down. It is constant and it is every day. There is not a day goes by where we are not crying and breaking our hearts.”

Mark, who went to primary school in Great Lumley before attending Park View School in Chester-le-Street, worked occasionally as a painter and decorator and helped Kieran Adey’s father with his scrap round.

But he never held down a regular job, described by his family as a ‘free spirit’.

The trial was told his nickname was Alcy Mark, after his fondness for drinking, and his sister, Micheala Holmes, agreed he ‘liked a drink’.

His family knew he had dabbled in drugs – the court heard he suffered a heroin overdose the night he died – but they maintain he was not ‘druggie’.

Mrs Holmes remembers a charming, funny little brother who would ‘blag his way through life’, do magic tricks for children and be the ‘life and soul’ of every party.

She said: “He had loads of friends and he was such a caring person.

“He used to make everyone laugh. He was so kind and he would do anything for anyone. All the kids around the street used to call him ‘Uncle Mark’.

“He made mistakes in friends that he chose. He trusted people too much and would always forgive them.”

A mandatory life sentence awaits Adey and Warren and it will be for Judge James Goss to decide how long they must serve before they are eligible for parole.

It is conceivable though that both could be released in their 30s, while they are young enough to rebuild their lives.

Mark’s sister, Haley Richardson, 35, who is full time carer and mother-of-two, said: “At the end of the day it is us that is living with the life sentence.

“It is us that is left with it, not them.”

Mrs Watson, who works at The Hermitage School, said: “The only way there can be justice is if they come out of there in wooden boxes.

“I will never get my son back.

“Before Mark left every time he would give me a cuddle and kiss my cheek. He would say: ‘I love you Mam’. I will never have that again.”