The parents of a teenager murdered by a rival following an online feud have warned about the dangers of social media on the first anniversary of their son’s death.
Josh Hall was 17 when he was stabbed to death by Harley Demmon, who was aged just 15 at the time of the attack at a sports ground in Cam, near Dursley in Gloucestershire.
Their had been hostility between the two boys on Snapchat and other platforms over insulting comments towards a girl that Demmon wrongly believed Josh had made.
The pair had arranged to meet and “sort out their differences”, but Dennom was armed with a knife and stabbed Josh six times during a confrontation that lasted just two minutes.
Demmon denied murder but was convicted in November last year and jailed for life with a minimum term of 14 years by a judge at Gloucester Crown Court.
On the first anniversary of her son’s death, Josh’s mother Kristy Hall said: “I miss him with every single beat of my heart.
“My house doesn’t feel right, my family doesn’t feel right, my life doesn’t feel right.”
In an interview with Gloucestershire Police posted on the force’s YouTube channel, Mrs Hall said: “You go from a keyboard into a real-time situation very, very quickly and you could damage your life, someone else’s life – just think about what you’re doing.
“Think about the impact of your words, of your actions, on others. If you’re in a situation where you’ve gone so far, it’s never too late to stop, it’s really not.
“If Harley had that day had gone ‘I’m not taking my knife’, Josh would still be here.”
Mrs Hall said social media had given Demmon “access” to Josh.
#WATCH One year after his death, the parents of 17-year-old Josh Hall pay tribute to their ‘amazing’ son who was stabbed to death in #Dursley last year. In this video, Josh’s parents recall the tragic events of that day & the role social media played in the lead up to his murder. pic.twitter.com/K0qmHrgBl8
— Glos Police (@Glos_Police) April 17, 2022
Paying tribute to her son, Mrs Hall said: “Josh was amazing – very cheeky, very funny, lots of charisma, you couldn’t be mad at him for long because he would just make you laugh.”
Mike Hall, Josh’s father, said social media had allowed a situation to rapidly escalate to a point “where a young man felt that he had to take a knife and stab someone to prove that he was as violent as he was telling everybody that he was”.
Mr Hall continued: “Parents need to probably have a greater level of understanding of what these social media platforms are and how they operate.
“Snapchat in particular, seems to be the go-to method that teenagers communicate.”
In a plea to parents of teenagers, Mrs Hall said: “Check in with your children, just check in with them and look for red flags, just look and act on them – [that] would absolutely be my advice.”
Asked how she wanted people to remember her son, Mrs Hall replied: “As Josh – as caring, funny, cheeky. He always had time for everybody, he’s got an amazing smile, and he was overall kind.
“And that’s how I want him remembered, as the kind person he that was and the impact that he had on his peers and on his friends.”
After his conviction, Mr Justice Chamberlain decided to lift an anonymity order protecting Demmon’s identity.
Passing sentence, he said: “You were teenagers in Gloucestershire, but you spoke in the patois of urban gangsters.
“You intended to be fearless when in fact you were deeply insecure.
“You adopted the personas of hardened and fearless criminals.
“Perceived slights to honour or status were met by promises of violence.”