whoever you want to be…

Losing Marvin

So, I normally post Sex Toy reviews – I recently blogged about the trials and tribulations of running Voluptasse – but today wanted to share something completely different. I hope you dont mind!

This week I’ve had some interesting developments with regards to the work that I do with Voluptasse to combat drug related violence in my local area, focusing in particular on knife crime and domestic violence.

Awareness of knife crime is of particular importance because of my older brother Marvin, who was sadly stabbed and killed in Todmorden in February 2002. Because I work with the community quite a lot with my refuge work and hospice events I wanted to use those connections to reach out to the public and tell them my story.

I will be working with the Police and local Press to raise awareness of the dangers of carrying knives and the consequences of impaired judgment through drugs and alcohol. I will be working with young offenders and also young people who have been carrying knives to talk to them about the human consequences of knife crime. Its not just about Prison, one moment of madness affects so many people.

I will be speaking at my first school on the 7th February and really hope that I manage to make an impression on the kids there. If just one life is saved then it would all be worth it.

So…. here’s my story. It isn’t a pretty one but here it is.

Speech For School

(Me and Marvin with Nana. I was just a baby here)

My name is Melissa MacFarlane and I am here to talk to you about my brother Marvin Whitehead.

First of all let me tell you a little about Marvin…

Marvin and I grew up in a very large family with three other brothers and two other sisters, we were brought up by our Dad who was a single parent and we were all very close. Marvin was a regular guy, pretty much the same as you and I who loved Michael Jackson, Eminem, a pint of Cider and and his beloved Roll Ups. He was six years older than me and a lot of fun to be around. He had learning difficulties and was therefore very childlike in the way that he acted and thought but we all loved him very much.

Marvin was a free spirit and often travelled to Todmorden to work, sometimes he would be gone for months and would simply turn up back at home when he felt like it. While he was in Todmorden he worked and boarded with a family called the Shackletons who sold fruit and veg.

One morning on the 2nd February 2002 there was a knock on the door which changed our lives forever. Our lovely big brother had been stabbed 18 times at a house in Todmorden and was dead. He was just 28 years old. He wasn’t a perfect person, like me and you he was human and made mistakes but we loved him and now he was never coming back.

(Our last Christmas with Marvin and the only proper picture that I have of him)

The story is that Marvin went to the house of a friend after they had been drinking and taking cocaine one evening. Marvin’s friend Geoffrey became paranoid because of the drugs and snuck up behind Marvin whilst he was watching television and stabbed him 18 times in the back. Marvin tried to run into the kitchen but never stood a chance against such a ferocious attack.

After a failed attempt to escape, Marvin collapsed and died on the kitchen floor. According to the forensic evidence it would have taken half an hour for his body to shut down. I only hope that he lost consciousness very quickly. Every single night before I go to sleep, I am plagued by thoughts of my brother lying cold and frightened on a strange floor just waiting to die. I wonder if he desperately thought that help would arrive, or if he thought about us, his family.

We’ll never know, and it tears me apart.

If I was to try describe how it feels to have someone that you love so much torn away from you in such a violent and cruel way it wouldn’t be possible. There are no words to describe that feeling. Even now I don’t feel settled, I have part of me that has been taken away and there will always be a hole in my heart that can never be fixed. It’s a horrible feeling and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

My Dad went to identify Marvin’s body and said that he looked like he was sleeping, I still refused to believe that it was him. I was so sure that there had been a mistake, I remember desperately hoping and praying that he would turn up somewhere and everyone would be amazed at the huge mistake that had been made. But obviously he never did.

After 2 weeks of tests and examinations we were allowed to bring my brother’s body back to Blackburn. Still sure that it had been a huge mistake, I remember walking in to the Funeral parlour to confirm the identity (to myself) once and for all of the person was led in that coffin. It was a sight that I will never forget, he was a very strange colour and his face looked strangely collapsed. Everything about him looked wrong, but it was him. There was no arguing with what was in front of my eyes it was definitely my brother. They said that because of the tests they’d had to run on his body and the length of time that he had been dead his body had started to deteriorate and that’s why he looked so odd.

That’s the last memory I have of my brother, glancing at his decomposing body just to make sure it was him.

After Marvin’s death our close knit family began to unravel. For the 3 weeks leading up to the funeral we were all on auto pilot. Planning the Funeral, consoling people and sorting out his belongings. It was when we were left to our own thought that the problems started.

Unable to cope with his grief my Dad, who already had a problem with alcohol hit the drink even harder. Three years after Marvin died my Dad also passed away, he literally drank himself into an early grave. He was consumed by grief and guilt because he felt that he hadn’t been there to protect his son. We are all plagued by guilt that we hadn’t done anything to protect him, even though we couldn’t possibly have known what was going to happen that night.

The death of Marvin hit us hard as a family, my brother turned to drugs and is now facing a lengthy prison sentence. My older sister never speaks about it, she finds it too difficult. I have lots of nightmares and spent years searching for an answer as to why Geoffrey stabbed my brother. I tried a counsellor to help me with my grief. As soon as she asked me my name I burst into tears and couldn’t speak for the rest of the session, I never went back because I found it too difficult to deal with.

The man who killed my brother is currently serving a life sentence in prison; I wrote to him in Prison a few years ago and begged him to tell me why he killed my brother. I told him about my nightmares and my father’s death and the pain of losing Marvin and the effect his actions had had on my family. The only explanation that he could provide was that he was so full of drink and drugs that his judgment was clouded. It was because of drugs and drink that my brother was dead.

They both put themselves in a dangerous situation and now everyone was paying the price for it. Two families lost their sons and their brothers that night, his family are suffering because he is wasting his life in a prison cell and ours because we lost our brother. There are so many lives affected by the decisions that we make and because of the choices made on that awful night on the 1st February our lives will never be the same again.


5 comments on “Losing Marvin

  1. Susan
    January 20, 2013

    Such a sad story – you are very brave to write about it. I hope everyone who hears you talk on this subject listens carefully to what you have to say.

  2. Erin Le Clerc
    January 20, 2013

    Melissa, thank you for sharing your story. I’m so sad that this happened to your family, but I feel grateful that you’re taking the opportunity to share your story with us – and with young people in the community – in the hope that we better understand the impact of drugs and violence. I hope that one day you find peace. Your story will make a difference. xx

  3. traisbeck
    January 25, 2013

    This is incredibly powerful. Thank you for sharing your story.

  4. Gee
    January 26, 2013

    What a terrible story, and how brave and honest of you to share it..

    I googled the case and the killer tried to claim in court that your brother had made sexual advances to him which caused him to flip out and attack him..really he was trying to blame your brother for his own murder. a truly despicable defence which thankfully the jury saw through..dont beat yourself up over whys and whens, please…some people do evil and hateful things and never take responsibility for their own actions: your brother – I think – was killed because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time and with the wrong person.

    • voluptasse
      January 26, 2013

      Thank you, yes Geoffrey claimed that he thought that my brother was going to kiss him but later admitted that it was the drugs that made him think this and he was probably mistaken. It’s a very sad case.
      I am so pleased that the jury managed to see through such a dreadful defence. It was hard enough to lose a brother through something like this but then to have his name dragged through the mud made things so much harder to bear.
      After the trial Geoffrey completely retracted this defence and made a statement to his Solicitor. Unfortunately his Solicitor failed to pass this on to us and my Dad never saw it before he passed away. When I wrote to Geoffrey and asked him to tell me the truth I was informed of this and it did bring us some comfort.

Comments are closed.


This entry was posted on January 20, 2013 by in Bea Current, Bea Family and tagged .
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