The father of man murdered by an armed gang has said he has to “live with the noise” of the scream when he broke the news to his son’s mother.
Reece Ottaway, 23, was killed by five men armed with a machete, a BB gun and a baseball bat who broke into his Northampton flat on 1 February 2019.
Mr Ottaway’s father, David, had to break the news to his ex-wife over the phone in the early hours.
“How do you tell his mum that her firstborn is dead?” he asked.
Speaking publicly for the first time ahead of the anniversary of his son’s death, Mr Ottaway said: “To hear the scream and crying – I’ve got to live with that noise in my head for the rest of my life.
“All I heard was screaming ‘my baby’s gone, they’ve took my baby, they’ve killed my baby’.”
He said he had found out his son had been selling drugs when he was aged about 20, but was concerned “if I try to stop him from doing it it could push him further into it”.
“I did try to lecture him a couple of times about it but he was like, ‘dad I know what I’m doing’.”
Mr Ottaway said police knocked on his door at just before 03:00 GMT and, when told his son had died, he “didn’t want to believe it”.
Police confirmed his son’s tattoos, “one on each hand, ‘dad’ with my date of birth and ‘mom’ with her date of birth”, Mr Ottaway said.
“I knew at that very moment my whole world had just come crashing down on me, my firstborn child taken,” he said.
The group that broke into Reece Ottaway’s flat, while he slept with his girlfriend, inflicted more than 20 wounds on him, left him to die and stole two mobile phones and £10 in cash.
Four were later convicted of murder and given life sentences, while another was found guilty of manslaughter and jailed for 16 years. The judge said they had seen Mr Ottaway, who would have become an uncle later in the year, as a rival drug dealer.
Mr Ottaway said the message about the damage knives can do “needs to be plastered everywhere”.
“Some people think ‘OK I’ll take a knife out with me because it protects me’, but all it takes is getting into that wrong altercation and you stab that person wrong, that’s death.
“You’ve got to live with that for the rest of your life.”