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Heartbroken family of student who was stabbed to death reveal their ‘immeasurable’ loss

“Did he know he was going to die? Was he suffering? How long did it take? All those things just torture you forever, knowing you couldn’t do anything to save your child.”

These are the heart-wrenching words of a Mansfield student’s mother whose son was stabbed to death while he was travelling through the Netherlands.

Twenty-two-year-old Danny Castledine was on his way to a music festival in Belgium with a friend when they decided to stop off in Amsterdam for the day.

He would tragically never make it to the event however, after being attacked at random by a man in the street who proceeded to stab him 44 times before dumping his body down some steps.

Nearly two years have now passed since Danny lost his life on 1 June 2022, but for his devastated family, the “immeasurable” pain caused by his loss has only intensified.

“What people don’t realise is our lives have gone as well – we’ve got nothing left”, said mum Alison.

“To know your child died like that is something you can’t ever erase from your mind. We saw Danny in his coffin after he came home, and that picture will stay with me forever.

“We saw every wound on his body, on his face, on his neck, on his hands, where he’d tried to fight for freedom. That will never ever leave me – just thinking what his last minutes were like.

“The impact is immeasurable and you just cannot put into words what it’s like. Your happiest times turn into your worst times.

“You dread birthdays, Christmases, holidays, as they’re all too painful, and the longer it goes on, it gets harder because you realise you’re never going to see him again.”

Sister Chloe added:

“We haven’t just lost a son and a brother, we’ve lost ourselves as well. As a family, you’ve just always got that person missing.

“I feel exactly the same now as I did the minute I heard Danny had died. I still ring him all the time and text him. It’s just not sunk in.”

Danny had just returned from a Caribbean cruise with his family in the days leading up to his death, with the avid traveller then setting off on his trip to Belgium after returning to Nottinghamshire.

Within 48-hours of him leaving, the Castledine family home was visited by police, who told them that Danny had been killed.

“You go straight into autopilot, but I remember every second of it clearly,” said Alison.

“I remember falling to the floor and saying, ‘no, Danny, it can’t be Danny’, and looking at Chloe, who was saying ‘no, he’s my best friend, I can’t cope without him’.”

Chloe said:

“I remember hearing Danny leave in the middle of the night and not getting up to say goodbye, because he’d been at university for months at a time, and I thought it’s just for the weekend, he’s going to be back in a couple of days.

“That’s one of my biggest regrets, hearing him leave and not knowing that’s the last time he’s ever going to walk out the door.”

Danny’s killer – a Belgian national referred to as Nongo B – was captured soon afterwards and was jailed for 14 years in January after being convicted of manslaughter by a Dutch court.  

The Castledine family visited the spot where Danny died after flying to the Netherlands for the sentencing hearing, where Chloe – now 22 herself – read a powerful impact statement to her big brother’s killer.

She said:

“Standing where it happened, you can’t even imagine that your feet are stood where his feet were.

“Looking down the steps where his body was thrown and kicked – there were crisp packets, rubbish, cigarettes – just thinking that your brother was lying there dead for nearly an hour and nobody noticed.

“He was just there, covered in his own blood, possibly still alive, but couldn’t call for help.

“Somebody that you’ve loved for your entire life and spent every day with. Then somebody just threw him away like he was completely nothing.”

She added:

“It was shocking to look into the eyes of the last person that saw my brother alive and to see them just completely deadpan, with no emotion, no remorse, nothing.

“He doesn’t believe he’s done anything wrong and that makes it a million times harder. It’s completely inhuman.”

The family were joined in the Netherlands by a specialist Nottinghamshire Police family liaison officer (FLO), with Alison thanking them for providing them with “invaluable” support.

She said:

“It was just so hard with it being abroad, the language barrier and nothing being the same, but the FLO was so helpful and has been very supportive right up until this day.

“At the time when you don’t feel able to do anything, they’re invaluable really because your brain is like mush and you can’t think what to do yourselves, so you need someone there who is able to help you and think for you.”

The Castledine family chose to speak to Nottinghamshire Police about what happened, as part of Sceptre – a national knife crime week of action – which runs from today (13 May) until Sunday 19 May.

And after experiencing the nightmare scenario of losing their child, parents Alison and Paul have made a heartfelt plea to anyone – especially young people – thinking of carrying a knife to think about the devastation it could cause.

Alison, herself a headteacher, said:

“Think about your own lives, think about the impact on your family – how would your mum and sister feel knowing that you’ve killed somebody?

“You could throw your whole future away, just by one act of stupidity.

“Children need to know that the consequences will impact their lives forever, never mind ours. Why would you want to put your life on that path when it’s not necessary? You should value your life more than to do that.”

Dad Paul added:

“You watch the news and see it’s happened to someone else but it’s like a separate world and you don’t expect things like that to happen to you.

“I just can’t fathom where this generation came from where they now have it in their heads, I need to carry a knife for self-defence.

“Like the statistics say, you’re more likely to get stabbed with your own knife than anyone else’s, so I just don’t get where it’s come from. They just don’t get the consequences.”

In the aftermath of Danny’s death, Chloe has led a dedicated push by the family to create a positive legacy for her brother and to educate more people about the dangers associated with knife crime.

The Danny C Foundation was recently set up to tell Danny’s story and to get these life-saving messages across, with a charity launch event set to take place at Nottingham’s National Justice Museum on Saturday 15 June.    

“If I had to describe Danny in one word, it would just be ‘happy’, said Chloe.

“When we were together, it was just like when we were little kids again – he was so laidback, carefree, and happy enjoying his life.

“We could be doing anything and it’d be the best day ever because Danny made everything the best day ever.”

She continued:

“With us, if that one person hadn’t picked up a knife, how many people would’ve been better for it? I would be a completely different person, Danny might still be here, my mum and dad would be completely different.

“That’s what we’re trying to do by providing this education around knife crime, and if it could just save one person’s life for their community around them, that’d be enough.”

Mum Alison added:

“We didn’t talk to Danny about knife crime because he would’ve never known anyone with a knife or mixed with anyone with a knife. It was just a random attack and Danny did nothing wrong.

“So much could be done to support people to stop them becoming involved in situations where they feel like they need a knife to protect themselves, and we just wanted to educate people on this.

“When Danny was alive, it frustrated me that he was so laidback but now I just think, I’m so glad he lived that life, because he loved every minute of it. It was almost like he knew he had to pack everything into 22 years.

“It is hard; we have days where we think that we can’t do this anymore, and then you have days where you think we’ve got to do it for Danny because otherwise it was all for nothing, so that’s what keeps us going.”

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