‘My auntie’s murder was the hardest time of my life’

Bianca Brathwaite (right) with her late auntie Alison Morrison
Bianca Brathwaite (right) with her late auntie Alison Morrison
Kirsty Craven with her five-month-old son Freddie at the house in Fisher Road, Bridgemary

Mum ‘devastated’ after council tells her to move out of family home

  • Alison Morrison was stabbed to death by her next-door neighbour
  • The successful marketing executive was brought up in Havant
  • Her niece tells of the impact of her death
  • She is organising a body combat event to raise money for a knife crime charity
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December 18, 2014, is a day that Bianca Brathwaite can remember in minute detail.

She has been over it in her mind, time and time again. Because it was the day her beloved aunt was murdered.

Bianca Brathwaite

Bianca Brathwaite

A year on and flashbacks to her mother’s shocked screams, cold white hospital wards and relatives shaking their heads in disbelief at the awful news replay over and over again like a film.

It began as an ordinary day at work for Bianca, who works for BMW.

But then she took a call from her cousin, who told her that her mum was on her way to pick her up because her aunt, Alison Morrison, had been hurt.

‘At first I thought she’d been injured in a car crash or something like that,’ says Bianca.

It breaks my heart every time I read that there’s been another stabbing because I know how it affects families

Bianca Brathwaite

‘My mum turned up, very upset, and said my auntie had been stabbed.

‘Even then I thought perhaps it was someone who had tried to steal her purse.’

The family rushed to the hospital in central London and, in their panic, went to the wrong one.

When they arrived at the right one they were met by relatives, shaking their heads.

Bianca says: ‘It was too late. She’d gone.’

Alison, an ambitious marketing executive, had been stabbed to death by her next door neighbour Trevor Gibbon following years of harassment.

Gibbon complained about the noise from Alison’s son Kori’s skateboard and, despite the Morrisons’ attempts to placate him, nothing seemed to satisfy him.

Gibbon went on to harass Alison by trapping her in her car, banging dustbin lids loudly at 6am below her window, and repeatedly flashing his car lights.

Alison was forced to install £2,000 of CCTV equipment to gather evidence.

The satellite TV engineer ambushed her as she walked to work just hours after he had admitted a campaign of harassment in court.

Armed with two knives, he dragged her to the ground and stabbed her 33 times.

The brutal killing took place near their homes in Harrow, north west London, just one day after Alison won a restraining order against Gibbon over a two-year noise row.

He was jailed for 28 years last June.

Bianca, of Meadway, Waterlooville, says: ‘It was absolutely horrific.

‘The first few months afterwards there was just numbness.

‘It felt like I was in a surreal world and it wasn’t really happening to my family.

‘Everyone was in bits. It was the hardest time of my life. Everyone is dealing with it in different ways.

‘I have flashbacks to what happened on that day.

‘Things will just pop into my head, like my mum screaming, turning up at the hospital.

‘ I can remember that day minute-by-minute. It was surreal.

‘I now know what it feels to be truly numb.’

Alison and her three sisters, Bianca’s mum Julie Brathwaite, Lorraine Brathwaite and Paula McLean, were devoted to each other.

The family grew up in Hooks Farm Way, Bedhampton, where their mum Valerie still lives, and were regulars at St Thomas’ Church in Bedhampton.

Alison went to Havant College and was the most career-driven of the four, going to Canterbury University before setting her sights on London and making it big in the publishing world.

She worked her way up to be a senior manager at Which? magazine and travelled around the world.

Bianca says: ‘She was just amazing.

‘She went out and did everything she wanted to achieve.

‘She was the only one in the family to go to university.

‘My auntie used to live in central London but moved to Harrow to give my cousin Kori a better life.

‘She was even part of the police Safer Neighbourhood Board because she wanted to make the area safer. She wanted to give something back.’

Bianca’s coping mechanism has been to keep busy.

And she has channelled her grief into body combat which she has now become a qualified instructor in.

Bianca is now organising a huge fundraising body combat event at the Mountbatten Centre, Portsmouth.

She is hoping to raise hundreds of pounds for the Ben Kinsella Trust which raises awareness of knife crime.

‘I hope that by raising money for the charity other families will not have to go through this’, says Bianca.

‘People need to be made aware of stuff like this.

‘It’s the kind of thing you think will never happen to your family.

‘You see things like it in the paper and think that it will never happen to you.

‘It breaks my heart every time I read that there’s been another stabbing because I know how it affects families.

‘I am more anxious than I was before but I’m also a stronger person and more ambitious.

‘Now I try to see the positives in everything because I realise that I’m not going to be in this world forever.’

RAISING MONEY IN MEMORY OF MY AUNTIE

Bianca Brathwaite has a passion for body combat, high-energy martial arts-inspired workout that is totally non-contact.

And she is using that to raise money for The Ben Kinsella Trust, in memory of her aunt Alison Morrison.

It is a charity that educates young people about knife crime.

Bianca is holding a body combat marathon which is open to all.

Bianca says: ‘Body Combat has saved me in so many ways.

‘I started before my auntie died and lost a lot of weight – three and a half stone. It made me feel amazing and I became addicted.

‘After Alison died I wasn’t sure what to do and my mum said “You’ve got to do this. Your auntie would be so mad with you if you stopped doing something you loved”.

‘I qualified in November and I just love it. No matter what sort of day I’ve had when I get to a class and there’s a great atmosphere I feel amazing by the end of it.

‘At first I thought I’d never see it through. I never stuck to any of the dance classes my mum took me to as a little girl. But body combat has helped me so much.

‘I had to study anatomy and physiology to qualify and I got really high marks. It makes it so much easier if you are interested in something.’

The body combat marathon is being held at the Mountbatten Centre, Portsmouth, on Sunday from 2.30pm.

Tickets are £20 each.

They can be bought from the centre or Fitness First in Havant and Waterlooville. Email combatknifecrime@hotmail.com.