Brother tells of heartbreak after brutal murder

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DEVASTATED Eugene Scardifield has told of his family’s heartbreak after his brother was murdered.

But the 38-year-old gas engineer is now hoping to use his grief to help others, as he prepares to take on a mammoth bike ride to raise awareness of a charity that supported him and his family.

Pictures of Eugene Scardifield with his brother Michael, who was murdered, and their mum Helen Smith

Pictures of Eugene Scardifield with his brother Michael, who was murdered, and their mum Helen Smith

Eugene’s brother, Michael Scardifield, 40 – who grew up in Portsmouth – was brutally strangled by his friend 29-year-old Martin Birchall at Michael’s flat in Stoke-on-Trent in May, 2015.

Eugene, of Restawyle Avenue, Hayling Island, said: ‘It has been tough, really tough. We have been helped as a family by SAMM, which stands for Support After Murder or Manslaughter. Without their help and support it would have been a lot harder and a lot tougher.

‘The trouble is that even though they are a national charity, they’re relatively unheard of. That means there are people out there suffering unnecessarily.

‘Everybody volunteering at the charity has lost someone they loved to murder or manslaughter, so they know what you are going through.

Eugene Scardifield

Eugene Scardifield

‘There were times that I thought I was going mad. I found milk in the cupboard, tea bags in the fridge, but when you speak to them they reassure you. It is a sense of relief to know there are other people that have gone through or are going through what you are.’

Birchall was sentenced to a minimum 18 years in jail following a trial by jury at Nottingham Crown Court in February this year.

Eugene said the trial was a traumatic process and that he still questions why Birchall was sentenced to only 18 years.

‘I really don’t understand the justice system,’ he said.

‘I hear cases where people get 27 years for murder. It makes you question whether my brother’s life was less significant. He callously killed my brother.

‘My brother was the kindest, sweetest man. He was no saint, I wouldn’t paint him out to be, but he wouldn’t hurt a fly. He did not like confrontation.’

Eugene said he still suffers from post-traumatic stress after the incident, and that his three sisters and mum Helen Smith were hit hard by the murder.

Eugene said: ‘It’s hard to describe just how difficult it is. Mum is going through it worse than any of us. You should not have to arrange the funeral of your own son.’

Michael lived in Portsmouth, Plymouth, Tangmere and Chichester while he was growing up as his stepdad was in the navy.

He spent the majority of his teenage years at Chichester High School for Boys and he held jobs at Crown Bingo in Leigh Park and at Waterlooville tip. He had lived in Stoke for seven years when he was killed.

Eugene said he hoped to bring some positivity from the situation by helping others – but he has faced challenges.

He said: ‘It’s a difficult charity to fundraise for. Straight away when you say it is for my brother who was murdered, there’s an elephant in the room. People don’t know what to say or how to act.’

SAMM offers support to those bereaved by the murder or manslaughter of a family member or close friend.

Eugene added: ‘I’m trying to do my best to get positivity from it. If you have lost a loved one or they were taken from you, whether it was yesterday or 15 years ago, this charity can help you.’

For more on the charity, go online at samm.org.uk or call 0845 8723440.

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Eugene hopes to raise cash through bike ride

A CHARITY bike ride will see Eugene Scardifield cover more than 200 miles to raise awareness of a charity close to his heart.

The 38-year-old will set off from Hayling Island and head for Crewe, where the charity he is supporting, SAMM, has a support centre.

He will set off on September 5 and cycle to Newbury, then to Cheltenham, where he will stay overnight. He will then head for Wolverhampton, before finally arriving at the centre, 204 miles later.

He said: ‘I’m not a cyclist. I’ve been out logging my training rides on Strava and uploading them to Facebook so people can follow my progress.

‘SAMM needs as much support as it can get.’

SAMM, which stands for Support After Murder and Manslaughter, is a nationwide charity that offers support to those bereaved by murder or manslaughter.

Its CEO Rose Dixon said: ‘I’m amazed that people like Eugene, who are absolutely floored by this awful bereavement, can pick themselves up and do something so they can help others. I’m in awe of them. We’re so appreciative.’

Eugene has already been sponsored by several Hayling Island businesses; Funland Hayling Island, Studio 6, Temptrol Air Conditioning, and D-Star Racewear.

To follow Eugene’s training go to facebook.com/Cycle-for-Michael-311315285909349/

To donate go to mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/eugenescardifield1