How trivial argument over motorbike in Great Yarmouth street should never have led to 21-year-old Shane Boulton’s death
Any death is a tragedy, but particularly when it need not have happened in the first place. A row about a motorbike proved to be the catalyst for an argument which led to the death of Shane Boulton as PETER WALSH reports.
Shane Boulton should still be here to be a father to his child and stepchild and a partner, son, brother and friend to everyone else who loved him and knew him.
But the 21-year-old lost his life after he was stabbed by neighbour Katy Bown, 18, close to his home in Stanley Terrace, Great Yarmouth on June 19 last year.
The single stab wound to the heart was delivered at about 7.45pm following an earlier heated argument between Bown and Mr Boulton's girlfriend which he later became involved in.
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The initial argument stemmed from the fact Mr Boulton, a keen motorcyclist, had been riding his trial bike in the roads and alleyways near to Stanley Terrace while Bown was trying to get her two-year-old child to sleep.
Bown, who was 17 at the time, is took exception to this and, after becoming embroiled in a full blown argument with Mr Boulton's partner - during which she was pushed to the face by Mr Boulton - she went home, collected a knife and stabbed the victim once to the chest.
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Witnesses have described Mr Boulton being 'shocked' following the stabbing before he takes off his T-shirt looks at the wound and collapses in the street.
Despite the best efforts of paramedics, who took Mr Boulton to the James Paget University Hospital, he died as a result of the single stab wound to the heart.
Bown, who Norwich Crown Court heard has an IQ (Intelligence Quotient) of just 66, an average IQ is 100, and a 'limited repertoire of coping skills' because of her learning difficulties' claimed she acted in self-defence.
Fearing she might be attacked again Bown, who is originally from the Isle of Wight and had only moved to the area six months earlier after spending much of her life in Leicester, she said she armed herself with a knife to scare off Mr Boulton who she said she had seen with a knife.
But the truth is this was a needless death and the waste of the life of a much loved man who certainly did not deserve to die in these circumstances.
The end of the argument should have been the end of the story, not the beginning of the end for Mr Boulton and the rest of his heartbroken family.
They now must live on with the knowledge that not only is he no longer here, but that he lost his life as a result of something which started over the most trivial of disputes.
A 42-year-old man who lives on Stanley Terrace, but did not want to be named, said: 'I heard a couple of times the groans (about his motorbikes) but he wasn't doing any harm with it.
'A verbal dispute is a dispute but to stab someone, as far as I'm concerned in cold blood...it wasn't a major problem and it certainly didn't warrant him getting killed.
'He seemed like a nice lad. He certainly didn't warrant getting stabbed to death. I think it could've been a pain, but if anyone would've said to him he'd have stopped. That's the impression I got of the guy - he wasn't malicious or wouldn't have told anyone to sod off.'
Detective Chief Inspector Jes Fry, from the Joint Norfolk and Suffolk Major Investigation Team (MIT) said: 'This is a tragic incident which has destroyed the lives of two young people and their families.
'The escalation into violence was not necessary and could so easily have been avoided. There will be neighbourly disputes and falling outs involving neighbours all over the place and you don't expect it to escalate to this level of violence.
'It's something which could easily have been avoided had she remained indoors; there was no need for her to come out, she was safe in the house.
'One can feel sympathy for her in that she's trying to cope with a small child in a house, but it's an extreme reaction to go out and stab someone.'
The tragic case has prompted Det Chf Insp Fry to issue a message to other people who find themselves in a similar situation.
He said: 'Incidents like this - neighbour disputes, people falling out - are going to happen all the time and it's really unfortunate it's reached this level of violence.
'I just think people need to take time to step back and consider the consequences of their actions. It's. I think, unlikely that this sort of thing is going to happen very often - it's very unusual.
'At the end of the day anyone who takes a knife with them into a confrontation is likely to cause some serious harm either to themselves or someone else and people really need to think about what they're doing.'
Shane Boulton, a motorcross enthusiast, was born in Chorley in Lancashire in 1989 and lived with his mother Pauline Boulton.
However, when she died he moved to Yarmouth in 2003 to live with his father Ronald, known as Ronnie, and attended Sidestrand School in Cromer before pursuing his love of motor vehicles, training as a mechanic at Mr Clutch Autocentre in Yarmouth.
His tragic death, which came just weeks after he had started work at the Haven Seashore Holiday Park in Yarmouth and just a month or so before his 22nd birthday, devastated his family.
Speaking to EDP sister paper The Yarmouth Mercury in the weeks following his death, his father Ronnie, of Havelock Road, and sister Donna Podmore told how they were struggling to come to terms with his loss.
Donna joked: 'He could be cheeky, a little terror. He would wind us up because if you told him what to do, he would go and do the opposite, so we would tell him to do the opposite of what he should be doing.'
Mr Boulton said Shane, who had a child and a stepchild, would pack a picnic for his children and partner and take them to see him challenge his friends at motocross on his Yamaha 125 bike on a dirt track at the Gapton Hall industrial estate.
He added Shane's other passions in life were football and fishing and he was a keen fan of Manchester United, particularly his favourite players Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney, and he could be seen on many occasions playing football with friends at St Nicholas' Recreation Ground in Yarmouth.
Donna has set up a tribute page on the site Gonetoosoon.org and left a message which reads: 'Good night bruv u n mum look after 1 another now till we meet again as one day we will but until then u look afta mum now lad luv u both always n happy bday mum giver her a gud day lad xx'.
Trip to manslaughter scene
I visited Great Yarmouth's Stanley Terrace on a cold and miserable January day in an attempt to get an insight into the people behind the tragic events of that tragic evening in June last year when Shane Boulton lost his life.
On the night of June 19 2011 the street, near to the town's Marine Parade, would have been packed with people following a heated argument which led to the single, fatal stab wound to the chest of Mr Boulton.
But despite the extraordinary events on that midsummer's evening last year, which devastated at least two lives forever, the scene looked decidedly ordinary on this Monday morning.
Sleety rain and grey skies hovered above Stanley Terrace and the rest of the seaside town forcing all but the hardiest to stay indoors.
With the exception of a few young men, most wearing a type of hat or hood, and a dusting of older people going about their daily errands, barely a soul could be seen on the streets.
My quest for information about the two individuals at the centre of the fatal stabbing was met, largely, with a wall of silence.
Some people had only just moved to the area at the end of last year and so had no knowledge of the tragic events, but the overriding sense I was left with was of an unwillingness to betray allegiances - whether it be to Mr Boulton or Bown.
Unfortunately their silence cannot disguise the fact that these terrible events did happen and the consequences of which live on and will continue to live on for years to come.