Murdered Mark was ‘no bully’ says victim’s mother

Murdered John-Mark Duffy, of Bedford.

Murdered John-Mark Duffy, of Bedford.

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John-Mark Duffy was an intelligent boy, good at maths and science, so much so, he won a scholarship to a boarding school in Dorset.

His mother said he excelled academically, and at the weekends looked forward to playing rugby, cricket and hockey.

As she goes through the photos and articles about him in the school magazine, Kathleen Duffy says he had a bright future ahead of him.

So how did he come to be murdered in a Bedford flat, living a life blighted by drink and drugs, and labelled a bully?

Since Ian Brunner, 47, was sentenced last month to 12-and-a-half years for murdering John-Mark in January, Mrs Duffy has hoped to honour the memory of her son with a different account of the final hours of his life.

The court heard Brunner had armed himself because John-Mark was a bully, but Mrs Duffy said nothing could be further from the truth. To her, John-Mark was a loyal son, friend, brother and uncle.

John-Mark shared the Byron Crescent flat with Steven Matthews, sleeping on the sofa.

They knew Ian and let him stay. After a few weeks it became clear Ian and John-Mark did not get on.

The court heard the day of the fatal stabbing, John-Mark and Ian began “grappling” with each other, and he was stabbed twice in the heart.

But Mrs Duffy does not believe there was a struggle, maintaining her son was sitting on the sofa when he was attacked.

“Had they been tussling,” she said, “he would have seen the knife and had it off of him.”

While it might be easy to think mother’s love is clouding Mrs Duffy’s judgement, she said: “I am under no illusion as to the life-style my son led, but sometimes good people make bad choices.

“At school, when he was about 13, he had been suspended for being present when some older boys were caught with cannabis.

“They were expelled, but he never got over being punished for something he was not involved in.

“When he was 18, he spent a weekend in Liverpool with friends. He was introduced to heroin and came back an addict.”

“But despite his addiction, John-Mark was still a loyal friend, who always looked out for others and did all he could to help his family and friends.

“John-Mark was strong, protective and could be very charming.”

His death has left his family devastated. “He was best man to his younger brother, Anthony, who has not got over his passing,” said Mrs Duffy. “And he leaves three nieces and two nephews, who he adored.”

“I can’t lay my boy to rest until what really happened is out there.”