Stanley Metcalf's parents have spoken of their unimaginable heartache as the six-year-old's great-grandfather was jailed for three years for his manslaughter.
Holding a picture of football-loving Stanley close, both Jenny Dees and Andy Metcalf took to the witness stand at Sheffield Crown Court to tell of their heartache since losing their beautiful and funny little boy.
Here are their heartbreaking statements in full:
Stanley's mother - Jenny Dees
I am the mother of Stanley and Elsie Metcalf - two beautiful little twins age six. I don't know where to even begin. I never in my wildest dreams thought I would lose a child and then have to put into words the impact it has had on me. I have two older children Dan and Ellie who I love dearly. When me and Andy got together, we always talked about having a little boy called Stanley. Despite the emotional roller-coaster we went through to conceive, we finally did and along came Stanley with an extra special gift, his twin sister Elsie.
Like all parents, we were overwhelmed with love for them, Dan and Ellie loved them too. it was just before Christmas, they were born on 21st December and we were home for Christmas Eve. We were so proud, excited and incredibly happy. We had a complete family, nothing could come between us. it was what dreams were made of. The whole family were overjoyed.
'Stanley and Elsie loved each other massively and were inseparable'
Anyone who has children will know that overwhelming feeling of love. life with the twins was wonderful, double trouble, double teething, double nappies, double cloths, double the love and excitement. Everything was double. Right from the start, the twins had a special bond They shared a cot together, then a bedroom. We would often find them in the morning cuddled together. They played together, cried together, loved each other massively and were inseparable.
At first, Stanley appeared to be the shy one and would follow Elsie everywhere. He looked up to her and copied everything she did. Elsie loved Stanley being with her and was so very proud of him. it was hard when they were separated at school although it was for the best as it encouraged Stanley to become more confident and make separate friends to Elsie. However the bond between them never faded.
At home, they were still inseparable, playing in their shared bedroom or outside with their friends. Stanley soon became confident. he was just a lovely little boy with a wicked sense of humour which never failed to make us laugh. Elsie showed him how to do the floss dance, he used to do it at every opportunity and made us all laugh. He always seemed to be so happy and if you ever felt a bit down, Stan would come in the room and lift your spirits. He was so beautiful and lovely. You couldn't help but love him.
Andy was so proud of the twins, he had the most amazing bond with Stanley. They spent some 'boy time' together doing things together and going to their beloved Hull City football matches. Stanley loved football and was a brilliant little player. He loved scoring goals and would do the floss when he scored making everyone laugh. We were just a normal happy family until July 26, 2018 when Stanley was taken from us. How could we know that just an afternoon visit to my nana and granddad's house would change our whole life forever.
The event of that day constantly play out in my mind over and over. It is a living nightmare going over every single detail and questioning everything, unable to close my eyes for fear I might fall asleep and stop thinking about him for a second but then not being able to sleep when I close my eyes. I cannot describe the pain of living every day without Stanley. The disbelief that he is not with us anymore is unbearable. We struggle to live, talk, eat and even breathe. it is so very hard to understand that we are never going to see him again. Nothing will ever make this better and my heart is totally broken.
'After Stanley died I thought I would too'
In the days following Stanley's death I thought I would die too, the pain my heart was unbearable, so crushing in my chest it is hard to even breathe. That pain is always with me and will never fade. i cry and cry, sometimes I think i am never going to stop. in my darkest hours, I honestly believe the only reason I am still here is Elsie. I feel so incredibly guilty for having thoughts of leaving her but somehow I overcome that grief that threatens to burst my heart, and I stay.
Life is so hard to carry on, everything seems so pointless. I question myself over and over, how am I going to live without him? How am I going to get through never seeing my beautiful boy again? I will never see him grow up. Never see him reach teenage years, meet girls, bring them home. Never iron his shirts for him, or see him learn to drive, or see him start college or university. Never see him become a man, get married or have children of his own and meet our grandchildren.
All the hopes and dreams a young boy has in front of him when he is a carefree little child have all gone. The whole family feels the same, it has affected all of us and we cannot find a way of moving forward without Stanley. Myself and Andy are trying to manage the motion of life, but it is hard to keep going every day. i never want the nights to come where I lie awake in my bed with my thoughts racing between seeing Stanley's smiling happy face and then seeing him that day lying in agony, dying in my granddad's garden.
'Getting up and facing the day is the hardest'
But then, not wanting the morning to come either knowing it is a new day without Stanley not being there. Getting up is the hardest, facing the day, trying to be there for Elsie. Putting on a brave face when she is there, trying to be happy for her, not showing her how sad we are whilst trying not to let her see me cry. it's a constant struggle just to get through the day. The pain and anxiety is always there. Then reality dawns and Elsie has to go to school.
Before Stanley was taken from us, I would walk them both to school hand in hand, we often skipped whilst singing and when we got to school the twins was always happy and couldn't wait to go in. Now, I have a constant battle with Elsie who doesn't want to get up, washed or dressed. i can no longer walk to school as I can't bear one of my hands to be empty so I now drive the short car journey.
Elsie has suffered terribly, I can see her lovely little face is etched with sadness, and she has lost her brother, her constant shadow, her best friend. She finds it hard to leave me now, not wanting to go to school which she always loved, not wanting to leave my side for fear I will not return. it is heartbreaking and exhausting going through the same reassurances with her every single day, fighting the incredible urge to just pick her up and take her home, keep her safe, and never let her out of my sight. She thinks I will never return despite my reassurances.
'Elsie reminds me that I said her and Stanley would be together forever'
Elsie reminds me that I used to say to her that her and Stanley would never be without each other. I did say that. Elsie's once small world is now incredibly big and sad and is filled with fear and dread. The little care free girl has gone, she's quiet now, her life filled with adults talking to her, making sure she is alright, trying to make her understand, and then the rounds of counselling and constant worry.
No six-year-old should have any of that in their childhood years, they should be full of fun and have no cares or no worries, play with their toys and friends, not seeing their parents crying and always sad or upset. Me and Andy try to stay strong together for Elsie but it is so very hard.
In the mornings after the inner battle to be washed and dressed, we have to leave the house putting on a brave face, talking to people but not really hearing them, just waiting for the hours to pass when we can get back home, and all three of us are safe again. Until the next day when it begins all over again. The hurt in mine and Andy's hearts is indescribable. i don't know how I am ever going to get through this, it is so hard to live without Stanley in our life.
It has affected the whole family in different ways, they are all suffering greatly, physically and emotionally. We were always a family of six, now we are a family of five, sometimes staring aimlessly at other families with their sons playing, unaffected by our sadness. We recently took Elsie away on holiday. This was a massive decision and extremely difficult as it was our first holiday without Stanley. Although we thought we needed to get away, this proved to be extremely hard and emotional.
'I am angry with my granddad'
I am certain it will have affected my granddad who caused Stanley's death, however I know my granddad and I know what sort of man he is. My granddad has always been head of the family and is an intelligent man that I trusted. I was brought up to respect him, no one would ever challenge him. If granddad decided something then that was how it would be done, no questions asked.
I did once respect him. I am angry, really angry as now I know he will be thinking this was an accident and what is all the fuss about and why on earth has he been brought to court. He will be feeling unfairly treated. Our whole family which was once a close loving family has now been split and broken beyond repair, there seems to be 'sides' taken too.
Granddad surely has some inkling of some pain we are going through as he has lost a son himself but never once has he said sorry to us. In the days that followed Stanley's death, through our heart-wrenching grief, numbness and disbelief, I felt sorry for my granddad knowing he has to live with ending the life of a little innocent child, his great grandson, but I do not feel sorry for him now.
Sometime after Stanley's death I got a message from granddad, through a family member saying 'When Andy and Jenny are ready tell them I want to see them'. On hearing this I was absolutely blown away. How could he even expect me to go back to the place he shot Stanley and took his little life away when he had many opportunities to come and see me.
I do not think him saying sorry would have made any difference, when it was through his recklessness, stupidity and lack of forethought that caused Stanley to be taken away. But never to show any remorse or say sorry to us is quite unbelievable. Even a letter, a note, a word through a family member to me, anything at all, but it never came, never once did he say sorry and now if he did it would be meaningless and too little too late.
I hope he can live with himself and the pain he has caused us because living without Stanley and the massive hole it has left with all the unbearable pain, our life will never ever be the same again and has changed forever. There are no winners in all of this, but there are losers, and the biggest loser of all is my son, Stanley Andrew Metcalf.
Stanley's father - Andy Metcalf
On December 21 2011, the twins entered the world, one of which was Stanley our perfect little boy. As Stanley grew up I watched him become a confident little boy who filled our lives with love and laughter.
Stanley loved football and as soon as he could he would kick a ball around the garden. Football would become what we did, any chance we got we'd play or watch football.
Stanley attended some football classes and I loved watching him develop and at four he joined a football team. He was the youngest one there at the time and at times struggled, but he never gave in and just loved to be involved.
'I was so proud of Stanley, I cried watching him score a goal'
As time moved on and more boys Stanley's age joined, they formed his team. Their first tournament whilst for the team wasn't great, for Stanley it was. He scored all four of his team's goals. I can't tell you how proud I was of him, in fact I think I cried. We later learnt this is when Hull City started following Stanley's progress.
Stanley continued to develop and in the September of 2018 was due to start his first proper season. We'd bought him new football boots, a new tracksuit, all ready for the season. Both know sit in the wardrobe unworn.
His football became 'our time' together. We'd count down sleeps until his next training session or his next match. To the world Stanley played football, but to me that footballer was my world. If he wasn't playing we'd watch football. He'd sit next to me and ask who we wanted to win. half the time I didn't watch the game, I'd just watch him , thinking I'm so very lucky to have you.
Only the week before Stanley died he asked if he could come watch Hull City with me. Again this made me so happy because it's another thing we could do together.
Outside of football, Stanley would come to work with me on a Saturday morning, he had a pair of overalls just like the rest of us and with his toolbox we'd leave the house. Every Saturday morning he couldn't decide between a bacon sandwich or beans on toast.
'We had dreams for the future'
I was the happiest dad in the world. I had two beautiful children, a son who by now was my shadow and I was looking forward to the future. I had dreams and plans but more importantly I had a little boy who I loved and cherished and loved spending my life with. From 8am on a Saturday morning our weekend would be together doing what made us both happy.
I told Stanley every day I loved him and he was my best friend and without fail every single time he said exactly the same back to me. Even when he was playing out I'd hear him run past the house and if I was in the garden he'd shout over the fence 'I love you dad'. Even when he was asleep at night I'd give hum a kiss and tell him again, sometimes he'd reply but every time he'd nod his head.
On the 26th of July this little world came crashing down. Stanley, my son and best friend had his life taken away. I've wrote this statement multiple times and each time I don't think I explain enough how I feel about this and how sad I am. I now just accept there aren't the words to describe it.
I've spoken a lot about football because that is what we did. I now go into the garden and walk towards the goal, praying that when I get there and turn round my best friend is stood there, but he isn't. It's just an empty garden.
Wednesday was a training night, the night we'd counted down to and now instead of watching him have fun and feel that sense of pride and fulfilment at watching my best friend, I sit at home and think what could have been.
There's no countdown to matches on Sunday mornings anymore, in fact Sundays are spent trying to get enough enthusiasm just to get out of bed. The only thing I count own now are the days until I meet Stanley again. Each day is different - some bad, some even worse.
During the worst days I contemplate making the day we meet again come sooner. Had I not had Elsie I know that day would have come and you'd have had this day without me.
'I go to Stanley's room every night and kiss his pillow'
Every morning and every night I go into Stanley's room and still tell him 'You're my best friend and I love you'. There's no reply and kissing his pillow is not the same as kissing your son goodnight, believe me.
Days before Stanley died he was inquisitive about heaven. He would ask 'Is it your birthday every day in heaven?' and 'Can you play in the swimming pools every day in heaven?'. The thought he'd find the answer to this question before he kicked another football tears me apart.
As I've said, I now struggle with motivation, just getting through a day is my aim these days. I have no plan or no interest in tomorrow. Friends ring or text me, I don't answer or reply. Some days talking is too much effort.
I no longer go watch Hull City because I'm not going with Stanley and seeing other dads with their boys doing that brings me to tears. All my thoughts fill my head of 'Why Stanley?', 'Why didn't he check that gun?' and 'Why did he point it at Stanley?'.
Thoughts just go round and round, its unbearable. So I lay on my bed every Saturday afternoon with Stanley's ashes and listen to the commentary on the radio. People tell me constantly I need to seek help in the form of counselling. I disagree. I want to feel this pain, this anger and these emotions, because whilst it's still there, I know I'll never forget Stanley and I don't want to move on without my best friend, my shadow.
I seek answers from books on heaven and clairvoyants, just something to help me understand where Stanley is and he's OK. Of course, I know they can't give me the definitive answers but that doesn't stop me looking. Perhaps the only way to find out these answers is to go look myself and bring the countdown to an end.
'Why did you take my little boy away?'
The last question Stanley asked was 'Granddad, why did you shoot me?', so I'd like to ask the same 'Why did you take my little boy away?' I have been told I have the option to have my statement read out for me at court or I can read it out myslef.
At this time I would like to read it out myself. I want people to know what it is like living without Stanley in our lives, however I don't know if I will be strong enough on the day.