Doncaster mother's heartbreak after council tells her to clear away memorial flowers left at scene of son Lewis Williams' shooting
A mother whose son died in a suspected drive-by shooting says she is "heartbroken and devastated" after the council told her they would remove floral tributes left at the scene of his death.
Sandra Williams' son Lewis Williams, 20, was killed on January 11 in the incident at Wath Road in Mexborough.
But the grieving mother revealed her heartbreak after Doncaster Council informed her they would be removing the memorial wall of flowers and tributes left at the scene where Lewis died, without giving her a reason why.
"I was devastated," said Ms Williams, 58, of Swinton.
"I can't understand why. The pavement is really wide there so the memorial is not restricting anyone. Nobody is hanging around there intimidating anyone.
"We replace the flowers regularly and keep it really tidy.
"I would understand if people were leaving lit candles or glass which could be a danger, but they aren't.
"I come here all the time because it shows me how loved Lewis was. If the flowers weren't here, I think the only thing I would see would be my son lying there – this is where he took his last breath."
Ms Williams found out the council were wanting the memorial wall gone after they contacted her police family liaison officer, and says she has not had any direct contact from them.
Since then, a petition has been set up urging the council to let Lewis' family keep the memorial wall.
Steph Oldfield, a close family friend who was the second person at the scene when Lewis died set up the online petition and has also been contacting local councillors and Doncaster North MP Ed Miliband.
"When Lewis died in January, there was an overwhelming amount of flowers that wouldn't all fit on his grave so people left them at the scene where he died instead, and it's been regularly kept tidy since then," Ms Oldfield, 30, explained.
"We've spoken to the owners of the building the wall is outside and they have also said it's not bothering them.
"I'm heartbroken by it all – it's not hurting anyone."
Ms Oldfield added that Mexborough councillor Bev Chapman told her council officials said they had been in regular contact with Lewis' family over the wall, a fact disputed by Sandra Williams who said she had had "no direct contact at all" with them.
Doncaster Council’s Assistant Director of Communities, Debbie John-Lewis, said: “As a council we fully recognise the sensitivities in the community, following the tragic death of Lewis Williams in January this year. We also appreciate that members of the public, family and friends have been able to pay their respects and condolences at the scene of the incident on Wath Road in Mexborough by placing floral tributes at this location.
“The council has been holding discussions with the close family of Lewis Williams around the future of the temporary shrine, as we recognise that floral arrangements deteriorate over time.
“We have agreed with the family an appropriate date where the existing flower arrangements can be removed and we are in continued dialogue with them to facilitate a suitable family memorial, at a site which is linked to the life of Lewis in the local area.”
Two men aged 20 and two teenage boys aged 16 and 17 have been charged with murder over Lewis' death and are due to go on trial at Sheffield Crown Court on September 6.