KILLING: 'Life without Ross is hard. It never goes away'

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A YEAR ago today Ross Parker was still alive - at 17-years-old his future was filled with hope and ambition.

A YEAR ago today Ross Parker was still alive - at 17-years-old his future was filled with hope and ambition. A YEAR ago today Ross Parker was still alive - at 17-years-old his future was filled with hope and ambition.

By the next day, all the dreams were over. Ross was dead, and a living nightmare for his family began.

Ross had gone off happily, as always, to the part-time job he loved at a city pub. His schooldays were over and he was deciding what to do with his life.

He never came home that night. He died from stab wounds on a city centre cyclepath when disaster struck as he walked home.

The tragedy touched the whole city.

People who had never met Ross laid flowers at the spot where he died. The hearts of everyone went out to his family in their grief.

Tomorrow, his parents Tony (50) and Davina (44), and Ross's sister Leanne (22), will return to the scene of his death, weighed down by memories and loss, but compelled to confront their distress on the anniversary of his death.

It will be painful as they retrace his last steps along Bourges Boulevard. They want to do it, even though they know it will invoke emotions that are still all too raw and evident 12 months on.

But they won't be completely alone.

Close family and friends will join them to lay flowers at the spot where Ross was last seen alive on that fateful night of September 21, 2001.

Later they will visit the crematorium to pay their respects to their son and read again the plaque that marks the loss of his life.

When Ross died, the happiness at their home in Bozeat Way, Westwood, Peterborough, went with him.

It has not been easy for anyone in the Parker family. They often cry together in a house where it seems as if everyone is just waiting for him to walk through the door again.

There is a still a disbelief that this fit young sportsman can be gone.

A rose bush blooms brightly in the back garden. It was planted in remembrance.

Tears glint in his father's eye as he says: "Life without Ross has been hard. We are still struggling to come to terms with what happened It never goes away.

"I don't like going to the spot where he died. I try to avoid it as much as possible, but it's something we felt we had to do tomorrow.

"Every day is still a struggle for us and, with the court case just around the corner, it can only get harder.''

Taking that walk is one thing. Changing Ross's bedroom is another. It is something his parents can't yet face.

The room remains exactly the same as Ross left it when he left for work at the Solstice pub, in Northminister, that night.

In a voice that kept breaking, his heartbreak too hard to hide, Tony said: "We often go into Ross's room and just sit. It's a place where we all feel close to Ross. But in our hearts, we know he'll never be coming home."

Four men await trial

FOUR men are awaiting trial charged with the murder of Ross Parker.

Sarfraz Ali (24), of Harris Street, Ahmed Ali Awan (21), of Gladstone Street, Shaied Nazir (20), of Cromwell Road, and Ziaraff Mahrad (20), also of Cromwell Road, are all due to appear at Northampton Crown Court in November.

They have all pleaded not guilty.

The Parker family plans to be in court to hear the case.