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‘I texted my son on the day of his funeral asking him to give me strength’: Parents of boy, 17, knifed to death at party reveal how they’ve been handed a ‘life sentence of grief’ as they try to make sense of his death


Each morning, Tara Cosser sends her son a text message saying she loves him with a couple of hearts.

But the messages will never be read. In July, 17-year-old Charlie was stabbed to death multiple times at an end-of-term party, just days before he was due to set off on his first ever ‘lads’ holiday.

Instead of watching their boy enjoy a fun-filled summer, the parents of the ‘gentle and thoughtful’ teenager have told MailOnline how their lives have been shattered. 

They are now enduring a ‘life sentence of grief’ as they struggle to come to terms with the senseless death of their son.

Such is the pain of Martin and Tara Cosser that they send a WhatsApp message each morning to their son Charlie’s phone.

Charlie Cosser was stabbed multiple times in July at a party in the grounds of a £1.5 million country mansion farmhouse in the village of Warnham

Charlie Cosser was stabbed multiple times in July at a party in the grounds of a £1.5 million country mansion farmhouse in the village of Warnham

Charlie's parents: 'We have been given a life sentence of grief, and if it wasn't for our two other children Adam and Eloise I am not sure that we could have gone on'

Charlie’s parents: ‘We have been given a life sentence of grief, and if it wasn’t for our two other children Adam and Eloise I am not sure that we could have gone on’

Martin and Tara Cosser, the parents of the 'gentle and thoughtful' teenager, have told how they have been given a 'life sentence of grief' as they struggle to come to terms with his death

Martin and Tara Cosser, the parents of the ‘gentle and thoughtful’ teenager, have told how they have been given a ‘life sentence of grief’ as they struggle to come to terms with his death

Such is the pain of Martin and Tara Cosser that they send a WhatsApp message each morning to their son Charlie’s phone.

‘I just send him a message saying I love him with a couple of hearts,’ said Tara.

‘It is just a simple message. Of course, nothing comes back. I just don’t want to be scrolling down on my phone to find his name.’

Martin added that he sends his son voice messages telling him how much he loves and misses him.

‘At his funeral I messaged him and asked him to give us strength, and he did. He helped us get through that day,’ he said.

Five months after Charlie was killed the couple still leave the bathroom light switched on – as they always did when their ‘gentle, thoughtful’ 17-year-old son came home from a night out with friends.

‘It is something we have decided to do, and I suppose shows how we are struggling with what has happened, said 48-year-old Martin.

‘That was our routine when he went out. We didn’t give him a key as we knew he would lose it.

‘This is our way of keeping the memories alive.

‘But our lives have been changed, it has destroyed us and will never be the same.

‘We have been given a life sentence of grief, and if it wasn’t for our two other children Adam and Eloise I am not sure that we could have gone on.

The Cosser family's comfortable life in the village of Milford, near Guildford in Surrey, was shattered around midnight on July 25th when two police officers knocked on the door

The Cosser family’s comfortable life in the village of Milford, near Guildford in Surrey, was shattered around midnight on July 25th when two police officers knocked on the door 

His father Martin (pictured) sends him voice messages and asked for 'strength' for the funeral

His father Martin (pictured) sends him voice messages and asked for ‘strength’ for the funeral

The talented footballer was critically injured and died three days later in hospital

The talented footballer was critically injured and died three days later in hospital

He was due to go on his first 'lads holiday' two days after the party to a Greek island

He was due to go on his first ‘lads holiday’ two days after the party to a Greek island

Charlie's parents say they are 'still in shock' at his death

Charlie’s parents say they are ‘still in shock’ at his death

More than 100 people had attended the event that the Cossers say was well organised with a DJ, security on duty and guests charged a fee for entry

More than 100 people had attended the event that the Cossers say was well organised with a DJ, security on duty and guests charged a fee for entry

Martin and his beloved son when he was a baby

Martin and his beloved son when he was a baby  

Charlie's father has a tattoo of his beloved son on his arm

Charlie’s father has a tattoo of his beloved son on his arm

‘We have been to darkest place you can ever imagine.’

‘We have experienced emotions didn’t know exist. Just total shock when it happened, and we still are still in shock.

Martin, a self-employed insurance broker, said since his son’s senseless and brutal death last July he has not been able to sleep properly and is often plagued by nightmares.

‘I hardly sleep these days, but quite often I will go and lie on Charlie’s bed and that helps relax me a bit.

‘We have had the darkest and most horrible moments that I hope no father of mother should have to experience. Now as a family our mantra is one step at a time.’

The Cosser family’s comfortable life in the village of Milford, near Guildford in Surrey, was shattered around midnight on July 25th when two police officers knocked on the door.

Their son – a talented footballer who was part of the junior academy at Premier League club Brentford when he was eight years old – had gone out to a party held in the grounds of a £1.5m farmhouse in Warnham, West Sussex.

Tara, 47, said he was invited as a ‘friend of a friend’ and did not know the triplets who had organised the event.

She said he was due to go on his first ‘lads holiday’ two days after the party to the Greek party island of Zante.

‘His bag was packed and his Euros were still on the table,’ said Tara.

‘One of the reasons he went to the party that night was to catch up with an old friend who he would not be seeing for a while.’

More than 100 people had attended the event that the Cossers say was well organised with a DJ, security on duty and guests charged a fee for entry.

A 17-year-old boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has pleaded not guilty to Charlie’s murder and will go on trial next May.

The hours after the police called at their home in Surrey’s stockbroker belt in is seared into the memory of the couple.

Recalling every parent’s nightmare seeing police at their door late at night, Martin said: ‘The police asked me my name and then said ‘your son has been stabbed and he is critical You need to come with us.’

After being stabbed multiple times Charlie, who had dreams of working as a groundsman at his favourite football team Chelsea, went into cardiac arrest in the back of an ambulance.

He was taken to the Royal Sussex Hospital in Brighton where doctors battled to save his life.

‘The consultant took us into a room and told us there is a significant chance your son will not survive the surgery,’ said Martin.

Martin hopes to visit school in the Home Counties and schools near their home to educate youngsters about the perils of carrying a knife

Martin hopes to visit school in the Home Counties and schools near their home to educate youngsters about the perils of carrying a knife

Martin Cosser pictured with Charlie when he was just a few years old

Martin Cosser pictured with Charlie when he was just a few years old

The couple were allowed to see their son after surgery where he was on a life support system

The couple were allowed to see their son after surgery where he was on a life support system

‘I cannot really put into words what that does to you.’

The couple were allowed to see their son after surgery where he was hooked up to a life support system.

‘There were tubes and wires everywhere. I cannot really describe what that was like, seeing my little boy lying there.

‘He lost every milligram of blood in his body and had to have transfusions. Our little boy just lying there and covered in wires. It was horrendous.’

The couple did not leave their son’s bedside for 48 hours but after he suffered irreversible brain damage they took the decision to switch off the life support system.

As he said goodbye to his youngest son for a final heart wrenching time Martin whispered to him a promise that he would devote all his time preventing knife crime and stopping any other parent experiencing what they were going through.

That has resulted in a new charity being set up called ‘Charlie’s Promise’.

The charity will be up and running in the new year but in the meantime they have set up a Just Giving Page to kick start fundraising. More than £6,000 has been raised with one organisation donating £5,000.

‘I made a promise to Charlie that I would do my best to stop any other parent having to suffer what we have gone through, said Martin.

‘Having the charity also means that we can keep Charlie’s name alive. If what we do can prevent a single death, then we will have succeeded.

‘I want to be able to go into schools and talk to people about knife crime and talk about Charlie. I could talk about my son all day and want people to know about him, what he was like and what why he was so loved by so many people. Over 700 people came to his funeral and the support from his friends has helped keep us going.

Martin hopes to visit school in the Home Counties and schools near their home to educate youngsters about the perils of carrying a knife.

He said: ‘So many people were shocked that this could happen to a family like ours. It is not as if we live in an inner city, but a quiet sleep Surrey village.

‘This sort of thing shouldn’t happen outside a big city, but there is more and more knife crime.

‘I had an email where a parent said a nine-year-old at their daughter’s school in Haslemere had been found with knife. It is happening all over, and we want to do our part to try and prevent anyone else dying.

‘What makes Charlie’s Promise so unique that there is nothing like this around here.’

Tara added: ‘If it can happen to Charlie it can happen to anyone.

Donations can be made here.



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