Published: 14:11, 12 January 2018
The devastated mother of a young Romanian man brutally beaten to death in an unprovoked attack says the loss of her only son has ripped her apart.
Marinella Gafita released the heartbreaking statement detailing the harrowing impact of 21-year-old Razvan Sirbu's death on her family, as three men were convicted of killing him.
Charlie White and Alex Macdonald, both 19, and 20-year-old Jimmy White bludgeoned the keen sportsman and animal-lover to death in the Loose Valley Conservation Area in Tovil in May.
The court heard Mr Sirbu had been sleeping rough across a verge in a residential part in the area since April 24 this year. He is believed to have previously lived in the Gravesend area.
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White and Macdonald, who were found guilty of murder, and Buckley, who was deemed unfit to plead but found to have committed the act, will be sentenced on Tuesday.
In a victim impact statement read to Maidstone Crown Court today, Ms Gafita spoke of the breathtaking shock of being told her son was dead, leaving her feeling "torn and shredded inside".
Ms Gafita, who listened in court with the help of an interpreter during the trial, said: “Razvan was my only child. I raised him since birth and he was only 21 years old when his life was taken.
“His grandmother, auntie, uncle and extended family miss him dearly, as do I. I remember Razvan as a child being energetic and timid, though he became more daring as he got older and approached adulthood. He loved his sports and animals very much.
Video: Razvan Sirbu's mum talks of tragedy of her son's death
“Razvan came to the UK from Romania in October 2016 in the hope he would succeed in finding a job and to build a better future for himself. He wanted to open his own business one day. He wanted to create and produce T-shirt prints.
“We thought it would be a new beginning for him, full of hope. However, it has proved to be the end of my beloved son. Razvan was the apple of my eye and I would have freely given my life for him.
“May 7 2017 will remain the day my life completely changed, the day I completely lost confidence and trust in humanity - the infamous day my son was killed.
“How can I describe the moment in which you find out that your only child, who is part of you, has been found dead - beaten to death at a time I knew he had his whole future ahead of him.
“In the first few moments after I was informed of his death the shock was so great that it took my breath away. I was totally frozen initially and then I went into denial mode ‘it’s impossible’, and I held onto the hope that it was not my son, that it was mistaken identity and just that they had mistook him for someone who looked similar.
“I spent days after fluctuating between reality and a dream-like state, saying to myself: 'Am I really here? Maybe this is a nightmare from which I hope to wake up soon'. I have nightmares and dream all of what happened is not true.
“The reality hit me the moment I saw Razvan lying still and cold on the table of the morgue. Though he was still, I felt he looked peaceful, and I remember thinking he was smiling at me.
“In the following weeks and months I have spent much of my time continually crying to the point of exhaustion.
"The death of my child broke my heart and this loss will remain a deep integral part of me. Razvan was more precious to me than anything in this world, and he will remain part of me" - Marinella Gafita, Razvan Sirbu's mother
“I have been looking at photographs and videos of Razvan and remembering beautiful precious moments we shared, while knowing my son is no more.
“He was unjustifiably taken from me, which is worsened by the manner in which he died, leaving me feeling angry and helpless with an ever present feeling that those guilty of this horrendous crime must be found and held accountable.
“Razvan’s death has transformed my world into a no man’s land, a place marked with shock and lost trust. I feel torn and shredded inside, living in a place where there is no life.
“We do not expect our children to die before us. It is not the natural course of life and shouldn’t happen in this way. The death of one’s child before them is inconceivable for a parent and to me seems like it defies the law of life.
“I am haunted by the questions in my mind both day and night. How did this happen? Why did this happen? Did Razvan suffer a lot? And very importantly, will I ever see him again?
“Psychologically speaking, I was and still am crushed to the ground. I feel destroyed. I will always reflect on what happened with a lot of pain - that just because some criminally minded people doing what they did, I will not get to see my son as an adult.
“There are weeks when I have not had the strength to work. I could not get out of bed. I have been grateful for some financial support during this ordeal to help towards Razvan’s funeral. Friends and family have helped with my keep."
Ms Gafita also issued an appeal to parents to keep a close eye on their children.
She said: "I have lost so much trust. I feel I need to warn parents with teenage children to stay vigilant and be more aware of their children’s circle of friends and be alert to those who could influence them in a negative way, or to lure them into dangerous traps.
“The death of my child broke my heart and this loss will remain a deep integral part of me. Razvan was more precious to me than anything in this world, and he will remain part of me.”
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