Published: 06:00, 01 September 2021
| Updated: 15:37, 01 September 2021
A grieving father has described the “hellish” two years his family have endured since his beloved son died from stab wounds following a night out.
Dennis Jones, 37, was cleared last month of murdering Luke Sullivan, a former paratrooper who grew up on Sheppey, at his Rochester High Street flat in November 2019.
But since the IT consultant was acquitted, Mr Sullivan’s father, Wayne Sullivan, has hit out at police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
He said: “We were shocked when we heard the not guilty verdict, but think it was a massive failing from the police and CPS not to attach a manslaughter charge.
“At least it would’ve been something.”
Mr Sullivan explained he plans to sue Kent Police and the CPS for malpractice.
Wayne Sullivan said not having the closure a conviction would have brought was a “hellish” experience.
He said: “It’s affected this family existentially.”
Luke, a dad himself, was born on the Island and went to Minster College.
He was described as an “absolute diamond” by parents Wayne and Tania, who have vowed not to stop the fight for answers over their son’s death.
Mr Sullivan also criticised the trial for being so complex, and felt the case was not presented in a clear manner for the jury.
Mr Jones had told the court how, after a jovial night out drinking, Luke suddenly appeared in his bedroom brandishing a knife - and the two began to wrestle over the weapon.
Luke, 31, was stabbed three times during the altercation, once fatally, and died from his injuries.
It took a jury at Maidstone Crown Court just hours to return a not guilty verdict.
Mr Jones told the court he did not know he had stabbed Luke when he was interviewed by police, and that Luke had done it to himself.
He later stated he believed he was going to die during the fight.
Speaking about the impact the death and trial has had on his family, Wayne Sullivan said: “The impact has been extraordinary, it’s indescribable. It goes far beyond that.
“It’s affected us massively.”
The grief-stricken father previously explained: “When one of your children dies, the pain never goes away. It stays there and you just have to learn to deal with it.
“Not only was he my best friend and my wife’s best friend, he was such a sociable person and he was devoted to his family.
“When my wife had a massive stroke in 2009, she was in hospital for seven months and had a brain operation, which left her very disabled and bed-bound for three years.
“Luke was brilliant in supporting us both. He wasn’t just my eldest son, he was an absolute diamond.
“He was a real soldier, he always respected people and he was full of life.”
'We have written to Mr Sullivan to offer him a meeting to discuss the case and his concerns...'
Luke also leaves behind two brothers Kye and Cameron, and step-sisters Sheree and Nadia.
A CPS spokesman said: “This case was carefully considered by both the police and the CPS before the murder charge was brought. The charge was kept under continuous review during the lifetime of the case, including throughout the trial.
“Whilst it was a complicated case factually and legally, juries often have to consider complex evidential matters and we gave considerable thought to how to present the case at trial.
“Given the facts in this case, it was not appropriate for there to be an alternative charge of manslaughter. It was also decided in court that the jury could not be given the option to acquit the defendant of murder, but convict him of manslaughter.
“We have written to Mr Sullivan to offer him a meeting to discuss the case and his concerns.”
Detective chief superintendent Adam Ball, Kent Police’s head of victim justice, said: "Kent Police consults the Crown Prosecution Service and seeks its authorisation for appropriate charges in all criminal cases. This is reflective of the relationship of the police role in an investigation - to gather all available evidence - and the CPS' role - to assess the evidence, authorise charge and lead the prosecution.
When a court case ends with an acquittal, police and the CPS follow national guidelines to support those affected and a senior investigating officer from Kent Police has spoken with the family of Luke Sullivan, who died in Rochester in November 2019, to listen to any concerns they may have.
"Given there has been an indication to bring legal proceedings regarding the prosecution, it would be inappropriate for Kent Police to comment on the case, court hearing or outcome until further details are confirmed."