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Sidcup family torn apart by one punch killing

PUBLISHED: 10:27 25 April 2013 | UPDATED: 10:27 25 April 2013

Robert's family l-r: Therese Holland, Alfie Southcott, Karen Holland and Megan Southcott

Robert's family l-r: Therese Holland, Alfie Southcott, Karen Holland and Megan Southcott

Archant

One punch. That's all it took to tear apart one Sidcup family.

Robert Holland was a much-loved son, brother, husband and uncle when his life was needlessly cut short on October 28, 2011, when he was hit by nightclub bouncer Liam Rockley, whom he had never met before, in Nottingham.

Rockley interfered in what he mistakenly thought was a fight among Robert’s friends, delivering a single blow to the head which proved deadly.

As Robert’s family, including mum Therese and sister Karen, try to rebuild their lives, they are also seeking to raise awareness while fundraising for the charity which helped them through some of the hardest times, Support After Murder and Manslaughter (Samm).

“We came across Samm by chance last March and within 10 minutes of contacting them, there was a volunteer on the phone,” says Therese, 63, who lives in Chester Road.

“It’s like a small community which I didn’t know existed and we’ve all been through the same thing. The organisation needs around £4,000 a year to keep running, so we do everything we can to help.”

Karen, 41, who lives in Welling, is taking part in a charity bike ride with Kathy Barber, whose son Danny was also killed by one punch. The two women met through Samm.

From May 28 to June 1 they will cycle from Sidcup to Nottingham and the place where Robert died.

They are also holding a charity lunch on July 20, as they did last year. They are hoping to raise £2,000 in total.

Karen says she has never taken on a challenge like this before but is determined to get to the finish line in Robert’s memory even if she has to “walk the last 10 miles”.

“Robert and myself have always been very close and preparing for this has taken my mind off thinking about him not being here. Plus Samm is a great cause but not many people know about them, so if we raise awareness, that will be brilliant.

“I’d consider doing the London Marathon next year if Samm can get me a place for them.”

Rockley was sentenced last February to just three years in jail for manslaughter and is due to be freed this summer.

Therese believes his sentence was far too lenient. “Rockley will walk free this summer but nothing will bring Robert back,” she said. “We want to raise awareness that one punch can, and does, kill.

“If we can prevent one family going through what we’ve been through then it will have been worthwhile.”

Despite all their fundraising and campaigning, Therese says the whole family is still struggling to come to terms with Robert’s death.

She said: “When they were growing up it was just myself, Robert and Karen. We were a very close family and shared everything. Robert was a loving and brilliant son, a huge part of my life.

“It’s a struggle every day. Sometimes I don’t want to get out of bed but I have to for the rest of the family.

“His nephew Alfie talks less to us about him because he’s worried about upsetting us and his niece Megan was very angry about him being taken away. That’s the hardest part to deal with – knowing he won’t be walking through the door again.”

n To sponsor Karen’s bike ride see mycharitypage.com/BikeRideSidcupTo Nottingham.

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