TRAGICALLY, a man was just days away from an emotional reunion with his estranged children when he was brutally murdered, his ex-partner has revealed.

James Attfield, 33, was stabbed to death by 15-year-old killer James Fairweather near Lower Castle Park, Colchester. He was a dad to four young children, three boys and a girl, whom he had with his former partner, Cheryl Down.

Four years after the couple split, in 2010, Mr Attfield, a dad-of-five in total, suffered life-changing head injuries when he was struck by a car, leaving him with no memories of his children.

Miss Down took the heartbreaking decision to stop her children having contact with Mr Attfield, fearing the impact it would have on them if he was to tell them he did not know who they were.

But as his memory started to return, the relieved mum began making plans for her children to be reunited with their dad after a five-year gap.

However, just three days later, police called at her home in Purfleet to tell her the devastating news of Mr Attfield’s death.

Cheryl, 32, said: “Jim was going to be back in the children’s lives again and then it was snatched away from them.

“It was like they had lost him twice, once from his brain injury and then the second time which will be forever.

“That ‘child’ [James Fairweather] has snatched my children’s dad away from them and they’ll never have him back and that’s unforgivable.”

She said it was a very difficult decision to take the children out of Mr Attfield’s life but his memory was badly affected by the crash.

She said: “After his accident he had been looking at pictures of my eldest son and he got confused, thinking it was his own brother.

“He lost six years of his memories in the accident.

“It was the hardest decision I ever had to make and I think it had a big impact on the children as they were young.

“Having to tell a three-year-old that he can’t see his dad? It’s unbearable.”

Fairweather was convicted of murdering Mr Attfield and Nahid Almanea, in 2014, at Guildford Crown Court last Friday, and will be sentenced at the Old Bailey on Friday.

Miss Down attended Fairweather’s trial and was struck by the baby-faced killer, saying: “My oldest lad is 13 – so is just a couple of years away from the age of this boy when he committed those murders.

“That’s just so hard to comprehend, that someone so young could be capable of this.”

On the teenage killer’s punishment, she said: “I want him behind bars for the rest of his life – 100 per cent.

“If he can kill two innocent people, what else could he do?”

The mum also laid some of the blame at Fairweather’s parents’ door, adding: “If my son was in his room talking to thin air, I’d be worried and I would take action on it to try to help him.

“They knew that the dad had suffered from voices in his head as a teenager, so why did they not act sooner?

“Jim was a good, kind person and deserved better than this.”

Miss Down first met Jim when she began working in the kitchens of a pub in South Ockendon, when she was just 18.

The pair then fell in love and were together for five years from October 2001 but did not marry.

The couple had four children in four years but split up, deciding it was 'not working anymore' but Jim would see his four children each Saturday and the pair remained on good terms.

  •  A MOTHER whose own son was murdered has set up a fundraising page for James Attfield's mum.

Caroline Shearer, via her weapons awareness charity Only Cowards Carry, has set up a crowdfunding page via Just Giving to raise £2,000 for Julie Finch and her family.

It states: “It would be wonderful to be able to raise funds for the family so they can all go away together to reflect and try to get over the shock.”

Mrs Shearer’s son, Jay Whiston, was stabbed to death in September 2012 by Edward Redman.