Hogmanay 2017. Shaun was out celebrating with his friends and enjoying his night.
The picture above was taken by one of his friends - it is the last picture we have of our son alive.
Throughout the past two years we have mourned the loss of our son and the pain of losing him never goes away. We will never be able to celebrate another birthday, Christmas or New Year but to be honest every day is difficult. People say it gets easier with time, I haven't reached the point where I can agree with that sentiment and I really don't know if I want to get there because if I don't feel this pain every day does that mean I have forgotten my son? It sounds strange but it's as if the pain justifies the memory of Shaun and I never want to forget him.
Shaun went out that night with his two closest friends, Stephen and Danny. They went to Gladstones in Edinburgh owned by Danny's father and uncle. They knew everyone there that night, friends just having a good time celebrating the New Year, just like millions of us across the globe, but this night turned out to be the worst of all of our lives.
It came to closing time at 2am, everyone had enjoyed their night and where making plans to go home or on to another party.
At that time a group of individuals had made their way to the Leith area having caused carnage and mayhem since around 10pm that night. They had committed random acts of violence from the Bruntsfield area to Leith and had assaulted various innocent bystanders out partying. What happened at Gladstones that night was not an isolated incident, once the main culprits had been arrested and taken to court the indictment at the trial showed a total of 17 charges for those in the group against 18 different victims, from verbal abuse, breach of the peace, assault, serious assault, serious assault to the endangerment of life and finally to the murder charge for killing our son.
There are different accounts about how this incident started at Gladstones, there was an accusation of a racial slur being used but that was not substantiated at court.
What I do know is that a fight broke out in the street between this group and customers coming out of Gladstones. Shaun took no part in any of the fighting outside, Shaun was still inside with friends and was oblivious to the situation outside, however, after 2 or 3 minutes of fighting and various injuries and assaults, one of Shaun's friends came back into the pub and those inside came out, including Shaun.
The CCTV footage played in court showed that Shaun played no part in any of the fighting, in fact he stood with his arms folded and watched the proceedings in front of him. Our son was not a fighter, he hated confrontation and would not want to get involved.
What happened next will haunt our family till the day we die.
Shaun, we think, saw one of his friends being attacked and although it was not in his nature to get involved, he obviously decided to try to help. He ran the 10-15 metres to where this was taking place and tried to help his friend, we will never know exactly what happened next as the CCTV did not cover the area concerned. But based on the evidence at court Shaun was punched at least once to the side of the head and fell to the ground.
He was, doctors told us, unconcious at the time, and struck the pavement with such a force that the sound can be heard on the footage recorded. According to witnesses, but unproven at the trial, he was kicked twice to the head whilst lying there. Although there was evidence of this, it was not proven in court, however the witnesses have maintained their testimony to this.
In the space of about 20 seconds our sons life was over.
Shaun was described by all that knew him as a gentle, caring soul, who did not have a bad bone in his body, he did not like attention and was quite a quiet shy guy at heart, never one for being the centre of attention, he kept himself to himself. The many newspaper articles that followed described Shaun as a true gentleman. He died for no good reason other than that a group of people wanted to cause mayhem across Edinburgh that night and they ended up taking our son's life.
Shaun's life revolved around his daughter, who at the time was 3 years old, he adored her, and had even given up his passion for playing football in order that he could spend more time with Riley. She really was his everything and these thugs, destroyed not only Shaun's life, but Riley's and all of the family and friends that Shaun had. None of our lives will ever be the same again.
Parents, grandparents, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins and all of his close group of friends, all destroyed for a needless situation that should never have happened.
We spent 3 days in hospital with Shaun, unfortunately he was declared clinically 'brain dead' but, as per Shaun's wishes, we had organised organ donation which at that time of year took a bit longer than normal.
Shaun was kept breathing in order to keep his organs functioning. There were tubes everywhere, the bandage on his head hiding his fatal wounds and he lay there with his chest going up and down, looking just like he was asleep. But he wasn't asleep - he was already gone. Taken from us forever.
We are very proud Shaun's organs went on to save the lives of three other people, including a baby. Shaun was honoured for this at a ceremony in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh on behalf of Organ Donation Scotland.
A true gentleman even after death.