Barbara's story

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This work examines the experiences of a mother from South Shields who tragically lost her son in a racist murder in 2006. It is based on a detailed process of research conducted over four months. It uses photographs; video and audio recordings of the mothers’ voice to examine the family’s experiences, and attempts to explain her experiences before and after the murder, and some of the lasting legacies of this experience. Through the photofilm we get insights into the specific social, political and historical context for her experiences, and begin to understand the fragile and shifting relationship between ones identity, ideas around belonging and nationalism, and the process of victimisation. 

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n the film, Barbara Yusef Porter, recounts the events which led to her son’s murder in 2006. Her son, Lee Phipps made numerous reports to the police over a protracted period of time. The general nature of the complaints was that people in the their community were subjecting them to racist threats and actions. It is clear that before his death, Lee had a genuine sense that he had been let down by the police response to those complaints. He died on the 2nd March 2006.

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The following statement was read at the trial for Scott Trevor Nicholls, the man found guilty of his murder. 

Lee Phipps left his home on the afternoon of the 2nd March 2006 intending to visit a local beauty spot at Cleadon Hills, to take photographs with his new camera. He was stabbed to death in broad daylight near a quiet residential estate. Lee had for several years been a victim of racial abuse, having problems with neighbours. Because of this the family installed CCTV cameras and microphones in the garden of their home, which they used to collect evidence of these incidents. The problems allegedly involved the occupants from several nearby houses, and a relative of the accused Scott Nichols. The addresses were frequented by Nicholas and his associates on a regular basis. The accused, Scott Nichols, was released from HMYOI on the 9th December 2005, having served a sentence of 19 months imprisonment for public order and breach of ASBO offences. Later in December 2005 Scott Nichols is accused of racial abuse. 

At 4.03pm on Thursday 2nd March 2006 Scott Nichols is captured on CCTV riding past Barclays Bank in the area of the Nook, South Shields on a green mountain bike. A few minutes later he is captured on CCTV passing the home of the victim Lee Phipps, heading in the direction of the Ash Path and Cleadon Hills. At 4.16pm that same day Lee Phipps left his home address carrying his new digital camera intending to walk to Cleadon Hills and photograph the landscape that was covered with a recent fall of snow. At 4.19pm Nicols is seen to enter the Ash Path in the direction of Cleadon Hills, captured again on CCTV this time at a Texaco petrol filing station, situated at the bottom of the Ash Path. At 4.29pm the same day his mother rang Lee in order to have him buy a newspaper on his return home. He told her that he was ‘on the ash path’. This was the last time his mother spoke with Lee. At 4.33pm the accused is captured on CCTV riding past the Texaco filing station coming from the direction of the Ash Path. At 4.34pm the accused Nichols is captured on CCTV riding past Lee’s Phipp’s home address. About 5pm the same day a man walking his dog found Lee’s body outside the front door of a home on Cleadon Hill Road. It appeared Lee had tried to make his way to get help after suffering fatal injuries. It was later established that Lee has suffered 4 stab wounds to his neck, chest, elbow and thigh and he had cuts on his hands consistent with efforts to defend himself. 

Forensic evidence links Scott Nicols to the murder of Lee Phipps. He declined to answer any questions put to him by the investigating officers.”

Scott Trevor Nicholls pleaded guilty to the murder of Lee Phipps at the trial on 30th October 2006.