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Olly Stephens: Teen remembered on second anniversary of death

BY: BBC

Family and friends of a 13-year-old who was murdered by two schoolboys have gathered on the second anniversary of his death.

Olly Stephens was ambushed and fatally stabbed on 3 January 2021 at Bugs Bottom field in Reading over a dispute on social media.

On Tuesday, his loved ones met at his memorial bench in the field.

His father Stuart Stephens said: "This year feels a lot harder, we just wanted to keep it close family and friends."

Last year, 300 people attended a memorial service for the teenager at St Barnabas Church in Evesham Road, Emmer Green, to mark the first anniversary.

Mr Stephens said the church service was "brilliant" but added: "We didn't want to impose on the church so [this year] we kept it for family and friends."

Two boys, both aged 14, were found guilty of murder in September 2021 following a trial at Reading Crown Court and a 14-year-old girl admitted manslaughter.
Mr Stephens has been campaigning for social media companies to be held responsible for harmful content shared on their platforms.

He has called for measures in the upcoming Online Safety Bill to make online companies responsible for removing "legal but harmful" content.

"The bill will enable legal accountability where there is none at the moment," he explained.

Mr Stephens said "the duty of care is out the window", adding that he believes social media companies "say the right things" but fail to act.

Speaking at Bugs Bottom on Tuesday, he told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: "We miss him, it goes without saying.

"The support we have had from the community has been amazing.

"It's sad we are here. The Online Safety Bill and campaigning is really where the fight comes from.

"Thank you to the community of Reading and Caversham, they have been outstanding really, I can't thank them enough."

The Online Safety Bill will be discussed next in Parliament on 16 January.

BBC