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12 September 2014, 12:19 | Updated: 12 September 2014, 12:28
The family of a man murdered in Colchester nearly 16 years ago have urged the public to come forward with information, as a reward of up £2,000 has been offered to help trace a man suspected of the killing.
The independent charity Crimestoppers has put up the reward in connection with the murder of Grant Byrom, who was 30 when he was fatally stabbed in Forest Road on Boxing Day 1998.
This week, as Mr Byrom’s grandson Tyler celebrates his first birthday, the family described life without Grant and issued an emotional appeal for his killer to be brought to justice.
Acting Detective Chief Inspector Anne Cameron, who is leading the murder investigation, said: "Grant’s family were devastated by his death and each year there are constant reminders at family events he is missing from.
"He would have been so proud to become a grandfather and be at his grandson's first birthday party on September 12, but for nearly 16 years the family has had to grow up without him.
"They are determined to see justice done and have called on anyone with information to call Essex Police.”
Suzanne Martin, the mother of Grants children, said: ""We have always known him as Granny or Granski, and in memory of him, our two children, Dean and Tanya and their children Maisie and Tyler took on his surname of Byrom.
"I have a photograph on the fridge of Granny, and when Dean’s daughter Maisie, who is two-and-a-half sees this photo she knows it’s her granddad and that he is with the angels, and when Tanya’s son Tyler, is old enough to understand, we will make sure that he knows too. Tyler is going to have his first birthday without his granddad, that is going to be hard as well.
"When he was buried we wore matching necklaces, the pendant was a heart split into two, on mine was the word ‘Gran’ and on his the word ‘Sue’, they were done up at exactly the same time before Granny died so it felt as though there was a spiritual connection.
"Due to the circumstances of Granny’s murder I just didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to him, I think about him all the time and talk about him every day. It was his birthday last Saturday, he would have been 46 years old, and it really hit me this time, I was crying for most of the day. Some people are worried about mentioning his name to me, but I love talking about him and want to hear all the stories that they know. I know he is listening to them and he is watching over his family”.
Grant’s daughter, Tanya Moore-Byrom, said: "Every birthday, Christmas or any other special occasion I visit my dad’s grave, I take a can of beer with me and a cigarette, I put the cigarette on the grave and open the beer, I take a sip and pour the rest on the grave for my dad to enjoy. I know it sounds strange, but when I do this I feel close to him and it’s as though we are enjoying some time together, as we have missed out on these special moments.
"I, and other members of the family, visit my dad’s grave regularly, and for the past 16 years my Uncle Robert has been going there every couple of weeks and has been keeping it spotless, he cuts the grass and cleans the headstone, and my mum makes up pots of flowers”.
Detectives are continuing to search for Michael Donnelly (pictured) who is 67 and lived in Colchester but is believed to have left the UK after the murder of Mr Byrom.
A/DCI Cameron added: "Mr Donnelly is wanted in connection with the murder investigation but police have never been able to find him to talk to him about his version of events on that evening in 1998.
"We have made regular enquiries to trace Mr Donnelly but we are certain that he no longer lives in the UK.
"We also want to hear from anyone who has any information about Mr Donnelly’s whereabouts. I am also very keen to hear from anyone who may have further information about the murder of Mr Byrom.”
Anyone who can help should contact Essex Police on 101 or call Colchester Major Crime office on 01206 576845.
"If you would prefer to remain anonymous please contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or fill in the secure online form through the website at www.crimestoppers-uk.org”.
Only information given to Crimestoppers will be eligible for the reward and there are also specific conditions – it is available only if it leads to the arrest, return to the UK (if located outside UK) and charging of Donnelly in connection with the murder of Grant Byrom.