Sunderland mum hopes the impact of her son’s brutal murder will change lives

Last picture of Brent Martin (23) who was murdered in Sunderland.
Last picture of Brent Martin (23) who was murdered in Sunderland.
Have your say

THE heartbroken mum of Brent Martin hopes a book exploring hate crime against people with disabilities will help change society.

Scapegoat, by Katharine Quarmby, looks at a number of cases of neglect and brutality towards disabled people.

As part of the campaigning journalist’s research for the book, she interviewed Brenda Martin, whose son Brent, 23, was killed in August 2007.

Brent, who had learning difficulties, was brutally beaten in Town End Farm by a gang of people he thought were his friends.He died three days later.

His attackers, William Hughes, 25, Marcus Miller, 20, and Stephen Bonallie, 21, all received life sentences at Newcastle Crown Court in February 2009.

Hughes and Miller pleaded guilty to murder. Bonallie denied the charge but was found guilty.

Brent’s family were devastated when all three had their sentence tariffs cut at the Court of Appeal.

Now Brent’s story has appeared in the hard-hitting book, which aims to change the way society views people with learning disabilities.

Brenda, 67, of Witherwack, said: “The book looks at people from different walks of life and is very interesting to read.

“I think it can only be a good thing and can’t help but make people who read it think about questions raised in the book.”

“She has done a wonderful job,” Brenda said. “I just hope it achieves what it sets out to do.”

Brenda said she still struggles daily with the loss of her son but the birth of her two-year-old grandson, who was named Brent after his uncle, brings her some comfort.

Scapegoat is available to buy for £15.99.

Katherine Quarmby has spent years campaigning for change.

 She was particularly touched by Brent’s story.

 She said: “Brent was on the cusp of a new, independent life. He had a flat of his own, a job and a girlfriend.

 “Instead of being able to enjoy life to the full, he was killed for a bet.

 “A number of disabled people’s organisations and disability charities are now working together informally on disability hate crime, sharing information and discussing how best to move forward in influencing government, police and prosecutors to take disability hate crime more seriously.”

 Northumbria and Durham police have both signed up to a 10-point pledge to help stamp out hate crime against people with disabilities.