The father of a teenage boy who was stabbed to death at a party said his family are "mentally scarred for the rest of our lives".

Charlie Cosser died in July at a house party in the village of Warnham, near Horsham.

His father Martin has spoken to The Argus about Charlie’s death and the “snowball effect” of his loss as part of our campaign to stop knife crime.

Martin described the 17-year-old as an “incredible son” and a “beautiful soul who was funny and exceptionally loyal”.

He said that his friends were “massively important to him” and spoke of his love of rap music and expensive clothes.

The Argus: Charlie CosserCharlie Cosser (Image: Martin Cosser)

Charlie attended a party as a friend of a friend on July 22, just days before he was due to go on holiday with friends to Zante in Greece.

Martin said: “We had all his clothes laid out in the lounge. Tara, my wife, Charlie’s mum had put together a first aid kit for him. We had all his euros on the side, all ready and waiting for him to go.

“We’d started packing and getting him ready - his passport was on the side and everything was set out for him on the Monday.”

One of Charlie’s friends was not going on the holiday, so Charlie had wanted to see him before going away, Martin explained.

“He said goodbye, he was happy, he was excited.

“Unusually, I decided to watch him leave. I walked to the lounge window and he got into the car. It was the last time I saw him move.”

The Argus: Charlie CosserCharlie Cosser (Image: Martin Cosser)

The family had gone to bed, as Charlie had planned to stay with a friend, but Martin woke around midnight to a loud knock on the door.

Martin said: “I rushed downstairs where I was greeted by two police officers. I was thinking ‘Oh god, what’s happened’.

“They said ‘Sadly, your son has been stabbed and he’s critical and you need to come with us.’”

Martin described feeling a sense of “absolute shock” as well as denial, hoping that somehow Charlie had not been involved.

“Charlie had never had a fight, he doesn’t even like raised voices - how could this be Charlie?” Martin said.

Martin, along with his wife and daughter Eloise threw on some clothes and got into the back of a police car which took them to the hospital.

Martin said: “I was just numb and in complete shock. I was sweating and being sick out of the window of the police car.

“I have PTSD - I can’t even hear sirens, it was horrendous.”

The Argus:

When the family made it to the Royal Sussex County Hospital, where their eldest son Adam was already waiting, they were ushered into a room and told that there was a significant chance Charlie would not make it through surgery.

“We sat there for four hours with no information at all and eventually a doctor came to see us to say Charlie was still incredibly ill, but they had been able to stabilise him,” Martin said.

Six hours later, the family were able to see Charlie, where “we were greeted with something no parent should ever have to see”.

“Our little boy had eight or nine tubes coming out of him - he had tubes coming out of his neck, he had to have blood transfusions and there were doctors and nurses standing around him,” Martin said.

The Argus: Charlie CosserCharlie Cosser (Image: Martin Cosser)

For two days, Charlie’s condition remained critical, with problems with his heart and blood pressure.

The family were told that, 48 to 72 hours after trauma, the body begins to swell and that there was a concern of swelling in Charlie’s brain. Charlie was rushed into theatre for an operation that took a couple of hours.

Martin recalled that a lead consultant gathered them together and told them that Charlie had suffered irreversible brain damage and that he was brain dead.

“I took his hand on one side and my wife took his hand on his other side, his head was leaning slightly towards her. Eloise was next to me and Adam was next to my wife,” Martin said.

“They removed some of the tubes so we were able to cuddle him. We played a bit of music and then they switched his life support machine off.

“I watched all the colour drain from his flushed face and saw him take his last breath.”

'We have forgotten what it's like to be happy'

Four months on from Charlie’s death, Martin said that his family and friends are still dealing with the “snowball effect” of his loss.

Last month, the family marked what would have been Charlie’s birthday by planting a tree in his memory.

“Charlie wasn’t taking me down to the pub for a pint of beer, instead we were planting a tree because someone thought it was ok to stab him four times,” Martin said.


“We are mentally scarred for the rest of our lives - this has destroyed us.

“Relationships with family members and friends have become strained. People avoid us because they don’t know what to say.

“It’s very lonely when you’re in this place because nobody understands.

“It’s a horrible, horrible world - we just exist. We have no zest for life. We have forgotten what it’s like to be happy.”

The Argus: Martin Cosser, with daughter Eloise, son Adam, and wife Tara, after planting tree in Charlie's memoryMartin Cosser, with daughter Eloise, son Adam, and wife Tara, after planting tree in Charlie's memory (Image: Martin Cosser)

Martin said that Eloise, who has recently turned 16, has very poor attendance at school in her GCSE year as she is “struggling so much with the trauma”.

A friend of Cheeks, as he was affectionately known, is struggling so much “he can barely leave the house”, Martin said.

Amid the despair that the family continue to feel is a wealth of love from the local community, some of whom have offered to create a memorial garden at their home, as well as offering tattoos and a solid silver bracelet with Charlie’s fingerprint on.

Martin said: “It’s important to be positive. We have had an incredible outpouring of love and support from a lot of people, and that has given us some comfort.

“I do focus a lot on the negatives, but it is important to recognise people have been incredibly kind and we as a family are forever grateful for their love and support.”

Martin is setting up a charity in Charlie's name in the new year, Charlie's Promise, in an effort to educate young people on the dangers of knife crime.

Donations to Martin’s JustGiving campaign in memory of Charlie can be made at

All the money donated will be transferred to the Charlie’s Promise charity once it is founded in the new year.

This article is part of our Cut Knife Crime campaign.

Our mission is to reduce knife crime and the number of people being injured and killed in stabbings through:

  • Increasing the use of knife amnesty bins.
  • Educating young people about knife crime and making them aware of the effects it has on not just the victim, but those around them
  • Having more bleed control kits in pubs, shops and businesses