Clutching the red schoolbag belonging to his son Jai who perished in a flat fire deliberately started by his own mother, heartbroken dad Paresh Patel said: “This is all I have left of Jai now.”
Paresh, 43, a newsagent, who lives in Hutton, near Preston, had custody of his son for more than two years, but at the time of his death, Jai was staying with his mother Janma Joshi, 40, who failed to return Jai to his father after having him to stay for a week during the Easter holidays.
Jai was a pupil at Howick CE Primary School in Penwortham. Standing outside Liverpool Coroner’s Court following the inquest, which ruled that Janma Joshi took her own life and unlawfully killed Jai, Paresh said: “I took Jai’s schoolbag and a little badge he got for doing good work to the inquest as now I have lost Jai, there is nothing else I have left of him.
“I have got lots of memories of my eldest son, but physically, I have nothing left of Jai.”
Paresh, who went to the flat where Jai perished to lay down flowers following the inquest, says that it was harrowing to hear the details leading up to Jai’s death – particularly how Jai’s mother had planned the fire weeks before the tragedy.
Paresh said: “Hearing how it was such a pre-meditated act was extremely distressing.
“Janma Joshi bought the fuel 17 days before she used it so it was on her mind what she was going to do and it was pre-planned.
“It upsets me so much knowing that Jai went into that flat thinking he was going to spend time with his mum not realising that she was capable of taking his life and was planning to do this.
“I do not think who can do such a thing to their own child a ‘Mum’.
“To call Janma Joshi a ‘Mum’ is an insult to other mums who genuinely care about their children and want to protect them.”
A safeguarding review is currently underway looking into the circumstances leading up to Jai’s death. Paresh says he believes his son’s death could have been avoided and is now campaigning for changes to make sure no other family has to experience such a tragedy.
Paresh, who is now married and has two other children, said: “There were plenty of opportunities to get Jai back when his mother failed to return him to me when she should have done.
“We are hoping that the failures will be highlighted by the Serious Case Review so that we can stop something like this happening to another child.
“My personal goal is to address the issue of court orders and the procedures for enforcing them.
“I firmly believe that when a court order is made, it should be enforceable. If you have full custody of a child, you should not have to take the matter back to court if your ex-partner refuses to return them.
“We feel totally lost and helpless at losing Jai and he can never be replaced. We loved him so much and are struggling to comprehend that he is not coming back.
“The only thing that is keeping us going is trying to get something positive by seeking justice for Jai by preventing further child deaths resulting from similar circumstances.”