Family of Birmingham stabbing victim pay tribute to 'light of our life'

7 September 2020, 17:34 | Updated: 7 September 2020, 20:09

Jacob Billington, 23, was fatally stabbed in Irving Street
Jacob Billington, 23, was fatally stabbed in Irving Street. Picture: West Midlands Police

By Megan White

The family of Jacob Billington, 23, who was killed in one of a series of knife attacks in Birmingham city centre on Sunday have said he was "the light of our life".

He was out with school friends from Liverpool who were studying in the city when he was attacked.

One of his friends, also 23, was seriously injured and remains in hospital in a critical condition, West Midlands Police added.

Another man, aged 30 stabbed in Livery Street and a 22-year-old woman, attacked in Hurst Street, remain critically injured in hospital.

Four others, three men and a woman were also injured.

In a statement issued through police, Mr Billington's family said: "Jacob was the light of our life and we have been devastated by his loss.

A man has been arrested after the stabbings in Birmingham
A man has been arrested after the stabbings in Birmingham. Picture: LBC

"He was a funny, caring and wonderful person who was loved by every single person he met.

"He lit up every room with his boundless energy and witty humour and the loss of such a special person will be felt by all who knew him for years to come.

"We ask that our privacy is respected during this difficult time."

Police said the suspect was arrested at an address in the Selly Oak area of Birmingham at around 4am on Monday.

A man and a woman, who suffered serious stab wounds, remain in a critical condition in hospital.

Officers said they received the first call to Constitution Hill, north of the city centre, just after 12.30am, where a man had received a superficial injury.

This was followed by a further call 20 minutes later to nearby Livery Street, next to Snow Hill railway station. A 19-year-old man was critically injured and a woman was also injured.

An hour later at 1.50am, officers were called to Irving Street, to the south of the city centre, where a man died and another man suffered serious injuries.

Ten minutes later police were called to Hurst Street, in the heart of the city's Gay Village quarter, where a 32-year-old woman was seriously injured and two men received lesser injuries.

Chief Superintendent Steve Graham said: “Our thoughts and sympathies are with Jacob’s family and friends after receiving such shocking news, particularly for those who were sharing their night out with him. It’s utterly shocking that a friends’ reunion should end so brutally.

“Equally the families of the other victims have been left devastated by the events of Sunday morning and we are working hard to discover what led to the apparently random attacks. We have no suggestion that the motive was either racial, homophobic or gang-related.”

West Midlands Chief Constable Dave Thompson said in a statement: "In the early hours of this morning (Monday), West Midlands Police arrested a 27-year-old man in connection with the stabbings in Birmingham city centre on Saturday night. Our investigations are ongoing.

"The events of the weekend have been extraordinary. These are events quite unlike anything I have seen on our streets before.

"They have also been tragic with the awful loss of life and serious injuries we have seen. My thoughts are very much with the victims and their families.

"I want to offer my thanks to the members of the force and the West Midlands Ambulance Service who responded on the night and to those staff who are now part of a fast moving investigation.

"As this continues members of the public will notice an elevated policing presence in the city centre to ensure that they are safe and feel safe as they return to work and this will continue as long as necessary.

"I am grateful for the work of officers and staff in West Midlands Police and the support we have received from other forces in the country to support this operation.

"I would also add my thanks for the support we have received from the Prime Minister, Home Secretary, Police and Crime Commissioner for the West Midlands, the West Midlands Mayor and the leader of Birmingham City Council and many other local politicians. I am also very grateful to the media for their assistance in sharing our appeal.

"Most importantly I want to thank the public. From those who tried to help those who were injured on the night, for the people who have sent in footage and over one million people who have viewed the CCTV footage we released.

"Your support and assistance remains vital and we need you to keep supplying us images and information. The investigation is still at an early stage."