THE heartbroken mother of Stephen Ashton – who was shot dead in Thailand during a New Year's Eve party – has spoken of her "anger" at his tragic killing, while paying tribute to his "zest for life".
Diane Ashton, 48, broke her silence yesterday (Thursday) morning to reveal how much of a struggle the death has been less than 18 months after her husband died from a brain tumour.
She also revealed how she spoke to her son via online video chat site Skype on Boxing Day before hearing the tragic news while on a skiing holiday in Austria with friends.
Mrs Ashton, speaking from the family home in Verulam Avenue, Purley, said: "We are devastated. I have got to be honest, hearing the news, I do have feelings of anger as well as mourning the loss that he's not coming back, which is the hardest thing to accept.
"He's my son. We have had a really bad time because I lost my husband a year ago. We are struggling to move on with our lives at a very difficult time.
"We Skyped with him on Boxing Day and he was having such a good time. He had such a special relationship with everyone.
"He looked so chilled and relaxed. He just seemed to be having a fantastic time. We take comfort that we saw him on Skype.
"What must have been the time that he died, on New Year's Eve, we were talking about him non-stop, about what a fantastic guy he was, how talented he was at his golf and his football.
"He had a very close relationship with his family. He had a special one with his grandparents, he had a special relationship with everyone.
"He had always wanted to travel and we wanted to encourage him in that. He had wanted to take some time out after the death of his dad, which he was devastated about.
"It is just unbelievable that he has now gone. He just had such a zest for life. He was such a talented lad. Everything he did he seemed to do well at. Whatever he did, he took to water."
Mrs Ashton said she had since spoken to Stephen more briefly again following Boxing Day, after he lost a bank card.
Speaking about Stephen's future ambitions, she added: "He surprised us, as he left school and didn't stay on to do A-levels. He wanted to make money by himself, just like his dad."
His father, John, whose funeral was in October 2011, owned Upstream Seafoods in Wallington.
Mrs Ashton remains at the family home awaiting news from the British Embassy as to whether she will have to fly to southeast Asia to identify her son.
Stephen's uncle, who was also on holiday in Thailand, who Mrs Ashton wished not to name, is awaiting the arrival of his nephew's body in Bangkok, where a post-mortem is set to take place.
Mrs Ashton added: "I keep hearing the news that I'm travelling to Thailand but I'm still waiting to hear if I need to. I don't know if I will go. It's hard to know what the right thing is to do and whether I can face it."
She expressed her thanks to her brothers, daughter Emily and friends for helping her to cope.
Friends pay tribute to life and soul of the party – Pages 8&9