BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

24 September 2014

BBC Homepage
»BBC Local
Things to do
People & Places
Religion & Ethics
Arts and Culture
BBC Introducing
TV & Radio

Sites near Berkshire


Related BBC Sites


Contact Us


Tony Thomas
Tony Thomas: 'I was a fringe dad'

'I feel disgusted. I'm so, so sorry'

By Tony Thomas
Adrian Thomas is one of six young men convicted of the murder of Reading schoolgirl Mary-Ann Leneghan in 2005. With youth crime back under the spotlight his father, Tony, tells us why he thinks Adrian did what he did.

Mary-Ann Leneghan

Six men were convicted in 2006 of Mary-Ann Leneghan's murder a year earlier.

Mary-Ann and a friend were abducted in Reading, subjected to a three-hour ordeal of torture and rape in a hotel room, then taken to Prospect Park in the boot of a car.

Mary-Ann was killed but her friend, who was shot at point blank range, survived.

Tony Thomas spoke to BBC Radio Berkshire's Andrew Peach about the role of fathers and gun crime:
audio Listen: Tony Thomas >
Audio and Video links on this page require Realplayer

I don't know if I'll ever see Adrian again.

He's still playing silly buggers in prison. This is what happens when kids are lost, they don't have a proper sense of morals.

Had any one of those boys [on the night of Mary-Ann Leneghan's murder] had a reasonably decent set of morals, they'd have known when to pull out of that situation and go home.

I knew he was wayward and he was behaving in a way that suggested he could fall victim to something like this. I feel disgusted. Words can't explain how something like this affects me. I'm so, so sorry about it.

Fringe dad

In one sense he's a perpetrator and he's been a very bad person, but in his youth I feel he should've had certain sets of morals and principles which possibly could have stopped what happened.

Mary-Ann Leneghan
Mary-Ann: murdered in Reading's Prospect Park

I was a fringe dad in his life, really. I couldn't actually talk to him, he wasn't receptive if I wanted to go and talk to him. We had an estranged sort of relationship even though I was within 15 or 20 minutes' walk of him.

That's probably part of why things went wrong for him. Positive male influence is a big part of our children's lives.

If anyone out there doesn't know that, then go into the prisons and for the majority of men - and girls - in prison, fathers are a big, big issue in their lives.

Status symbol

We've got some useless men in this world and most men should be encouraged to do their part with their children. That father thing is vitally, vitally important.

Adrian Thomas
Adrian Thomas: one of six found guilty

That doesn't mean there's any one solution to things like gun crime - it lies in a combination of things, like children and their rights, the lack of fatherhood and so on.

But the solution isn't just prison. Most people with common sense know that for kids going to prison it's almost like a status symbol. Going to prison alone is not enough.

Even in prison they need some form of assistance in order to rehabilitate themselves. Most of the time it's left solely up to the system.

last updated: 19/02/07
Have Your Say
Your name: 
Your comment: 
The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

I feel really terrible for Mary and her friend and just to think what they went trough is just hard to imagine I just hope that those men get what they deseve for the horrifying crime they committed. My thoughts are with Mary Ann family

pattie gilmour
I was there in Reading when this all happened and it still makes me so upset to think what Mary Ann and her friend went through. I will always remember her and the way the town felt about her death. I can still remember hearing the news that someone had died and I'll never get over it.

theres no excuse for what those sick men did .they deserve to be tortured and killed just like he did to those girls .i hope they live a miserable thoughts are with mary annes family .

It was wonderful to hear Tony Thomas this morning. He said this about the mother of Adrian, "we couldn't talk rationally." He didn't spend the time blaming someone else, or even himself. He just saw this as something positive he could do in the future. It is sad he can't do much to change his own son's life, but I found that even as a woman I can learn Tony's practice and forego the opportunity to criticize the other side. I can have an impact by changing my own behavior.

ian williams
i have lived in reading for the past 15 years, and my only reason for comming was to bring my children up in a better place thean where i grew up. i am no longer with my wife, and i have had to go through hell just to make sure i can see my kids. evan as far as breaking the law, just to get my voice heard. i was from a broken home myself and spent alot of time in and out of care homes. my mother died when i was six, and my dad found it hard to bring me up and hold down a job, so i as put into care.i lived in a world of my own and did not fit in ith other kids. when i went home to see my dad after about a year of not hearing from him, i would feel strange as if i did not belong around him. by the time i was 13 i was already in trouble with the police. i felt lost as a child and alone, it was as if no one could under stand how sad and unloved i felt. all i had seen and known in the short time i was on the planet was beatings death and fear. the only place i felt save was with my street freinds. evan though they never spoke about it, i knew alot of them had it worse off than i was. it has taken me years to understand the man i am today. and i still have alot to learn about my self. i show my kids all the love i never had, and at the same time, i show them self respect. but unless fathers rights are seen and respected, who knows what will happen to our young...

I have recently split from my long term wife and I have 2 children. It has been my over riding goal to continue to support, guide and love my children and nothing will get in the way of this even tho my ex is trying to make this as difficult as possible. It seems that us men are always at fault when a split happens and it is deemed that the mother will have care of the children because of their gender, and the fathers must fight to keep some kind of contact. Please take fathers into accout and dont label them as the wrong doers, as it can so easily be the mothers in some circumstances.

Unmarried Father
As an unmarried father the only right I have is to pay 30% of my take home pay to someone who refuses to let me see or have any say in my 1st sons life. Perhaps if the government penalised mothers who stop contact instead of rewarding them I could have some influence on my sons life.

Maybe this will make it easier for fathers who are desperate to have some form of access to there children. There are some fathers out there who have been fighting for years to be a part of the childrens lifes. It seems like fathers are getting the blame for it all. This is not right. Maybe people will now understand FATHERS FOR JUSTICE? Our voice might be heared finially.

Go to the top of the page

Colin Evans's gardening tips
Weekly tips from BBC Berkshire's gardening guru.

The Session
The new music radio show

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy