-- In loving memory of Emma O'Kane --

>Click here to read Michael's letter



In the early hours of the 27th December 2008, 'one of life’s angels' Emma O'Kane (aged 27) tragically died within the Queen Anne public house, Heywood, Manchester as she celebrated the birthday of her partner, Michael Shepherd. Emma was a barmaid at the bar but was off duty on the night tragedy struck as they had only gone into bring a wonderful night celebrating to a close, with their close friends.

She died after a shard of glass from a glass bottle thrown into the crowded pub by Neil McNulty, ironically also celebrating his 19th birthday, smashed against a pillar inside the public house and shattered. The shard of glass severed her jugular vein and artery causing her to bleed to death in the arms of her beloved Michael, who battled to save her life.

Neil McNulty had became abusive when he and his friends were not allowed inside the pub by doorstaff and as the 'red mist' descended he threw the glass bottle that took Emma's young life from her devastated family. He was charged with Emma's Murder on the 28th December 2008.

Emma was a mother to three lovely children Reece (6 yrs) Jack (2 yrs) and one year old Ellie May.

Michael, a roofer by trade had been discussing their wedding arrangements with Emma on the tragic night and has since had to give up work to raise their children, on his own.

Dear friends,

Once in a lifetime if you are lucky, you will meet somebody that is the most important person in your life, they will change your life forever and make all your dreams come true, that person is your soul mate. That is what Emma became to me from the moment I met her, my life changed and all I ever wanted suddenly became a reality. It breaks my heart to know that we will now never spend the rest of our lives together and make our dreams come true.

I am Michael Shepherd and this website is dedicated to my wonderful fiancé, Emma O’Kane who was taken from our family so tragically in December 2008, by an act of violence that changed our lives forever. I hope that when you read this you will understand how special Emma was to everybody who knew and loved her.

As a family, we hope that by reading our story, people will stop and think about their behaviour whilst under the influence of alcohol, and how this can affect other people’s lives. We hope that by reading this story you will back our campaign to ban glass from pubs, clubs and bars across the country, to prevent another family going through the pain and devastation we have suffered over the last 2 years.

Emma was a wonderful, gentle and caring lady that was so special to me and all who had the honour of knowing her. She was loved by her friends and cherished by her family. She was the eldest of four children and had a special relationship with her brothers and sister, making sure they knew how much she loved them.

When Emma was a teenager she wanted to look after other people, so it came as no surprise when she became a care worker for the elderly and went on to achieve her NVQ in Social Care when she was 19.

Emma was also a mummy to three wonderful children who were her life, and everything she did had to fit around them. They always came first. She loved nothing more than tucking them up in bed at night and stroking their hands to get then off to sleep. They made her smile each day, and were her world. Emma always strived to teach the children to be their own person and today when I look at them, I can see they are growing up into the people she always taught them to be. For this I am so thankful to Emma and so proud of our lovely children.

Emma was born on the 9th June 1981. Her dad is Mike O’Kane and mum Diane. From the stories we have shared as a family I know Emma was a wonderful little girl who gave her parents and family joy each day. From the photographs I have seen of Emma when she was a little girl, I can see so much of her in our own daughter Ellie Mai. This brings me so much comfort; to know that a part of Emma lives on in our own little girl.

Emma was 21 when she had her first little boy, Reece. Even though it came as a surprise to Emma, she could not wait to become a mum. The first time she held Reece, she told me she was overwhelmed with love for him and becoming a mum was the greatest achievement in the world. I came into Reece’s life when he was 2 years old and it was very important to both Emma and I that he came first before anything else.

I met Emma in a local nightclub called The Basement, where she worked at weekends in order to provide the best she could for Reece. The night I met Emma, I asked her for her phone number but she told me I would have to impress her first, so I spent 3 months trying to impress her and making her smile with my silly jokes. Then one night she gave me her number and I realised then just how special she was; but I had no idea how she would change my world forever and become my soul mate.

It was love at first sight and I was introduced to Reece. We quickly developed a special bond and he became my little boy too. After a few months dating, Emma, Reece and I moved in together and, in July 2005, Emma told me she was expecting our first baby. We found out we were expecting a little boy and decided to name him Jack. In October 2006 we found out we were expecting our little girl Ellie Mai. Emma was so excited, she had always wanted a little girl with pig tails. On the first day of school, we made sure Ellie went off to school in pig tails just like mummy wanted.

Emma and I had planned to marry on the 18th September 2010 and she was busy planning our big day. We were both so excited and couldn’t wait to spend the rest of our lives together and watch our children grow up.

On Boxing Day 2008, Emma and I had planned to go out with friends to celebrate my birthday. It started off as a great night, laughing and dancing. Emma loved to dance, her favourite song to dance to was 9 to 5 by Dolly Parton. This is the song that brings back so many happy memories for Emma’s friends, as they remember it as 'their' song.

The night seemed to go really quickly and we decided to have a final drink in the Queen Anne Pub, where Emma worked and had many friends. Emma had gone outside to have a cigarette while I finished my drink; I still remember her smiling at me as she walked towards the door. I smiled back, little realising that this would be the last time I would see her alive.

A fight had started outside the pub and I remember the door staff asking people to leave through the back door. My first thought was for Emma, and as I went to look for her one of the door staff tapped me on the shoulder and said Emma had been hurt. As I walked into the room where Emma was I saw her laying on the floor just staring up at me. I held her hand tight and tried to reassure her that everything would be okay.

Emma died in the early hours of 27th December 2008. Her death was the result of a young thug throwing a bottle in anger into a crowded pub, as he had been refused entrance. His name was Neil McNulty, and in April 2009 he was sentenced to 4 and half years imprisonment for killing Emma. Emma had no involvement in the fight that took place, she was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time when she was struck by the bottle Neil had thrown.

Each day I wake up faced with the responsibility of bringing up or children alone, knowing that Emma will never see her babies grow up, which was the one thing she wanted most in life. All our dreams, all the plans we made have been taken from us. But worst of all, our children will never get their mummy back, never feel her arms around them and never see her wonderful smile again as they grow up.

As a family, we are left devastated by the tragic loss of Emma. We are trying to rebuild our lives and carry on but the gap Emma left in our lives will always be there.

Sincere thanks to all, for your support and heartfelt good wishes,



Neil McNulty was sentenced to four and a half years imprisonment Tuesday 7th April 2009 by Judge Michael Henshall for Manslaughter, following the Crown Prosecution Service accepting that there was 'no realistic prospect of a conviction' for Murder. He is expected to be released in 2011.

In May 2010, Michael Shepherd helped create a series of six powerful radio adverts in association with Steve Penk's 96.2 Revolution Radio and Greater Manchester Police's Detective Sergeant John Murdoch, Oldham's Violent Crime Project Coordinator, to tackle the issues of alcohol related violent crime in Oldham and raise awareness of polycarbonate glasses.

Purely by coincidence Michael's 'Mummy's Star' radio ads, which were timed to run alongside the 2010 World Cup, were launched on June 9th, which would have been Emma's 29th birthday.

In August 2010, following the successful Revolution Radio ad campaign Michael was interviewed by ITV Granada North West News & by Heather Stott 'live' on BBC Radio Manchester.