Two teenagers stabbed to death within an hour of each other in London made 2021 the capital’s bloodiest on record for the age group.
It means 30 teens were murdered in 2021, the highest in London since the Second World War – eclipsing the previous toll of 29 in 2008.
It also took the total stabbed to death in England and Wales to 42, equalling the total from 2008.
A 16-year-old boy was fatally wounded at Philpot’s Farm, Yiewsley, west London, and was pronounced dead at 8.25pm on Thursday.
It followed the fatal stabbing of a 15-year-old boy in Ashburton Park, Croydon, south London, who was pronounced dead at 7.36pm. He was named locally as Zaian.
A 15-year-old boy was on Friday arrested on suspicion of the Croydon murder.
In Croydon, classmates paid tribute to their friend.
Some gathered, hugged and cried on each other as they visited the scene of the crime.
They wrote on flowers laid at the scene: “Zaian, You have always been a great friend and always made the class laugh when it was boring.
“You will always be remembered and present in our thoughts. Rest in eternal peace, we will all miss you dearly.”
An eye witness said she believed gang members circled the park in Croydon to make sure the boy was dead.
The young lad was believed to be with a friend when several other youths targeted him in the park, locals said.
Police were seen trawling through gardens, bins and bushes near Ashburton Park yesterday as they hunted for the murder weapon.
Detective Chief Inspector Richard Leonard said: “We’re in the very early stages of our investigation and my team have already undertaken a series of enquiries to establish what happened.
“The boy’s family have suffered a shocking loss and it is now up to us to find the answers to the questions that they are asking.”
Kristina Ray, 38, a mum of four who lives near the park, said: “I think I saw five or six boys.
“I couldn’t hear from the house what they were saying. I saw a white Mercedes that kept circling the scene.
“My gut feeling is that it was a big gang member that wanted to make sure this kid was dead.
“He had a loud engine, a modified engine, and you could hear him as he was going past. It came around, it stopped by the park, and then you could hear it.
“The boy was dead and lying on the ground.
“After that, there were a few boys that ran from the park. Some got picked up by the white Mercedes on one side, some on the other side, and some boy standing just there.
“I don’t know if he was friends or family, and he was just screaming for help.
“The police arrived and they tried to revive the boy on the ground.
“There were 17 police cars, an air ambulance, but they were too late and the boy was dead.
“There were so many cars, but I saw a car come out and this lady just collapsed. I guess it was the boy’s mother. She was on the floor just sobbing.”
In Hillingdon, the park was cordoned off while officers searched through piles of rubbish and drains, and divers probed a stretch of the River Pinn.
A police dog unit was also parked at the scene.
Veronika Machu, 36, said: “There’s often young people at all times of day hanging around and smoking down there [in the park], but the area itself is usually very safe. I’m shocked, I’ve lived here six years and nothing like this has ever happened that I know of.”
Patrick Green, chief executive of anti-knife crime charity the Ben Kinsella Trust, said social media and the coronavirus pandemic had a big impact on young people being involved in such incidents.
He said: “We and others have previously spoken about our concerns relating to the pandemic and how it related to young people.
“We feared we would see a particularly difficult summer, but we’ve actually seen an incredibly difficult year.
“If I look forward to 2022, I don’t know how that is going to be any different to 2021, or whether it is going to be worse.”
“Knife crime is accepted by this generation as part-and-parcel of growing up and that’s completely unacceptable.
“It shows that not enough has been done and if I’m being really critical then I’d say the approach to tackling it has been scattergun.
“We have to sustain our response to knife crime, it has to be over the long term and not just one- and two-year funding for projects.
“It is a societal problem which will continue unless it is addressed properly.”
The charity was founded in 2008 – the same year teenage homicides in London hit a then-record high – following the death of Ben Kinsella, who was just 16 when he was stabbed to death in Islington, north London.
Sarah Jones, Labour MP for Croydon Central, attended the murdered scene and spoke to community members outside the cordoned park.
She said: “We’ve seen knife crime go up across the whole country and we’ve now got this trend of young, horrific murders. I think it is a wake-up call.
“Of course we need support for our police officers, but what we’ve been saying for years is that you can reduce violence is if you invest in young services, trying to keep them in schools, support for special needs and mental health.
“We know that it works and we want that across the whole country, not just London.”
Here is a list of the 30 victims in London this year
– January 19: Anas Mezenner, 17, was found with stab wounds in West Green Road, Haringey, north London, shortly after 9pm. He was taken to hospital but died at 4.25am. The teenager had reportedly made an anti-knife crime video for a media studies course weeks before he died.
– January 25: Romario Opia, 15, was found stabbed in Holland Walk, Islington, north London, at around 5.30pm. He was pronounced dead at the scene a short while later.
– February 11: Hani Solomon, 18, from Wandsworth in south London, was killed during a fight between two groups of men shortly after 6.30pm in Ackmar Road, Fulham, west London. He was treated by police, paramedics and an air ambulance team but was pronounced dead at the scene less than an hour later.
– February 18: Drekwon Patterson, 16, from Wembley, north-west London, was stabbed in Preston Road, Brent, shortly after 11.30pm. He was taken to hospital but died the following morning.
Phil Harris / Daily Mirror)
– February 26: Ahmed Beker, 19, was stabbed in Paddington Green, west London, just after 9.10pm. He was treated by paramedics and an air ambulance team but died at the scene.
– March 3: Tai Jordan O’Donnell, 19, from Croydon, south London, was stabbed a number of times in the legs at a house in Alpha Road just after 12.10pm. He was pronounced dead within minutes of emergency crews arriving at the scene.
– March 6: Mazaza Owusu-Mensah, 18, died when he was stabbed in the chest during a fight in Edington Road, Abbey Wood, south-east London, at around 5.30pm.
– March 6: Ezra Okobia, 14, was fatally injured by fumes from a fire at his home in Russett Way, Lewisham, south-east London, shortly before 6am. He was taken to hospital but died four days later. His five-year-old brother Joseph Okobia and mother Victoria Amaning, 34, also died after inhaling fumes. Police believe Ms Amaning started the blaze.
Phil Harris / Daily Mirror)
– March 8: Nikolay Vandev, 19, was stabbed along with a second victim, aged 18, in Penshurst Road, Tottenham, north London, shortly before 2pm. Mr Vandev was pronounced dead at the scene, while the 18-year-old was taken to hospital and treated for non-life-threatening stab wounds.
– March 17: Hussain Chaudhry, 18, was stabbed in Lea Bridge Road, Walthamstow, east London, at around 5.20pm. Police and an ambulance crew attended but he was pronounced dead at the scene.
– April 10: Levi Ernest-Morrison, 17, was stabbed in Sydenham Road, Sydenham, south-east London at around 7.20pm.
– April 23: Fares Maatou, 14, was stabbed in Barking Road, Newham, east London, just before 4pm. Emergency services tried to save him but he was pronounced dead just over half an hour later.
– April 26 Abubakkar “Junior” Jah, 18, was found in Coolfin Road, Newham, east London, at around 3.45pm having been shot and stabbed. He died at the scene.
– May 7: Daniel Laskos, 16, was stabbed in Church Road, Harold Wood, east London, just after 6.40pm, during a fight. Ambulance and air ambulance teams tried to save him but he died at the scene.
– June 8: Taylor Cox, 19, was shot in Hornsey Rise Gardens, Islington, north London, at around 4.25pm.
– June 10: Denardo Samuels-Brooks, 17, was stabbed in Prentis Road, Streatham, south London, at around 4.15pm. He was taken to hospital but was pronounced dead less than an hour later.
– June 11: Jalan Woods-Bell, 15, was stabbed in a fight at around 8.30am during the school run in Blyth Road, Hayes, west London.
– June 25: Tashawn Watt, 19, was stabbed in Miall Walk, Sydenham, south-east London, just after 9.30pm. He was treated by an ambulance crew but died at the scene.
– July 1: Camron Smith, 16, was stabbed in Bracken Avenue, Shrublands, Croydon, south London, at around 12.45am. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
– July 5: Tamim Ian Habimana, 15, was stabbed in Woolwich, south-east London.
– July 5: Keane Flynn-Harling, 16, from Lambeth, south London, was stabbed in Oval Place, south London, at around 11.45pm.
– July 9: Damarie Omare Roye, 16, was stabbed in Bensham Manor Road, Thornton Heath, south London. He was taken to hospital but died two days later.
– August 1: Stelios Averkiou, 16, was stabbed at a skate park in Lordship Recreation Ground, Tottenham, north London, at around 2.15pm. He died nine days later.
– September 1: Alex Ajanaku, 18, was found in Beaumont Road, Leyton, east London, with shotgun wounds at around 1.30am. He was treated by police and paramedics but died at the scene.
– October 12: Hazrat Wali, 18, was stabbed to death in a playing field in Craneford Way, Twickenham.
– October 28: Kamran Khalid, 18, was stabbed to death in Harrow Road, Ilford.
– November 18: Jermaine Cools, 14, suffered stab wounds and died after a fight in London Road in Croydon. A murder investigation was launched after the incident.
– November 24: The Met was called to Raleigh Road in Southall at just after 9pm after reports of a stabbing following a fight involving a group of people. Officers attended and found 16-year-old Rishmeet Singh suffering stab wounds. He died at the scene a short time later.
– December 30: The Met was called to Ashburton Park in Croydon shortly after 7pm. Officers found a 15-year-old boy with stab wounds who died at the scene a short time later.
– December 30: The Met was called to Philpot’s Farm Open Space in Yiewsley, Hillingdon, west London, and found a 16-year-old boy with a puncture wound.
He was pronounced dead at 8.25pm and a murder investigation was launched, making him the 30th teenage homicide in London in 2021, surpassing the previous peak of 29 in 2008.