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Relatives left to pick up the pieces after senseless murders

Those who have lost loved ones have called for the violence to end.

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Devastated relatives became the face of London’s year of violence (Catherine Wylie/PA)

Devastated relatives became the face of London’s year of violence (Catherine Wylie/PA)

Devastated relatives became the face of London’s year of violence (Catherine Wylie/PA)

Grief, shock, incomprehension.

The pain of the living was an image too hard to ignore, even as London coarsened to news of death.

Their voices provided nuance when trends and headlines threatened to sand down the circumstances shaping each murder of 2018.

There was the mother sitting on a low brick wall, begging for an end to the violence that took away her teenage son, Rhyiem Ainsworth Barton.

There was the public outrage among friends and family of 17-year-old Tanesha Melbourne-Blake after she died in her mother’s arms.

Every time, the anguish delivered an emotional gut-punch that statistics could not.

Several deaths were linked to drill rap music, the soundtrack to London gang culture.

But Pretana Morgan, tearfully lamenting the loss of Rhyiem from the wall in Southwark, south London, had a different story about the young rapper.

The 17-year-old, a member of collective Moscow17, was described as an aspiring architect with “so much potential”, who had been “trying to make a difference” by learning to work with children.

He was killed by a gunshot wound in May.

Ms Morgan said: “Let my son be the last and be an example to everyone. Just let it stop. What must be, must be.”

The spectre of gang violence also hung over the death of Tanesha in April, but friends made clear she was an innocent casualty in a postcode war.

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Floral tributes rest against a wall near the site of Tanesha Melbourne-Blake’s murder (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Floral tributes rest against a wall near the site of Tanesha Melbourne-Blake’s murder (Jonathan Brady/PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

Floral tributes rest against a wall near the site of Tanesha Melbourne-Blake’s murder (Jonathan Brady/PA)

The youth worker was killed in a drive-by shooting in Tottenham, north London.

Amaan Shakour, 16, was shot dead minutes later in Walthamstow, east London, while out with friends.

Tanesha’s shell-shocked loved ones visited the site of her killing to leave flowers in the days that followed, many expressing disbelief and anger.

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Tanesha died in a drive-by shooting in Tottenham, north London (PA)

Tanesha died in a drive-by shooting in Tottenham, north London (PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

Tanesha died in a drive-by shooting in Tottenham, north London (PA)

Tottenham-raised rapper Wretch32 wrote online: “RIP to the young angel who lost her life … I’m honestly lost for words.”

Days later, a Facebook friend of Tanesha’s, Israel Ogunsola, also died from stab wounds in Hackney, east London.

Protesters flooded the streets of the borough in a united front against the spate of killings.

Other victims of this year’s violence in the capital died at their homes.

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Joel died in his home in Deptford, south-east London (PA)

Joel died in his home in Deptford, south-east London (PA)

Press Association Images

Joel died in his home in Deptford, south-east London (PA)

Seven-year-old Joel Urhie was killed when his family were targeted in a suspected arson attack in Deptford, south-east London, on August 7.

His father, John, paid heartbreaking tribute as he stood outside the shell of the schoolboy’s home the next day.

He said: “He was a very lovely boy who was just loving life and it’s a terrible loss.

“It’s terrible, the pain we can never forget.”

Pictures of a grinning Joel were shared with the media, including one of him dressed up as a firefighter.

PA


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