IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

10 years after losing knife crime victim Ben, sister asks: Should we just give up?

Despite frustration at the recent surge in stabbings, Brooke Kinsella is determined to fight on

22 June, 2018 — By Emily Finch

Brooke Kinsella admits: ‘Ten years on from losing Ben, I really thought we would be able to stand up and be proud and say: ‘Look at the changes we have all made, that society has made’, and actually we are so far from that’

A SISTER who lost her little brother to knife crime 10 years ago this month has said she questioned whether there was any point to her anti-knife crime campaign after seeing the recent escalation of violence on London’s streets.

The murder of Ben Kinsella in York Way brought national attention to the scourge of knife crime in the capital back in 2008. But in a horrific mirroring of the year Ben died – 21 young people were stabbed to death that year in London – the Metropolitan police has this year already launched 46 murder investigations where the victim was stabbed.

Ben’s sister Brooke, 34, who starred in EastEnders was transformed into an anti-knife campaigner after the death of the former Holloway School pupil.

Around seven years ago she set up the Ben Kinsella Trust, with headquarters in Finsbury. It has educated thousands of schoolchildren about the devastating impact of carrying a knife.

Speaking to the Tribune, Ms Kinsella said it was “frustrating” to see the recent rise in knife crime.

She was nearby when Marcel Campbell, 30, was brutally stabbed to death in Upper Street last month.

“It’s petrifying actually what’s happening,” she said. “Ten years on from losing Ben, I really thought we would be able to stand up and be proud and say: ‘Look at the changes we have all made, that society has made’, and actually we are so far from that.

Ben Kinsella died while celebrating the end of his GCSE exams

“We’re completely the opposite of that right now. It does kind of make you think: is there any point? Should we just give up? But, you know, I don’t think that’s the answer.”

Ms Kinsella said her family was still suffering after the death of the 16-year-old while celebrating the end of his GCSE exams with friends – something countless youngsters will be doing this month.

“There’s not a day that you don’t kind of think about it. I’d give anything to see what kind of family we would be if this hadn’t happened,” she said.

“Life is really hard. I got married a few months ago and it was wonderful. But you know, to think my husband who I love will never know Ben makes things a little bit tainted.”

Of the three teenagers convicted of murdering Ben, Ms Kinsella said it was hard to think they would be released within the next decade and be able to restart their lives.

She said: “It really doesn’t seem fair that in that same space of time, they can come out, and they can start their life again, find partners, maybe have children, and Ben can never, ever do that.”

She added: “I can’t believe it’s been 10 years. Having not seen my little brother in 10 years is unthinkable to me but at the same time it feels like it happened yesterday some­times.

“They say time is a healer – it’s not in these circumstances.”

There is no simple answer to solving knife crime, said Ms Kinsella.

“I’m a big sister whose little brother was completely stolen away and I want justice. We need a long-term plan to solve knife crime ­ across all sectors, including in education, intervention and I firmly believe in zero tolerance for those carrying knives. All of London’s 32 boroughs need to be unified in their policies.”

Ben was attacked in North Road on June 29, 2008, when he was stabbed 11 times in less than five seconds.

His family have organised a sponsored 10km walk along the Regent’s Canal to coincide with that date.

Members of the public are invited to the 10-year anniversary memorial service at St John the Evangelist RC Church, in Duncan Terrace, Islington, on June 30, starting at 5.45pm.

Details at www.benkinsella.org.uk/

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