Bereaved parents unite to ensure loved ones are not forgotten this Christmas
Relatives of young people who died in violence stand together
20 December, 2019 — By Samantha Booth
Jenny Appleton, June Addai, whose grandson Marcel was killed in Hackney in 2015, Michelle McPhillips, Jessica Plummer and Lesley Hatley, whose son Lee Jay was stabbed to death in 2017
BEREAVED parents who have lost children in violence have stood together to ensure their loved ones are not forgotten this Christmas.
Michelle McPhillips has yet to get justice over the killing of her son Jonathan “JJ” JJ McPhillips who was stabbed to death in Upper Street in February 2017.
She helped organise a Christmas tree with baubles remembering the victims to be unveiled outside the Town Hall at a poignant service on Saturday.
It comes as the Town Hall launches a innovative scheme encouraging shops to end the sale of knives if they are not part of their core business and the installation of five more knife bins in the borough.
Ms McPhillips told the Tribune: “It’s really important because whenever a child dies, you are busy with the funeral and with press coverage with people all around you, but as time passes on, people talk less about your dead son and daughter and the incident and it makes you feel that people have forgotten about your children.
“It’s about keeping the pressure on the authorities and keeping the memories of our loved ones going so your child has not died in vain.”
At the service on Saturday afternoon, which the Town Hall helped organise, speakers included Ashley Walters – of series Top Boy and So Solid Crew fame – spoke of his memories of 28-year-old JJ and there were performances by St Mary’s Church choir.
Ms McPhillips, a popular landlady of the Green Man pub in Essex Road, said she wanted to do the event to keep light on her son’s case.
Nobody has been convicted for his killing after a case against one man from Hoxton collapsed in August last year because of concerns over the “reliability” of the evidence against him.
She said: “The last two years have been awful. I’m doing all of this because I have to do something to keep my son’s case alive. I have had no justice and I’m never going to give up and I hope people will talk.
“Something will give. I believe with the progress of science and CCTV in time they will be able to help me. It takes every ounce of me to get up every day and move forward and that doesn’t get easier, it gets harder. I want to know why they either picked on my son or whether it was a mistake. I’ve never had justice.”
Jenny Appleton, whose son 17-year-old Stefan Appleton was stabbed to death in Nightingale Park in 2015, said: “Society likes to brush the issue under the carpet and people act like this isn’t happening to us. They think it’s our problem but it’s everybody’s problem and we have to come together to solve it.”
Jessica Plummer, whose whose 17-year-old son Shaquan Sammy-Plummer was murdered four years ago, said: “By doing this we are making sure that we and our loved ones are not forgotten.”
Meanwhile, two shops have so far signed up to Islington Council’s new “No More Knives” scheme. It asks shops which don’t sell knives as their core business to stop selling them, in a bid to curb knife crime.
The latest statistics that went before the council last month show that the number of knife-crime offences came down by 10.3 per cent in Islington, while it was up across London by 1.4 per cent.
And while across London the number of under-25s injured with knives was down by 15.8 per cent, in Islington the number came down even further, by 26.5 per cent. Nedim Bilgin, 17, was stabbed to death in Caledonian Road in January and no one has been charged with his murder.
When the new knife bins are installed in the new year, there will be seven across Islington.
Patrick Green CEO of the Ben Kinsella Trust, Vinay Chohan owner of Vinay’s Shoe Care, PC Razwan Hussain, Cllr Andy Hull
Launching the No Knife Shops scheme at Vinay’s Shoe Care on Holloway Road on Tuesday, crime chief Cllr Andy Hull said: “None of these initiatives individually represents a magic wand that can be waved to make the problem of knife crime disappear.
“But, taken together, we’re hopeful they can and will make a difference, removing dangerous weapons from our streets to make our borough a safer place.”
Vinay Chohan, owner of the shop, said: “Local shops are an important part of their community and we don’t want people walking into them and coming out with dangerous knives. I’m calling on other shop owners to get behind the campaign and sign up.”