IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

Body in bin: ‘Nobody deserves to die that way’

Neighbours shocked by discovery speak of growing crime and anti-social behaviour in Holloway neighbourhood where ‘it’s getting quite scary now’

17 May, 2019 — By Calum Fraser

Police outside the derelict house in Holloway. ‘I am shocked but not surprised,’ said a neighbour

A NEIGHBOURHOOD was reeling this week after the body of a 23-year-old man was found dumped in a wheelie bin outside a derelict Holloway house.

Italian national Erik San-Filippo was named as the man found in a bin in Tollington Road on Saturday – after a prolonged wait for formal identification.

Residents living in the area expressed their sympathy for the man, but many felt the death was part of a wider issue of growing crime and anti-social behaviour in the area.

Andy Hull, local ward councillor and Islington Council’s executive mem­ber for community safety, said: “Police and medical investigations in this case are ongoing, so I can’t say much about the circumstances of this poor man’s death.

“What I can say is that it is deeply depressing that anyone should dump the dead body of a fellow human being in a rubbish bin.”

He added: “If, as seems plausible, this turns out to be connected to the local drugs market, that would represent a new low.

The derelict house in Tollington Road

“It would also be a reminder of the critical importance of the concerted work the police, council and partners are all doing to try to tackle drug-related criminality in the area.”

Alex, who did not wish to give his surname, moved from eastern Europe seven years ago into the housing block opposite the spot where the body was found.

He said: “I came here to find a better life. Where I come from there were murders and crime like this. I thought it was different here.

“When I first moved in it was one of the best places. It was peaceful.

“It’s getting quite scary here now. I have a small boy and I’m not sure I want him to grow up here.”

He added: “I feel so sorry for this man. No one deserves to die in that way. To disappear one day and nobody knows about it, what kind of a life is that?”

Councillor Andy Hull: ‘Deeply depressing that anyone should dump a body in a rubbish bin’

It was reported in the Italian press that Mr San-Filippo had moved to London a few months ago and was working in a restaurant.

There is no suggestion that the death is linked to drug problems.

It is currently being treated as “unexplained”. A post-mortem proved “inconclusive”.

Fasima Elizabeth Miah, who lives nearby and regularly walks past the house, said: “RIP to the person who died. May his soul rest in peace. He deserves justice.

“It is weird for this to happen without anyone noticing. We’re all good and bad, but no one deserves to be treated like that. We all get given a life to live.”

Ann Devine, who lives in the street adjoining Tollington Road, said: “I am shocked but not surprised because many people in this area really need more support than is available.”

A 52-year-old man arrested on Sunday on suspicion of murder has been bailed to return on a date in mid-June.

Police are asking anyone with information to come forward by calling CID on 07827 872423 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

House sale halted as landlord comes under fire

Campaigner Will McMahon: ‘Irresponsible sell-off’

A SOCIAL housing provider has halted the sale of one of its proper­ties after a body was found in a wheelie bin outside, writes Calum Fraser.

Clarion Housing Group had put the house in Tollington Road up for auction, with a bidding battle due later this month. The body of Erik San-Filippo, 23, was found by a neighbour in a wheelie bin in the garden on Saturday, sparking a police investigation.

Campaign groups Action on Empty Homes and Islington Homes for All called on Clarion to halt the sale in light of the shocking discovery. Last night (Thursday) Clarion removed the house from an auction list – but it may return to auction at a later date.

A spokeswoman said: “We can confirm we will be removing 53 Tollington Road from auction while the police investigation into this tragic event is ongoing. Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the victim at this time.”

Action on Empty Homes director Will McMahon said: “We have been working with housing organisations and auctioneers to seek an end to this kind of irresponsible sell-off.

“So many homes sold at auction simply remain empty, bought unseen by investors hoping to make a quick profit or happy simply to wait for an increase in value which doesn’t always come.”

He added: “Worse still are those which blight the lives of neighbours and communities as targets for vandalism and anti-social behaviour. Sadly, at Tollington Road it appears that this might have reached disturbing and grisly levels following the recent ‘body in the bin’ discovery outside the property.”

Police were called to the house in Holloway at about 4pm on Saturday. An investigation into the cause of death continues.

Mr McMahon said: “We are keen to see Tollington Road brought back into use as a much-needed social home for people in Islington.”

Neighbours told the Tribune that they believe there has been anti-social behaviour and “drug use” in the area in connection with the house. A mother-of-one, who lives in a social housing block two streets down from Tollington Road, said that the house had been “empty for years”.

She had always wondered why this was so “considering the housing crisis we are in”.

A viewing was held at the six-bedroom house on Wednesday afternoon with a string of prospective buyers looking around. Housing valuation company Zoopla has estimated that the house could cost buyers more than £1million. As the Tribune previously reported, campaigners have warned that around 40 housing association homes in Islington are sold off at auction every year, a trend which critics say indirectly helps to price people out of the borough.

Andy Bain, who chairs Islington Homes for All, agreed that it would be “insensitive” to continue with the auction with an investigation still live.

He said: “We believe it should be refurbished and put back as a proper social rented property because the council is desperate for this. It is important that the property becomes a home for families in the borough and alleviates the 14,000-person waiting list.”

Islington’s housing chief Diarmaid Ward said: “We’re really proud that so many of our street properties are council homes and social homes. The council would only consider selling one of our own homes in very exceptional circumstances and all proceeds would go back into building more council homes.

“So I’d be very concern­ed if any housing assoc­iation has plans to sell off any of their homes in the borough. I’ll be raising this issue with the chief executive of Clarion.”

A Clarion spokes­woman said: “As the largest social landlord in the country, we constantly review how we support people with the greatest housing need. “If one of our homes becomes vacant, we carry out an options appraisal to decide how best to use it in the future. Our options appraisal for the property in Tollington Road concluded that the property would require very significant investment to be brought up to our standards and then re-let as a social tenancy.

“As a result, we decided that selling was the responsible approach.

“Crucially, the revenue we will receive from the sale will be invested into our existing stock and building new affordable homes.”

Inside No 53… beer cans, broken glass and a single bunch of flowers

Cigarette butts litter the floor at the six-bedroom house

LESS than a week ago a dead body was dumped in a bin yards from where a man in a clean, pressed suit is standing and extending his hand to welcome me, writes Calum Fraser.

This is the first of many bewildering moments to follow as I sign a form and enter the house in Tollington Road, Holloway.

Auctioneers Allsop has put a starting value on the house of £850,000, while property comparison company Zoopla has stated that the price could pass £1million.

I wonder if the previous inhabitants knew they were living in a million-pound house? Or cared. It’s a six-bedroom house and you get small sense of those who inhabited the rooms.

There are cans and bottles of beer littered throughout the property, but in one room dozens of them have been neatly lined up. Each lovingly placed with the label facing forward in a cubby hole under the sink.

Flowers left in the garden 

Checkered blinds that block the light from many of the other rooms have been taken off and the sun streams in. Then you go next door. The window has been smashed from the inside, with glass spilling out onto the garden where the body was found. The sink in this room is full of cigarette butts.

I trudge up to the top floor. It’s meant to be a kitchen, but a mattress lies adjacent to the window facing out. Old food rots on table tops, springing a new life of its own. While I’m up here, two men march in. They laugh and ask if this is my place. They say they have seen houses in pretty bad condition in their time, but hearing there had been a dead body in the garden was something new. One of them sniffs the air, lets out a sigh and they head back downstairs.

As I step back outside into the sunlight I walk round to the garden. When a cyclist is hit on the road or a teenager is killed in one of London’s many stabbings, flowers start to build up as the days pass, placed by family members or passers-by who want to show their respect.

For the man whose body was found in the bin, there is one bouquet of flowers. It lies in front of a bush of wild roses. Many people assumed the death was directly linked to anti-social behaviour in the area. Whether it was or wasn’t, it has brought the media spotlight to a long-ignored part of the capital. As the spotlight came, the inhabitants of 53 Tollington Road disappeared.

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