IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

Henry Hicks mural is saved from whitewash

Threat to remove tribute brings fresh heartache for family of teenager who died in moped crash while being followed by police

13 November, 2020 — By Calum Fraser

The mural tribute to Henry Hicks on Wheelwright Street sub-station near the scene of the 2014 crash

THE family of Henry Hicks – the Angel teenager who died in a moped crash while being followed by police – say they will ­never let him be forgotten after saving his memorial mural from being painted over.

Islington Council and UK Power Networks have backtracked after his father was told the treasured artwork on a Wheelwright Street sub-station would have to come down.

David Hicks, whose son’s death in 2014, aged 18, raised questions about police pursuits, called the Tribune earlier this week saying he was “distraught” after his family received a ­letter from the council ordering them to remove any sentimental items from the site.

The mural, near Pentonville Prison off Caledonian Road, has become a prominent feature in the borough and is a sacred site for the teenager’s relatives and friends who regularly mark special occasions there.

Henry’s tragic death sparked outrage in Islington

Mr Hicks told the Tribune: “What the council has done has caused a lot of distress.

“It brought back horrendous things, especially at this difficult time.

“When we first got the letter I was distraught. It was just completely devastating.”

Over the weekend, a council spokesman confirmed to the Tribune that they had written to the family advising them that the UK Power Networks sub-station was going to be refurbished. Less than a week was given to clear the site.

But word got round to Henry’s extended family and friends who then “inundated” UK Power Networks with emails and messages on social media pleading with the firm, who own the land, to reconsider the “heartless” decision.

The electricity distributor then decided to “suspend works to allow time for the council to reach a satisfactory outcome with the family”.

The Hicks family said it was left in limbo for days as they waited for the Town Hall to decide the fate of Henry’s memorial.

Mr Hicks said he had tried to call back the number on the letter several times but did not get a response.

Henry’s family placing flowers at the memorial

He added: “The 19th of December [2014, the day of the crash] was the worst day of my life. This spot became a place where people could come and think of my boy. It’s been there for five years and it’s not been a bother to anybody.

“We go there all the time: for Easter, Halloween, Henry’s birthday, Christmases. After my dad died we laid all his flowers there so he could be with Henry. I don’t understand why they suddenly decided to do this? It came out of nowhere and left me absolutely mortified.”

On Wednesday, the day the mural was due to be whitewashed, the council reversed its decision.

A council spokesman said: “We are very sorry for the distress that has been caused by the proposed removal of the memorial to Henry Hicks. We will contact Henry’s family to apologise for the way this has been handled, which we greatly regret. We have spoken with UK Power Networks, which owns the building, and the memorial will not be removed, as the council had originally requested.”

He added: “The death of Henry Hicks was a tragedy. We remain committed to working with his family to provide any support we can, and are very sorry for the upset that has been caused.”

Henry’s death six years ago sparked national outrage. Thousands of protesters marched on Islington Police Station in Tolpuddle Street.

Four Met officers were later cleared of any wrongdoing, with a disciplinary panel ruling they had not technically been in an official pursuit of Henry. The Indepen­dent Police Complaints Commission had earlier suggested that there had been one but it did not have proper authorisation.

The family have remained dissatisfied with how the case was handled.

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