IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

Manhunt after ‘brutal murder’ of 29-year-old

Tributes to young dad who was close friend of Upper Street murder victim Jonathon ‘JJ’ McPhillips

30 June, 2017 — By Emily Finch

Lee Jay Hatley was stabbed multiple times during a small gathering in a flat on the Dover Court estate in the early hours of Monday

TRIBUTES have been paid to a father-of-one who was brutally stabbed to death in Canonbury in the early hours of Monday, as police launched a nationwide manhunt to catch his killer.

Lee Jay Hatley, 29, known as Lee J, was stabbed multiple times during a small gathering in a flat on the Dover Court estate in what police have described as a “brutal murder”. A 22-year-old woman who was asleep in the flat was also stabbed and remains in hospital.

Police are hunting 24-year-old Bradley Wood in connection with the killing of Lee J, who was close friends with murder victim Jonathon “JJ” McPhillips, who was stabbed to death in Upper Street in February.

Speaking to the Tribune yesterday (Thursday), Lee J’s mother, Lesley, described her son, a former Highbury Grove School pupil, as “loveable, cheeky and funny, always the joker”.

Lee J’s younger sister, Lauren Hatley, 23, said his family were in shock.

She added: “He’d just put up a photo [on Facebook] of the three people he couldn’t live without – his dog, his baby, and his baby’s mum.”

She said Lee J’s son, Nicholas, who turned two last week, does not understand what has happened to his dad.

“He just goes to the photo of his dad, saying ‘dad, dad’ to everyone. He’s really proud,” she said.

“Lee J was a mummy’s boy, nearly 30 and still lived at home. One of the last messages my mum sent to him was ‘keep the noise down, there’s dinner in the oven’.”

Tributes to the 29-year-old near his home

Ms Hatley, 50, said of the killer: “We need him caught. This was a savage attack, and he is a danger to society, he really is. We just need to know why.

“Knife crime needs to be stopped now. We should be dying before our children, but they are dying before us. Something has to be done now before any more families go through this grief.”

Flowers and emotional messages have been left outside Lee J’s home in Morland Mews, Barnsbury, which he shared with his mother. One friend wrote: “LJ, my brother from another mother, can’t believe you’re gone, G.”

A neighbour, Ron Taylor, 77, who knew Lee J since he was a baby, said: “He was a nice, normal lad.”

Lee J died at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel – the same hospital JJ died at.

JJ’s mum, Michelle McPhillips, said: “JJ and Lee J knew each other from growing up in the same area. I’d known him for 10 years. He [Lee J] was a butterfly, a lovely, gentle guy.”

She added: “Islington needs to put pressure on people who carry knives. How many more children need to die?”

Ms Hatley added: “All us parents who have lost a child or young adult to knife crime need justice. Justice for Lee J and justice for JJ.”

A fund to raise £3,000 to pay for Lee J’s funeral was set up by a family friend on Wednesday.

The woman who was also stabbed during the attack, just before 2am, was initially arrested by police on suspicion of attempted murder but is now being treated as a victim. Her injuries are not considered life threatening.

Police have warned the public not to approach Wood. He is described as white, around 5ft 7in with fair hair and blue eyes. He is from Islington but police believe he may have fled to Northampton.

Detective Chief Inspector Dave Whellams, who is leading the investigation, said: “Work is continuing to piece together the events that led up to this brutal murder.

“We are now urgently trying to trace Bradley Wood in connection with our investigation. He should not be approached – members of the public should dial 999 if seen.”

Anyone with any information is urged to contact police on 020 8345 3775, via 101 or Twitter @MetCC. To give information anonymously call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or visit crimestoppers-uk.org

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