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Nashon Esbrand family: ‘Police and council, they’ve let us down, it’s just not good enough’

Somebody needs to be accountable, say family of knife victim who warned he was a gang target

29 June, 2018 — By Emily Finch

Nashon Esbrand, ‘a young man who went around doing good’

THE Metropolitan Police has launched an internal investigation into the “circumstances” that led to a new father’s murder as his family claim the 27-year-old was not given enough protection from gangs.

Speaking after the sentencing of three youths who killed Nashon Esbrand on Monday, his sister, Denise Garner, said she felt “let down” by police after her brother repeatedly said he was being targeted.

Mr Esbrand was pursued by members of a gang known as the Cally Boyz, made up of youths living off Caledonian Road.

His sister said: “The police and council are meant to uphold the safety of the community. All those agencies let us down, the police, the council – it’s just not good enough. Somebody needs to be held accountable.”

During the Old Bailey trial in March, the jury were told that Mr Esbrand had called 999 just a month before being stabbed to death in Canonbury to report another instance of being attacked by three youths who called him a “grass” – a term for a police informer.

The jury at the murder trial heard how he had told officers during a police interview that his “life is in danger”. He was targeted by the gang after he went to police regarding a much older incident.

Ms Garner said: “There’s a lot of stuff we, as a family, need to sit down and discuss now.”

During the trial, the prosecution said two of the five youths – Jhon Berhane and Jack Stevens – who pursued Mr Esbrand on August 24 last year were part of Cally Boyz and the Essex Road gang, who had merged in recent months.

Nashon’s aunt Sheeba Levi-Stewart and mum Princess Barton leaving court

A “drill” music video was played in court, with a police officer identifying Stevens and Berhane in the clip filmed on the Bemerton estate off Caledonian Road.

The video features a male rapping about the gang’s favourite weapons and admitting: “We are a violent gang”. Internet giant YouTube, owned by Google, refused to take down the video for months, even after a Tribune report revealed that the footage featured youths brandishing machetes.

Mr Esbrand’s mother, Princess Barton, said she was “not happy” that the council had not stepped in to offer more support to turn her son’s killers away from a life of crime.

She said: “The young one [who killed my son], did not the council know he was mentally troubled? They should have done more if they knew he had problems. I’m going to have to take this further. Why are they allowed to walk the streets? They [the council] contributed to him taking my son’s life.”

The 16-year-old, who was sentenced to 12 years in prison for murder but cannot be named because of his age, had lived in Islington and attended a school in the borough.

He was not a member of a gang but was deemed “at risk”, the court heard. A psychological assessment made after his arrest found he was “highly likely to meet the criteria for a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder”.

His defence barrister, Edward Henry QC, said: “His emotional life was stunted by trauma, punctuated by screaming, shouting and instances of domestic violence. His background was far from normal.” While his school attendance was around 100 per cent in 2015 it slipped to 35 per cent over the next couple of years.

The court heard how Jhon Berhane, 18, came to the UK on his own as a 10-year-old unable to speak English after his father was killed in Eritrea. He also lived in the borough.

His defence barrister, Philippa McAtasney, said: “His IQ is extremely low. He stood little chance of resisting the kind of pressure that is exerted on children and young people to be involved in crime. He was easy prey.”

Sheeba Levi-Stewart, Mr Esbrand’s aunt, said: “Nashon was a young man who went around doing good. No one felt it necessary to control these young men with all these problems. Either they were safe enough to let on the street or not – something should have been done.”

A spokeswoman for the Met said: “The Central North Command Unit has launched an internal investigation into the circumstances that culminated in the death of Nashon Esbrand. The DPS (Directorate of Professional Standards) has been made aware, as is standard practice in such cases.

“While an investigation is ongoing it would be inappropriate to comment any further.”

The Town Hall’s cabinet member for children, young people and families, Councillor Joe Caluori, said he would not comment on individual cases.


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