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A 15-year-old boy stabbed to death in Croydon on Thursday was named and photographed for the first time, after the number of murders of teenagers in London reached a record 30 murders in a single year.
Zaian Aimable-Lina was attacked shortly after 7 p.m. in Ashburton Park, but died about half an hour after paramedics were unable to save him.
Yesterday, a 15-year-old boy was arrested on suspicion of murder, before being released on bail on a date in late January.
A post-mortem examination was carried out today which revealed Zaian’s cause of death as a stab wound to the heart.
Detective Chief Inspector Richard Leonard said: “My thoughts continue to be with Zaian’s family and friends as they deal with this tragic loss. My team continues to work 24 hours a day so that we can give Zaian’s family the answers they deserve.
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‘Zaian’s death has caused a stir in the local community and in London in general. He was only 15 years old and his whole life ahead of him and we need the community to work with us to bring those responsible to justice. No matter how insignificant he may think it, if he has information that he can help, he should do the right thing and contact us immediately. ‘
Superintendent Dan Knowles of the Southern Area Command Unit, which watches over Croydon, said: ‘This tragic loss of a young life on our streets has rightly and understandably caused considerable concern among the local community.
“Our Crime Specialist colleagues are continuing their investigation and my officers are conducting enhanced patrols in the local area. I urge anyone who can help us to reach out to those officers and tell us what he knows.
Anyone with information should call the police through 101 citing the CAD reference 5443 / 30Dec. To remain anonymous, contact Crimestoppers at 0800555111.
His death came just minutes before police were called to report an injured man at the Philpotts Farm open space, near Heather Lane in Yiewsley, Hillingdon, west London.
The reasons behind the stabbings of the children are still unclear, but their deaths brought the number of teenagers killed in the capital last year to 30. The previous highest number was 29 in 2008.
The brutal new death record will inevitably put further pressure on Mayor Sadiq Khan, who this week claimed that stab crime in London has declined, to take control of the gang and the stabbing epidemic sweeping the streets of the capital. .
And activists against knife crime cautioned that not enough was being done to address the problem, as they criticized what they called London’s “scatter gun” approach.
Patrick Green, CEO of the Ben Kinsella Trust, which campaigns against knife crime, told MailOnline that he was not surprised by the record because “we’ve been going in this direction for quite some time.”
He said: ‘I can’t tell you that next year will be different, it will most likely get worse.
“This generation accepts knife crime as an integral part of growing up and that is completely unacceptable.
“ It shows that not enough has been done and if I am really critical I would say the approach to addressing it has been a trigger.
“We have to sustain our response to knife crime, it has to be long-term and not just with funding for one or two years for projects.
“It is a social problem that will continue unless it is properly addressed.”
The charity was founded in 2008, the same year London teenage homicides hit a record at the time, following the death of Ben Kinsella, who was just 16 when he was stabbed to death in Islington, north of London.
Green also echoed Commander Alex Murray’s request for parents to speak with their children to address the problem of knife crime.
Green said that in February of last year many anti-knife campaign groups and the children’s commissioner highlighted concerns
He added that because one-to-one support for vulnerable youth was removed due to coronavirus lockdowns, children were much more susceptible to being recruited by gangs.
Green said that in February of last year many anti-knife campaign groups and the children’s commissioner highlighted concerns they had about the harm that the lockdowns would have on vulnerable children and “sadly those fears have come true.”
He said: “Thirteen years ago, as a charity, we set out to do everything we could to prevent this from happening to another family, but now we are back in a worse place.”
Green added that the organization would be responding to skyrocketing levels of knife crime by taking advantage of Sadiq Khan’s new London Crime Prevention Fund.
And he also highlighted the detrimental effect social media has on teens. He said: ‘We need to recognize the role that social media plays, and companies should step up to prevent children from becoming desensitized to violence.
“Much more needs to be done about this, not just an online damages bill.”
An 18-year-old who lives near the field where the 16-year-old was fatally stabbed in Hillingdon on Thursday night said he was not surprised by the incident and feels young people are carrying more and more knives.
Bradley Wicks, a University of Brighton student who was home in Hillingdon for Christmas, said: ‘I was away at the time and my mom called to ask if I was okay.
“ When the reports came out today and I saw that I was in that field around 8:30 p.m., it must have been completely dark there at the time, I had not heard anything else about it.
‘Hearing that it had happened was not a surprise, but very sad. Now he spends all his time in London.
“ I’ve never had a problem with anyone the whole time I’ve lived here, but you never know what you can get into.
“I think it’s getting worse, there are more and more people getting involved in this kind of thing and then people getting involved to protect themselves now as well.”
Anthony King, a community activist in Croydon, said: ‘It’s just heartbreaking. It just isn’t right. It’s 10 steps forward, 11 steps back.
‘I have made efforts to contact the family. At the moment they are going through a great tragedy. They’re going through the pain, they’re going through the tears.
‘My message is to Croydon, please work with the Metropolitan Police. I mainly speak yes to the black community.
‘I know that trust issues have been a big issue over the years. But we must partner with the Met Police and work hard and tirelessly to eradicate this diabolical problem.
“I also ask for all parents, caregivers, foster carers, social workers, if you suspect a knife is missing from the house, please search the child. Let an agency know. Try to get help. There are people who can help.
“There are young people who feel the need to protect themselves and this is a message for all children: please understand the pain of parents and siblings who have lost a child.”
Beryl St James, a street pastor who works with the local community, said: ‘I think people don’t recognize the ripple effect of this.
“It may seem like it was a child, but the effects will have a massive impact.
‘That family will suffer, the devastation, the pain. It could be your cousin, your loved one, your friend. There are people like me who advise the family, who work with the police, but there are other families who will sit back and cry.
“It is not just the death of one, it affects a lot of people.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he was devastated by the deaths of the two teenagers, but claimed that knife crime had decreased in the capital.
He said: ‘I am truly devastated by the death of a 15-year-old boy in Croydon and a 16-year-old boy in Hillingdon.
‘The senseless violence has once again resulted in the loss of two young people with their lives in front of them and my thoughts and prayers are with the families, friends and communities of the victims at this terrible time.
“I continue to be in close contact with the Metropolitan Police, which is doing everything possible to bring those responsible for these murders to justice. Anyone with information should contact the police or Crimestoppers anonymously. There is absolutely no honor in remaining silent.
The boy was believed to be with a friend when several other youths attacked him in the park in Croydon, local residents claimed.
Kristina Ray, 38, a mother of four who lives near the park, said: “There were 17 police cars, an air ambulance, but they arrived too late and the boy was dead. There were so many cars, but I saw a car come out and this white lady collapsed. I guess she was the child’s mother. She was on the ground sobbing.
I am very sorry for the family. I have four children, they are not going to leave the house. It is awful.
‘I had to lie to my children. I have three small children. I said the boy had an allergy. He’s awful, just awful. He doesn’t wait for you at his doorstep. It’s the worst nightmare, I just want to buy another house.
“Always, he has always been safe apart from this.”
Sarah Jones, a Labor MP from Croydon Central, attended the scene of the murder and spoke with community members outside the cordoned off park.
She said: ‘We have seen knife crime increase across the country and now we have this trend of young and horrible murders. I think it’s a wake-up call.
“Of course we need support for our police officers, but what we’ve been saying for years is that you can reduce violence by investing in youth services, trying to keep them in schools, special needs support and mental health.
“We know it works and we want that across the country, not just in London.
“In Croydon, we seem to have a real problem with knife crime. If you look at the numbers in the capital and across the country, actually, everywhere there is a problem with knife crime.
We do not know the details of this case, so we cannot draw conclusions about what happened to this young man.
‘When you have kids making decisions that are so dangerous, you have to look at the causes, the education, the health, you have to look at the whole support system and the 11 years of cuts to police and 11 years of cuts to Support Services.
‘We are all praying for them. This is the kind of year when you spend time with your family, when you are with his loved ones, when, hopefully, you relax between Christmas and New Years and look forward to the New Year to come.
But now there is a family that has lost their baby and I am absolutely devastated for them. The community is sending love today, but nothing can make it better. ”
Speaking outside Ashburton Park, where the 15-year-old was killed, Met Police Commander Alex Murray said “everyone has a role to play” in reducing teen knife crime.
He said: ‘I cannot imagine the pain now felt by the families and loved ones of the two who died last night. It must be incredibly difficult.