Hundreds of wellwishers marched through Romford town centre tonight in support of Jodie Chesney, who was brutally stabbed to death in a children’s playground while with friends.
The 17-year-old’s heartbroken family have made a heartfelt plea for anyone with information about her death to come forward, as her father urged people to ‘do the right thing’.
She was sitting with friends in a children’s playground in Harold Hill, east London, when she was brutally knifed in the back in a seemingly motiveless attack last Friday.
People carry purple balloons through Romford town centre, near to where Jodie was brutally killed on Friday in a children’s play park
Hundreds of people took part in the march through east London tonight to denounce knife crime in the capital
Protesters looked visibly moved as they made their way through Romford tonight carrying purple balloons in honour of Jodie
Men, women and children all took part in the march through east London on Thursday evening, carrying their own placards. One sign read ‘lives not knives RIP Jodie’
Huge banners were brought out onto the march with read ‘RIP Jodie’, along with love hearts drawn onto the sign
People march through Romford town centre to protest the fatal stabbing of Jodie Chesney
A young boy ties a purple ribbon in Romford town centre to protest the fatal stabbing of Jodie Chesney
Tonight, people carrying purple balloons and placards denouncing knife crime marched near Jodie’s home, as the capital struggles to get to grips with escalating knife crime.
Earlier on Thursday, Jodie’s heartbroken father, Peter, has described his daughter as ‘the nicest person ever’ and that she ‘wouldn’t have done anything to deserve this – no way.’
In a direct message to the killer, he said: ‘You’ll never know the pain you’ve caused and the beauty you’ve taken away.’
The 17-year-old Explorer Scout was murdered in a random and unprovoked attack as she sat with her boyfriend and three other friends in a park in Harold Hill.
A man has been arrested in Leicester in connection with the murder.
Her distraught father Peter Chesney, told Sky News today: ‘She was the nicest person any of us know or knew, everything about being kind and good and thoughtful.
A man has been arrested in Leicester in connection with the murder of Jodie Chesney (pictured), who was stabbed in a park in east London last week. Image undated
The heartbroken family of Jodie Chesney have spoken out today. Peter, stepmother Joanne and sister Lucy
‘There’s just no way you could do this to a nicer person. I mean, everybody is going to say that about their own kids obviously, but really, look what everyone is saying in other interviews and stuff, she really was just the nicest person ever.
‘She would not have done anything to deserve this.’
The arrest came after police received a tip-off the suspects travelled to the east Midlands – nearly 115 miles away – following the brutal stabbing.
Mr Chesney has issued a plea for those with information about the attack to come forward.
He added: ‘The message is just do the right thing. Someone knows who did this… the person needs to be caught. Jodie needs justice.
‘We need for Jodie to have justice. No one thinks this is OK. Surely nobody who knows the guy who did this thinks it is OK.
‘You can’t get kudos for stabbing a 17-year-old in the back. So, just dob them in, grass them up, this is not alright.
‘It was obviously a murder as well, it wasn’t accident… it was so ferocious the attack. She lost so much blood. This was on purpose, someone meant to murder her.’
Peter Chesney alongside his daughter Lucy and partner Joanne. The heartbroken family said Jodie was the ‘nicest person any of us know’
A man arrested in Leicester is thought to have travelled more than 100 miles away from London to Leicester
Mr Chesney said Jodie’s death has torn the family apart and that they are ‘a mess’, adding: ‘We don’t know how to deal with it.
‘Everyone is suffering because she was so good… everyone just can’t believe – why her? It is not one life deserves to be killed over another, but specifically her, she was so kind.’
Asked what Jodie was like, he said she was a ‘proud geek’, who was a ‘great girl’, and added: ‘The fibre of her being was just about being good, kind… there was nothing bad in her body.’
Her stepmother Joanne said Jodie, who did not realise how popular she was, was ‘very dry’ and ‘did not have a filter’, who said exactly what she thought whether someone wanted to hear it or not.
Family members of murdered teenager Jodie Chesney. Devastated stepmother Joanne and sister Lucy hold each other
‘Infectious personality, easy to get along with, no pretension at all. She wouldn’t have hurt anybody,’ Mr Chesney added.
Jodie’s stepmother Joanne said: ‘Even now it is still going on days later, the next day someone was killed. And then now a few days after that another person. Tomorrow someone else probably, Saturday someone else probably.
‘When, where do you stop? How many more families are going to have to sit here and go through this?’
Asked for their thoughts on the calls for tougher sentences for those who carry and use knives, Mr Chesney said ‘that would do it – 100%’.
Mr Chesney, who was wearing a purple ribbon pinned to his chest that was made by Jodie’s friends, said many of her peers are dying their hair purple in her honour.
The colour was her favourite, her family said.
‘There is purple everywhere in the area, I like that. But people who know Jodie, she will be remembered for being kind,’ Mr Chesney said.
‘It is nice to know she is being remembered by so many people. It is good, I love it.’
Her family said she loved animals – particularly dogs – and had once wanted to be a vet.
Asked what message the family have for those who carry knives or are thinking about it, Mr Chesney said: ‘I don’t know when this happened, when this was OK to carry knives and use them, it wasn’t like that when I was at school.’
He added: ‘The message is, just think about what you are going to do with your life. If you are going to carry a knife and if you’re going use a knife, you are going to ruin your life, and others – and why?’
Police said the killer and an accomplice were spotted watching the five friends, who were socialising on Friday evening in a playground in Harold Hill.
Composite picture of some of the people who have lost their lives to knife crime this year. Top row, from left: Tudor Simionov, Jaden Moodie, Nedim Bilgin, Lejean Richards, Dennis Anderson. Middle row, from left: Patrick Hill, Sidali Mohamed, Bright Akinleye, Abdullah Muhammad, Glendon Spence. Bottom row, from left: Kamali Gabbidon-Lynck, Hazrat Umar, Che Morrison, Jodie Chesney, Yousef Ghaleb Makki
Sadiq Khan rolls his eyes when probed on knife crime funding
Major of London Sadiq Khan today rolled his eyes when he faced questions from a Sky News reporter about funding for the fight against knife crime.
Mr Khan claimed he had done ‘as much as I am allowed to do under the law’ by setting up a £45million youth fund and raising council taxes.
But the Major insisted cuts in funding from central government had left him hamstrung.
Sadiq Khan during today’s interview on knife crime
‘I’ve raised council tax three years in a row, but also used the money from business rates to invest in policing and youth services,’ he told Sky.
‘The investment we are putting in doesn’t fill the massive hole left by the Government.’
At this point Sky’s Sarah-Jane Mee interrupted, saying: ‘You keep shifting it onto central government.’
Mr Khan then rolled his eyes in frustration, before the presenter asked why he wasn’t ‘taking personal responsibility’ for the issue.
The duo left but returned at 9.30pm wearing balaclavas and one of them, described by the Metropolitan Police as a young black male, stabbed Jodie once in the back, all without saying a word. The pair then ran off in the direction of Romford Road.
Friends from Havering Sixth Form College said Jodie had no enemies and suggested she could be the victim of mistaken identity.
Eddie Coyle, her 18-year-old boyfriend, screamed for help as his girlfriend lay bleeding with the knife lodged in her back. She was pronounced dead an hour later.
Detective Chief Superintendent Shabnam Chaudhri, who is leading the police response to the murder in the local community, said on Monday afternoon: ‘We still don’t have any idea (why Jodie was attacked).’
She said investigators were ‘focusing totally’ on a witness appeal to try and track down the suspects. Police have asked anyone who may have CCTV or dash cam footage between 7pm and 11pm on March 1.
Ms Chaudhri refused to speculate on whether the attack could have been some form of gang initiation.
She said the Met’s Violent Crime Taskforce had been deployed in the Havering area as well as on additional patrols in the boroughs of Redbridge, Barking and Dagenham and Havering.
A post-mortem carried out on Sunday established that the cause of Jodie’s death was trauma and haemorrhage, and police released a photograph of the teenager on the same day.
Jodie was a Girl Scout and school friends said students at Havering College would be wearing purple next Friday in honour of Jodie and her Barking & Dagenham scout troop colours.
She posted a photograph on Instagram with fellow scouts at 10 Downing Street on Remembrance Day last year, with the caption: ‘I’m basically famous now … this was such a good opportunity and so much fun.’
It came as two teenagers were charged over a fatal stabbing attack on Yousef Makki in Hale Barns in Trafford on Saturday night.
Last night Greater Manchester Police said a 17-year-old boy had been charged with Yousef’s murder.
He has also been charged with possession of a bladed article. A second 17-year-old boy has been charged with assisting an offender and possession of a bladed article.
The boys, neither of whom can be named due to their age, were kept in custody overnight to appear before youth court in Manchester this morning.
The scene of the crime in Romford on Sunday where Jodie Chesney was knifed to death. Forensic police officers search the park as flowers and lanterns are left nearby
The family of Ms Chesney are among those to back tougher sentences to tackle the knife crime crisis.
Relative Karen Chesney appealed on Facebook for support for a petition calling for a 10-year jail term for knife possession and 25 years for using a knife.
It comes as a man in his 20s has become the 14th stabbing fatality in 16 days as police and politicians struggle to contain the wave of violence.
The Spanish national, named by police locally as David Martinez, was stabbed six times inside a house in Leyton, east London, before being chased barefoot down the street, reportedly by three men, before collapsing and dying.
Within hours of his death, the 22-year-old victim of an attack in Oxford on February 27 died in the John Radcliffe hospital. He had been run over and repeatedly stabbed, police said.
Police officers fought in vain to save Britain’s latest stabbing victim, pleading with the dying man ‘My friend. Can you hear me? Talk to me’ as he lay on the street in Leyton, east London.
Another witness described seeing the victim running down the street with no shoes on after first being attacked in his home. After being pursued he collapsed on the pavement.
Despite frantic efforts by police, and witnesses who rushed to bring blankets to the injured man and gave him a cushion to rest his head, the man died at the scene in East Leyton at around 5.10pm.
Officers cut away his clothes and attempted to stem the flow of blood before paramedics arrived. One was heard to say as he cut away the trousers: ‘He’s been stabbed in the leg too.’
As blood poured out of the victim’s body a bystander screamed: ‘Oh my god.’ The officer begged the victim to stay awake at one stage pleading: ‘My friend. Mate, mate, mate, talk to me. Can you hear me.’
Another officer says: ‘Are you with me? No, he’s going.’
Within minutes paramedics arrived and took over giving him oxygen and attempted to save his life. The officer could be heard desperately urging the victim to ‘stay with me’ as the ambulance arrived and paramedics took over.
In Coventry a 14-year-old schoolgirl was chased by up to 15 other teenagers before being attacked with what one witness described as scissors. The victim’s injuries are not life-threatening an a 16-year-old girl was arrested.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Parliament petition had been signed more than 33,000 times. A total of 100,000 signatures are required before a petition can be considered for debate by MPs.
Britain’s most senior police officer, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick, clashed with the Prime Minister on the issue, insisting there is ‘obviously’ a connection between reductions in officer numbers and street violence. She also refused to rule out calling in the Army to help.
Police officer numbers in England and Wales have dropped by more than 20,000 since 2010, while levels of violent crime have risen in recent years, and Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said the military would be ‘ready to help’ play a part in tackling knife crime.
Ms Dick told LBC: ‘If you went back in history, you would see examples of when police officer numbers have gone down and crime has not necessarily risen at the same rate and in the same way.
‘But I think that what we all agree on is that, in the last few years, police officer numbers have gone down a lot, there’s been a lot of other cuts in public services, there has been more demand for policing and therefore there must be something, and I have consistently said that.
‘I’m basically famous now’: The innocent caption Jodie Chesney posted on the day she visited 10 Downing Street months before she was brutally stabbed in the back in a park in Romford
‘I agree that there is some link between violent crime on the streets obviously and police numbers, of course there is and everybody would see that.’
Asked if he thought the British military could help play a part in tackling knife crime, Mr Williamson told the Press Association the armed forces and Ministry of Defence ‘always stands ready to help any government department’.
Mr Williamson said they have had no requests for assistance but ‘would always be ready to respond’.
‘As we look at all of this, obviously our thoughts and prayers are with those family and friends of those who have lost someone,’ he said.
‘I know that the Home Secretary is looking very closely at how he can ensure that everything is done to tackle this problem at the moment.’
At a Cabinet meeting on the issue of knife crime on Tuesday, Mrs May said the killings of Jodie and Yousef last week were ‘absolutely appalling’ and told ministers her thoughts and sympathies were with the teenagers’ families.
Her official spokesman said she had tasked the Home Office with co-ordinating an urgent series of Cabinet-level ministerial meetings and engagements to accelerate the work Government is doing to support local councils and police.
Mrs May said the problem would require ‘a whole-of-Government effort, in conjunction with the police, the wider public sector and local communities’.
Meetings will take place ‘as soon as possible’ and were being treated as ‘a priority’ by the PM, said her spokesman.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said on Tuesday evening: ‘Since 2010, we’ve seen 21,000 police officers taken off our streets and 760 youth centres closed.
‘We’ve experienced the tearing of the social fabric of our communities.
‘The Prime Minister says there is no link between cuts to our police and soaring levels of violent crime.
‘She needs to listen to grieving families, police chiefs across the country and her own Home Secretary, and the communities decimated by cuts.
‘Young people shouldn’t pay the price for austerity with their lives.’
Jodie’s grandmother Debbie Chesney wrote on Facebook on Monday: ‘This is a nightmare as you can imagine. I just hope that they catch the boy who did it’
Police figures show violent crime rose by nearly a fifth in the year to September 2018, intensifying the debate over whether the increase is linked to falling officer numbers.
Chairwoman of the National Police Chiefs’ Council Sara Thornton, who will attend Wednesday’s meeting, and Labour former minister Vernon Coaker called for the issue to be treated as ‘a national emergency’.
Several MPs, including a former Home Office minister, have called for the Government to convene a meeting of the Cobra emergency committee.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid will today meet police chiefs amid claims of a national knife crime emergency.
Senior officers from seven of the forces most affected by violent crime – the Metropolitan Police, Merseyside, Greater Manchester, West Midlands, South Wales, South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire – will attend Wednesday’s meeting.
Mr Javid is reported to have demanded the Treasury for more money to tackle the issue.