'What is a boy doing carrying a knife like that at 8.30am? Society has broken down': Father of murdered 10-year-old Damilola Taylor declares 'there is something very wrong' after girl, 15, was stabbed to death on streets of Croydon

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  • A 15-year-old girl was allegedly knifed by a teenage boy in Croydon yesterday
  • Father of Damilola Taylor, who was killed in 2000, says ‘society has broken down’

The father of stabbing victim Damilola Taylor declared ‘society has broken down’ after a 15-year-old girl was allegedly murdered on the streets of Croydon by a jilted schoolboy.

Richard Taylor, whose son Damilola was knifed to death in Peckham in 2000 aged just 10, told The Sun: ‘What is a boy doing carrying a knife like that at 8.30am?

‘There is something very wrong with a society when a girl of 15 is stabbed to death on her way to school.

‘Society has broken down,’ he said. 

The victim, who was a pupil at Old Palace of John Whitgift School in Croydon, was last night named locally as Eliyanna. 

She was stabbed at 8.30am yesterday less than a mile away from the school gates and left to die in the street as the suspect fled the scene. 

Damilola Taylor, ten, was fatally stabbed in the thigh in Peckham, southwest London, in November 2000 while walking home from the library after school

Damilola Taylor, ten, was fatally stabbed in the thigh in Peckham, southwest London, in November 2000 while walking home from the library after school

Damilola's father Richard Taylor (pictured) said 'society has broken down' after news broke that a 15-year-old girl had been fatally stabbed in Croydon

Damilola’s father Richard Taylor (pictured) said ‘society has broken down’ after news broke that a 15-year-old girl had been fatally stabbed in Croydon

The victim, who as a pupil at Old Palace of John Whitgift School in Croydon, was last night named locally as Eliyanna. She was stabbed at 8.30 am - less than a mile away from the school gates

The victim, who as a pupil at Old Palace of John Whitgift School in Croydon, was last night named locally as Eliyanna. She was stabbed at 8.30 am – less than a mile away from the school gates

In Croydon, the schoolgirl's distraught friends and family were yesterday said to be reeling from the tragedy

In Croydon, the schoolgirl’s distraught friends and family were yesterday said to be reeling from the tragedy

Police forensic officers remove evidence at the scene of yesterday's fatal stabbing

Police forensic officers remove evidence at the scene of yesterday’s fatal stabbing

The death of Damilola in 2000 at the hands of 13-year-old Ricky Preddie and his brother Danny, 12, shocked the nation.

Who was Damilola Taylor? The schoolboy who moved to Britain for a better life 

Ten-year-old Damilola Taylor had moved to Britain from Nigeria a few months before he was jabbed in the thigh with a broken beer bottle by a gang of youths as he walked home from the local library after school.

The youngster was found bleeding to death in a stairwell near his home in Peckham, south London, in November 2000, where local workmen tried to save his life.

It took six years and three trials to identify and convict the killers. Danny and Ricky Preddie, members of the Young Peckham Boys gang, were found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to eight years at the trial at the Old Bailey in August 2006.

Danny was released from prison early in September 2011 after serving five years of his sentence.

Ricky Preddie was first released in September 2010, but recalled to custody in March 2011 after returning to Peckham from his west London bail hostel in breach of his licence conditions.

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Both brothers were jailed eight years for manslaughter in 2006.

In Croydon, the schoolgirl’s distraught friends and family were yesterday said to be reeling from the tragedy. 

It was previously claimed that the girl had been attacked after she ‘refused to go out’ with the boy and ‘rejected his offers of flowers’, but it witnesses have now said he was in fact trying to speak with her friend.

Community worker James Watkins said: ‘I spoke to the family this morning. They’re devastated and I think more importantly are in shock. I don’t think it’s real to them yet. Unfortunately the family were not able to arrive on time.’

The bus driver and a passenger desperately tried to save the teenager’s life but she died at the scene at 9.21am. Officers arrested a 17-year-old boy in nearby New Addington at 9.45am.  

Those who knew Eliyanna said she had a bright future ahead of her, on track to pass all of her GCSES later in the school year.

Anthony King, chair of the My Ends organisation which works with the Met Police in Croydon said: ‘The victim was absolutely incredible with a very bright future. A very comedic young lady. 

‘The word I think that was used was jovial. She was on track to pass all of her GCSEs. She was very articulate.’

Mr Watkins, who works at the youth prevention and intervention programmes at Mainz World, added: ‘It’s disgusting, when we look at these children being killed that are from the borough it hurts you in the heart. These could be our kids, it’s devastating.’

Amongst those who witnessed the stabbing were two girls, said to be the victims best friends.

Mr King added: ‘Two 15 year old girls were absolutely devastated by witnessing their very close friend being stabbed. They’re still being interviewed by police.’

Michael Fyffe, who witnessed the attack, told Sky News: ‘I turned around and could see that someone was trying to resuscitate her.

Police at the scene of the fatal stabbing behind the Whitgift Shopping Centre

Police at the scene of the fatal stabbing behind the Whitgift Shopping Centre

The victim, who as a pupil at Old Palace of John Whitgift School in Croydon, was last night named locally as Eliyanna

The victim, who as a pupil at Old Palace of John Whitgift School in Croydon, was last night named locally as Eliyanna

A forensic investigator puts flowers into a container at the scene near the Whitgift shopping centre in Croydon

A forensic investigator puts flowers into a container at the scene near the Whitgift shopping centre in Croydon

Flowers laid by wellwishers at the scene of a fatal stabbing

Flowers laid by wellwishers at the scene of a fatal stabbing

‘There were loads of people who had just come off the bus and then I think two of the girl’s friends came out and they were trying to rush over towards the body.

‘So myself and a few of the other people tried to hold her back and just say, “Look let them try and help your friend’s” and she was just screaming, “Is my friend dead? She’s my best friend”.’

Yesterday, forensic officers were seen removing a bunch of roses and a handwritten love note from the scene. Metropolitan Police Chief Superintendent Andy Brittain said police are not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident. 

Floral tributes and card laid at the scene in Croydon, south London

Floral tributes and card laid at the scene in Croydon, south London

Witnesses said the boy had tried to give the girl flowers but she replied that she 'didn't want to go out with him anymore'

Witnesses said the boy had tried to give the girl flowers but she replied that she ‘didn’t want to go out with him anymore’ 

A forensic officer picks up the bunch of flowers from the scene of the fatal stabbing on Wellesley Road

A forensic officer picks up the bunch of flowers from the scene of the fatal stabbing on Wellesley Road

Yesterday, forensics officers were seen removing a handwritten love note from the scene

Yesterday, forensics officers were seen removing a handwritten love note from the scene

Forensic officers walk past the scene, which features several privacy screens

Forensic officers walk past the scene, which features several privacy screens 

Old Palace of John Whitgift School is a selective independent day school for girls aged three to 18. It is consistently ranked as one the best in London and is a sister school to Whitgift School for Boys. It is not yet clear which school the boy attended.

One witness who asked not to be identified, said: ‘There were about seven or eight children who got off a bus which stopped outside the Whitgift Centre.

‘There was a young girl and young boy arguing. He had flowers with him and they were arguing about the girl breaking up with him yesterday.’

Floral tributes to the young girl and the family began to build up this evening.

A note attached to some flowers read: ‘RIP, beautiful, Forever Young taken too soon. 

‘Thoughts and prayers are with your family and friends. God bless.’

Someone else on the same note had added: ‘Sorry, we live in this crazy world, this makes no sense. Fly high up there, my mummy will look after you.’

Another heartfelt note read: ‘RIP little princess, so sad your life is taken away at your prime. You have touched my soul.’

Speaking to journalists at the scene, Metropolitan Police Chief Superintendent Andy Britain said officers were not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident. 

Speaking to journalists this afternoon, Chief Superintendent Brittain said officers arrived within two minutes of being called and gave the suspect's age as 17

Speaking to journalists this afternoon, Chief Superintendent Brittain said officers arrived within two minutes of being called and gave the suspect’s age as 17

‘This is every parent’s worst nightmare, and I know the officers who responded this morning, along with our emergency service colleagues, are devastated at the victim’s death,’ he said. 

‘This is an emotion I share and I know people across Croydon will be feeling the same.

‘The victim’s family has been informed and our thoughts are with them at what must be an incredibly difficult time.

‘We carried out urgent inquiries to find the suspect and within 75 minutes of the incident happening a 17-year-old boy was arrested in New Addington. He remains in custody and will be questioned by detectives.

‘We remain in the early stages of our investigation, however based on what we know so far we believe that we are not looking for anyone else in connection with this offence.

‘From our initial inquiries, we believe the suspect may have known the victim. However, we’re not in a position to release the victim’s identity at this time.’

A spokesman for the Old Palace of John Whitgift School  said: ‘We are deeply shocked by the senseless and tragic death of our much-loved and valued friend and pupil.

Privacy screens have been set up around the scene of the stabbing in Croydon, south London

Privacy screens have been set up around the scene of the stabbing in Croydon, south London  

The number 60 bus remains behind the police cordon, where forensics officers are carrying out inquiries

The number 60 bus remains behind the police cordon, where forensics officers are carrying out inquiries 

The location of the stabbing is shown in the map above. The 60 route bus was heading towards Streatham station

The location of the stabbing is shown in the map above. The 60 route bus was heading towards Streatham station

Yesterday, the Met said officers were on the scene of the stabbing within two minutes

Yesterday, the Met said officers were on the scene of the stabbing within two minutes  

‘It will take some time for the Old Palace community to come to terms with this terrible news, and we will offer support to our pupils as we try to do so.

‘Above all, we send our love and deepest sympathies to the girl’s family at this unimaginably distressing time.

Chevanice Thomas, 28, who works on the nearby Landsdown Building site, said her friend saw a group of schoolchildren and adults running from the scene immediately after the stabbing at around 8.30am this morning.

‘My friend said there was people with their children running everywhere,’ she said. ‘The only person who stayed was the bus driver. A lot of people got out their vehicles and started running.

‘My friend said they were off the bus, talking, the boy and the girl. The boy gave her flowers, but she didn’t want anything to do with him. Then he got violent and stabbed her. My friend said the knife was like a sword.’

This afternoon, a white tent could be seen within a police cordon next to the double-decker bus. 

A mother-of-two, who asked to be named only as Bridget, said: ‘I was on the bus before and came off and walked back down, I saw them resuscitating her.

‘The driver was holding her, and a lady. The emergency services were already here when I walked back.’

A forensic investigator onboard the bus where the argument is believed to have started

A forensic investigator onboard the bus where the argument is believed to have started 

Locals say they saw a group of schoolchildren getting off the No 60 bus outside the Whitgift Centre

Locals say they saw a group of schoolchildren getting off the No 60 bus outside the Whitgift Centre

Privacy screens and a tent outside the Whitgift centre in Croydon while a bus sits beside the pavement nearby

Privacy screens and a tent outside the Whitgift centre in Croydon while a bus sits beside the pavement nearby

She said two other schoolgirls, believed to be the victim’s friends, were trying to get back through the police cordon but were held back.

Victor Asare was on a bus on the way home from a night shift as a security worker when he said he saw a boy in a black blazer stab a girl in the neck with a knife which was ‘black, thin and about a foot long’.

The 50-year-old said: ‘The boy wore a black blazer, the girl wore green. It looked like the girl didn’t want the boy to come closer.’

He then described the boy stabbing the girl in the neck with a black knife.

‘A lot of people came, everyone came off the bus,’ he said. ‘[The boy] ran away. Everybody was crying and screaming. The girl was on the floor.

‘We tried to catch him and a lot of people tried to save the girl. I was so shocked, I was shaken. It’s somebody’s daughter.

‘I finished work but couldn’t sleep, so came back, I wanted to see if the girl was OK.’

Croydon MP Sarah Jones attended the police press conference alongside Croydon mayor Jason Perry.

Ms Jones said: ‘I’m heartbroken that a child in my town has been killed on her way to school and I cannot imagine the grief that her family will be going through at this time.

‘I want to thank the police and the ambulance services for trying so hard to save her life. They run into danger and I know they will be suffering.

‘I want to repeat the request from the police that if anybody has any information please do get in touch.

‘We all hold our children close and our community will take time to grieve… we are just thinking of this young girl and her family. I’m so sorry.’

Transport for London (TfL) has diverted its 60, 407, and 455 routes due to the incident

Transport for London (TfL) has diverted its 60, 407, and 455 routes due to the incident 

Police cars surrounded the parked bus in Croydon shortly after the attack

Police cars surrounded the parked bus in Croydon shortly after the attack  

Mr Perry added: ‘We all personally feel devastated by the events that have happened here in Croydon this morning and the tragic loss of such a young life.

‘The community are feeling that hurt right now and we will do everything we can to support the community through such a very difficult time.’ 

Met Police commissioner Sir Mark Rowley said: ‘The senseless murder of a 15-year-old girl on her way to school is impossible to comprehend.

‘It was moving and humbling to meet many members of the exceptional Croydon community who have come together in support of a family now dealing with the most unimaginable grief.

‘The commitment of so many from the local community is inspiring. A powerful partnership between charitable groups, faith and community leaders, the local authority, the wider public and our officers has delivered so much work across the borough. They have collectively saved many lives from knife crime. 

‘Many are shocked and hurting. They care deeply and it’s this passion which has made Croydon a safer place and will continue to in the future.

‘I spoke to officers who, with members of the public, were among the first on scene with colleagues trying to save this young girl’s life and have since supported her family and friends. Through diligent work by them all an early arrest was made and our major crime team now continue to investigate the events leading up to this awful attack.’

London Mayor Sadiq Khan told Greatest Hits Radio London: ‘My thoughts and prayers are with the bereaved family of the 15-year-old child who has been stabbed in Croydon. 

‘I’ve been in touch with the commissioner [Sir Mark Rowley] and we are in touch with the police. 

‘It’s heartbreaking. An arrest has been made of another teenager in relation to this matter.

‘There were other people present and I’d encourage them to contact the police. If they are worried about the anonymity they can ring Crimestoppers.

‘It’s really important people come forward and support the police to make sure justice occurs for this poor girl’s family.’

Video and pictures posted on social media showed huge police presence and two white privacy screens surrounding the scene. 

A number of Scotland Yard officers can be seen standing behind a cordon, with one holding up a towel while a paramedic carrying a medic bag crouches to the ground.

Beldine Kutima, a receptionist at a nearby four-star hotel, told The Evening Standard: ‘One of our duty managers went to get the bus but she came back in total shock and was crying heavily.

‘She ran back screaming and grabbed towels from the back room and ran back out there.’

An estate agent who works near the scene where the girl was stabbed complained Croydon had seen an upsurge in violence. 

Leigh Thomas, 41, said: ‘I came out of my office and there were two ambulances right across the road and about 12 police cars.’

He added: ‘Croydon has gone to the dogs recently. The other side of the shopping centre is a war zone.

‘There’s drug dealing, fights, there was another stabbing recently. I grew up around here, it’s not what it used to be.’

Home Office minister Chris Philp posted on X: ‘Devastating news that a 15-year-old girl was fatally stabbed in Croydon town centre and died soon afterwards on the scene, despite the best efforts of the emergency services.

‘Our hearts go out to her family who must be in deep shock at their terrible loss.

‘Nothing can be worse for a parent than losing a child.

‘An arrest was made shortly afterwards of a teenager believed to be known to the victim.

‘We must redouble our efforts to take all knives off the streets of London, using every means available.’

Transport for London (TfL) has diverted its 60, 407, and 455 routes due to the incident. 

Wellesley Road has been closed northbound from Whitgift Centre to St Michael’s Road. 







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