Erith mum seeks closure as 10-year anniversary of daughter’s death approaches

PUBLISHED: 17:45 21 February 2013 | UPDATED: 17:45 21 February 2013

Dean and Janet Robey with items which remind them of Gemma. Pic by Keith Larby

Dean and Janet Robey with items which remind them of Gemma. Pic by Keith Larby


Gemma Rolfe was just nine when she penned a poem which belied her young years about the value of human life and of sorrow and pain.

Gemma Rolfe and her mum Janet RobeyGemma Rolfe and her mum Janet Robey

It described a man who kills somebody while on a rampage and “acting as a hooligan, thinking it’s fun”.

It seems poignant now but nobody could have predicted how much sadness would befall Gemma’s family just three years later when she was snatched away from them.

She was a passenger in her stepdad Dean Robey’s car when it was struck by a stolen van while on her way to Guides.

Gemma was cut free from the wreckage but died at the scene. Before the emergency services arrived the driver fled the accident and has never been caught.

May 19 will mark the 10-year anniversary of Gemma’s death. Her mother Janet Robey has never stopped campaigning to find out the truth and hopes the upcoming milestone will serve as a reminder or prick the conscience of someone who might know more than they are letting on.

She said she needs to find out who is responsible to find closure.

“The last thing she said to me was goodbye,” she recalls. “It was very matter-of-fact and I remember it like it was yesterday because I replay it every day in my head.

“She won’t be the first kid to be killed in a hit-and-run and she won’t be the last but no one has ever been brought to justice and this makes it very difficult to move on.

“There are whispers in the community about who the culprits are but no one has come forward. It was around 7pm in May so someone must know something.

“Maybe people are too scared or maybe someone who knows something has their own kids now and can understand what my family is going through.”

Janet remembers Gemma, who went to Erith School and would have been 22 on March 14, as a “happy, bubbly and intelligent girl who had her whole life ahead of her”.

Janet, 46, moved six months after Gemma died because staying at their Cornwallis Close house was too difficult.

On the anniversary of her death every year Janet, who still lives in Erith, and her family visit the scene of the crash near the junction of Canada Road in Slade Green, to remember her.

“I go to make my point for Gemma but as time has passed the number of other people has dwindled,” she says sadly. “But this year the date falls on a Sunday so I’m hoping there will be a big turnout – enough to close the road if we have to.

“I know kids change when they get to their teenage years, but Gemma never got to experience that.”

To raise awareness, Kelly Dunkley, the girlfriend of Gemma’s brother Kye, has set up a Twitter campaign with the hashtag #JusticeForGemma.

It has received retweets from actresses Patsy Palmer and Daniella Westbrook.

Kelly and Kye have their own 14-month-old daughter, who they named Gemma.

Janet said: “At first it was difficult, getting used to having a granddaughter called Gemma – but you realise they’re different people.

“It was a lovely thing for them to do and it makes me very proud.

“Social media is another way to get the word out. We’re trying to make sure Gemma’s face is never forgotten.”

Anyone with any information should contact Bexley Police on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

More details about the campaign are available at, @VWKel on Twitter or

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