Rob Knox and Jimmy Mizen families remember sons five years on from Sidcup and Lewisham murders
PUBLISHED: 09:20 09 May 2013 | UPDATED: 09:20 09 May 2013
Today would have been Jimmy Mizen's 21st birthday. But on May 10, 2008, he was mindlessly killed by Jake Fahri in the Three Cooks Bakery in Burnt Ash Hill, Lee.
Two weeks later in Sidcup, 18-year-old Harry Potter actor Rob Knox was murdered by Karl Bishop outside the Metro Café in Station Road.
Since the killings, the two victims’ families have joined forces to tackle the cause of street crime, establishing two foundations in their sons’ names.
Now, as Colin and Sally Knox and Barry and Margaret Mizen prepare to mark the five-year anniversaries of their children’s deaths, they say they’re convinced that the situation in south-east London has improved, with street crime figures showing a fall in incidents.
Barry, who owns the Heel Bar in Sidcup High Street, said: “I don’t think you’ll see the levels of street violence we saw in 2008 again.
“The deaths of youngsters like Jimmy and Rob served as a wake-up call. Before, a lot of violence had been gang-related, but here were two kids dying a matter of miles from each other, two weeks apart, who were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
“The person who killed our son had things going on in his own life which ended with him taking Jimmy’s life. This is something society needs to address.”
Colin, of Ingress Park, Greenhithe, says it is hard to quantify how much the drop in crime is down to their charity work, but he thinks young people still need to be educated about the dangers of carrying weapons. The two families were connected before the tragedies – both Jimmy and Rob were members of Sidcup Rugby Club – but their shared grief has drawn them closer together, as they try to stop other families going through the same nightmare.
They continue to be linked through their work with the Rob Knox and Jimmy Mizen foundations and both support Charlton Athletic Football Club’s Street Violence Ruins Lives (SVRL) campaign.
The families also attended a knife crime conference hosted by then prime minister Gordon Brown at Downing Street in 2009, where Colin called for a mandatory six-month prison sentence for anyone caught carrying a knife.
Sally, of Maidstone Road, Sidcup, says that while crime figures are down, the problems are still apparent.
She said: “A lot of youngsters carry knives thinking that it will protect them, but they couldn’t be more wrong.
“When I go into schools for SVRL I usually find at least 50 per cent of kids say they know someone who carries a knife, which is shocking.
“I implore them not to get involved. Rob did, and paid the ultimate price.”
While they have made sure their son’s life was not in vain, neither of Rob’s parents can bring themselves to forgive his murderer.
Colin said: “Don’t mention his name to me. He’s nondescript,” while Sally added: “I try not to think about him and put him out of my mind. I never want to meet him and I could never forgive him.”
Rather than look to the past, both families are concentrating on the future, and the anniversaries present an opportunity to celebrate the two teenagers’ lives.
Rob’s family and friends will meet at the Metro Bar because “that’s where we feel closest to him”.
And there will be a memorial service for Jimmy tonight, followed by 21 days of fundraising including a barbecue, a gig and the launch of Margaret’s book, Jimmy, a Legacy of Peace.
Barry said the Knox family will be one of many getting involved in the events.
He added: “Both of the boys’ deaths have had a massive impact on the community, but there’s still work to do.”
For more information on their charity work visit robknox.co.uk and jimmymizen.org.