Welling stabbing murder: Killing of boy, 16, is ‘among worst’

PUBLISHED: 13:47 03 July 2011

Yemurai Kanyangarara, 16, who was stabbed to death in Welling, south-east London

Yemurai Kanyangarara, 16, who was stabbed to death in Welling, south-east London

The murder of a teenage boy stabbed to death in a south-east London street is “about as bad as it gets”, a senior detective said.

The killing of Yemurai Kanyangarara was among the worst he had investigated in 25 years, said Detective Chief Inspector Mark Dunne.

Onlookers have described blood “pouring” out of the 16-year-old’s neck moments after he was attacked on Friday.

One witness said he watched the boy’s life “slip away” as he lay on the pavement on Upper Wickham Lane in Welling. The victim came from nearby Belvedere.

DCI Dunne told reporters: “You’ve got someone 16-years-old, a schoolboy, being stabbed in broad daylight in a busy street in front of many shoppers out enjoying the afternoon, it’s about as bad as it gets.

“It’s among the very worst I’ve investigated in 25 years, the sheer brutality against a defenceless schoolboy.”

The officer told how the victim, who was brought to Britain from Zimbabwe when he was a toddler, stepped off a 96 bus with a friend and was attacked, probably within a matter of seconds.

Three boys who had been in a group of five or six who had got off another 96 at an earlier stop a few minutes before had walked on to the stop where Yemurai and his friend got off their bus.

Yemurai and his friend had been in a group of four but the other two got off the bus shortly before.

“The three boys off the first bus approached them, and one has taken a weapon out of his clothing and stabbed the victim just once in the neck. This has caused catastrophic injuries, it seems he has died very quickly after that.”

DCI Dunne was unable to confirm whether the weapon was a knife.

Police so far have no clear motive for the attack, but DCI Dunne said it was suspected that the people who attacked Yemurai knew him.

“It would be wrong to suggest this was a random attack, our belief is that they were known to each other, but we don’t know how.”

The victim was a pupil at St Columba’s Catholic Boys’ School in Bexleyheath, but DCI Dunne said he was dismissing suggestions of a rift between that school and another.

The detective said Yemurai had finished his GCSEs recently.

Although a pupil at St Columba’s, he had been living with his father Kelton Kanyangarara in Leicester since January, and had returned to his mother Sharon Jambawo, a hospital worker, in south-east London to do his exams.

He had not been at school on Friday when he was attacked, at about 5pm.

A male arrested in connection with the investigation has been released without further action.

The school’s headteacher, Nigel Fisher, said: “We are devastated and shocked by Yemurai’s death, we have no experience of this ever in school, to my knowledge.

“He was a very popular and very well-known student, a kind, gentle lad, hard working, and just finished his GCSEs.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time.

“In terms of the school, we will be open as normal on Monday, and clergy and counsellors will be available to care for the students and the staff who are upset by this.

“There will be assemblies for the different years, with special prayers being said.

“All we know is that a member of our community has been tragically killed, and all we can do now is support the students and the family.”

Sam Pope, 19, who works at Bartletts florist next door to the Superdrug near the scene of the attack, told how she discovered the teenager bleeding to death on the street and saw three boys fleeing.

“I had just gone outside for a cigarette when I saw blood on the ground,” she said.

“It was not a very nice scene. The boy was standing up and I saw blood absolutely pouring out of his neck.”

She helped him down to the floor and called emergency services.

While waiting for them to arrive, her colleague flagged down an ambulance, she said.

“The ambulance was on its way to hospital but it stopped and the paramedics helped him,” she said.

But it was too late to save the boy.

“He was silent and had his eyes open,” she said. “It all happened so quickly.”

Angela Read, 48, who owns the florist and joined Ms Pope at the scene, described the futile efforts she and other local shop workers made to save the teenager’s life.

“Someone from inside Superdrug threw out kitchen towels and a woman from Loose Linen (a shop across the road) brought out some towels,” she said.

“We tried to suppress the bleeding but if you had been a top professional you wouldn’t have saved the lad.

“There was blood all over the pavement and we watched his life slip away in front of us.”

David Walker, 83, said a bike and crash helmet lay on the ground within the area being guarded by police.

“We were horrified,” he said.

“Nobody could say it’s quiet around here but nothing like this has happened here before.”

Anyone who witnessed the incident or has information that might assist police should call the incident room at Lewisham police station on 020 8721 4906, or, if wishing to remain anonymous, Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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