In a tracksuit and hoodie, Jay Hughes — who was also known as Jai Sewell — is with a friend. It’s 5pm and the two of them are just on a quick trip from Jay’s nearby home to buy food. They are not alone for long.
CCTV footage records the horrifying moment the friend realises something is seriously wrong — he panics and runs while Jay turns to see what the danger is.
He would have then seen the masked gang member come running at him. The man is carrying a huge knife and he lunges at Jay, plunging the knife into his chest and piercing his heart.
The attack lasted just a few seconds and Jay barely had time to do anything to defend himself. The teenager was rushed to a nearby hospital but his wounds were so severe he couldn’t be saved.
“He said he was going out to get some food and he never came back,” his aunt Rochelle Sewell told a local paper.
“He loved riding his mountain bike, was very bright and brilliant at art.”
The family was devastated.
“He was basically a young boy who played out on his bike and met up with friends. It was a normal day it seemed, but he never came back. We are heartbroken.”
No arrests have been made, but police believe Jay may have been stalked in a premeditated attack.
A local IT worker, Thomas Coffie, 23, told the Evening Standard he listened shocked to Jay’s last words.
“I was passing the takeaway and saw him staggering with a wound. There was a slash in his jacket. I took my shirt off to put in the wound. He kept saying, “Man’s gonna die, man’s gonna die.’
“Then he stopped talking and slumped down. I was covered in blood. A nurse who was (in a) passing car (stopped) to help. We did our best. It’s terrible.”
Jay’s family insist he wasn’t involved with gangs; that he had a “sweet nature” and wanted to be a cartoonist.
Instead, his name is added to a grim tally that is growing worse as each week passes.
He was one of five people killed in a stabbing frenzy in London last week which saw the British capital’s murder toll to reach 118. There were 116 for the whole of last year.
Among the latest victims were a 16 and 17-year-old, both broad daylight attacks and one occurring outside a busy tube station. A sixth attack saw a man in his early 20s fighting for his life after being stabbed outside a north London coffee shop.
The city has already seen its murder rate overtake New York City, but the knife violence isn’t being contained to London. There have been more than 250 fatal stabbings across the UK this year — more than the last two years combined — and comes as police and politicians try to stem the bloodshed. And the growing public panic.
NINE-YEAR-OLDS WITH KNIVES
Britain’s Home Secretary Sajid Javid has given his clearest indication yet that he will boost police numbers. They have fallen by a staggering 20,000 officers and police funding by 19 per cent since 2010.
While he maintained police funding had begun to rise again, Mr Javid conceded: “I’m the first to admit we need to take a fresh look at that and make sure police — and not just in London, but across the country — have the resources that they need.”
But Mr Javid took issue with a claim by London’s left wing Mayor Sadiq Khan who this week said the crisis would take 10 years to overcome.
“We don’t have 10 years, we don’t have 10 months. There needs to be immediate action.”
Mr Khan defended his handling of the crisis during a BBC interview yesterday morning.
“We are doing a number of things in London to try and keep Londoners safe. We have got a violent crime taskforce.
“Police officers, by the way, overstretched and under-resourced, are cancelling rest days and cancelling leave to make sure they are working around the clock to keep our city safe.”
He was challenged by BBC broadcaster Louise Minchin about his “role” and leadership when there were young people “carrying knives on the streets of London because they don’t feel safe”.
Mr Khan insisted he was leading “from the front”.
“There are nine-year-olds who think the way to keep themselves safe is to carry a knife or join a criminal gang. That’s what is really important to realise — the police by themselves can’t grapple with this … We can identify those families for which we think young people may think it is OK to carry a knife.”
Mr Khan has established a Violence Reduction Unit that he hopes will be as successful as one used in Glasgow.
They saw in Scotland what we’re seeing in London which is children in primary school thinking not only is it OK to carry a knife, but it gives them a sense of belonging, joining a criminal gang, it makes them feel safer.
“We need to use all resources at our disposal to address this horror.”
HOW 11-YEAR-OLDS ARE PROTECTING THEMSELVES
Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick told media this week 30 teenagers a month in London where being stabbed. The shocking figure was only matched with the grim milestone of this week’s passing of the 2017 murder tally.
The vast majority of London homicides were stabbings and an alarming number were of young people.
A third of the cases involved victims aged 16 to 24, and of those, 20 were teenagers.
Among the victims aged 16 to 24, 30 were stabbed, nine were shot, two died in attacks involving a knife and a gun, and one died in a fall.
For the teenagers aged 15 to 19, six were shot and 14 were stabbed.
They are troubling figures — and those most at risk are taking extraordinary steps to keep themselves safe.
Teenagers in the most affected areas are wearing stab-prof vests and one clothing company has even created hoodies that are said to be “slash proof”.
Others are taking more drastic steps.
A leading trauma surgeon has warned children as young as 11 are falling victim to stabbings because they are carrying knives as they fear police can’t protect them.
Dr Duncan Bew said the stabbings was spreading like a disease. Victims were now also appearing in emergency rooms with multiple wounds due to the increased violent nature of the attacks.
“We see violence acting like a disease, with clusters of transmission and spread.”
A study of stab victims aged under 25, published in the British Medical Journal, found 10 per cent were younger than 16 and the attacks spiked immediately after the school day ended.
The study recommended staggering school finishing times in problem areas and increased patrols of police where schoolkids gathered.
Whatever the solution, Londoners will be hoping one is found before any more lives are lost.
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