Schoolboy skewered to death by mob 'baying for blood'

25th June 2007
Daily Mail

A boy of 16 was killed in a mob attack involving more than 40 teenagers who were "baying for blood" - after he was turned away from a schoolgirl's house party in South London

Ben Hitchcock: victim of gang attack

Ben Hitchcock was clubbed, hit with stones and kicked and punched. At one point he is said to have been impaled on railings.

He managed to free himself during the 10-minute running fight in London but was knifed in the back and left dying in the road.

One witness said youths went on the rampage when police turned up at the party, spilling out across the road in Beckenham, blocking traffic and swarming through a 24-hour supermarket.

The astonishing level of violence terrified residents who said the youths were "baying for blood".

The trouble centred on a party for Tashari Richards at her mother's terrace house nearby on Saturday night. More than 200 people had turned up and police were called to shut it down.

Student Ben and five friends had been turned away earlier and it is believed that as they made their way home they ran into members of two south London gangs known as the Penge Boys and Young Thugs.

Sheniz Yersever, a classroom assistant, described seeing about 40 gang members attacking the boy outside her house just before midnight. Mrs Yersever said: "They were wearing hoodies and had blue towels on their heads. They looked quite bizarre, almost like Arabic head-dresses.

Ben Hitchcock, pictured bottom left, with his school friends

"I could see them kicking and hitting this poor boy. He was white and they were all black. I saw them stab him but then he managed to get up. These boys were picking up stones from my garden and hurling them at him. They were kicking him and hitting him with clubs. It was absolutely horrifying.

"The boys all ran off towards Lewisham. I ran to where this boy was lying. He was covered in blood.

He had been stabbed in the back. There was a girl pressing a rolled up towel on his back. He was not making any response at all."

Minutes earlier the gang had beaten a 15-year-old black boy to the point of unconsciousness, one resident said.

Flowers at the scene of Ben's death

Witnesses said the gang members were furious because they had also been refused entry after trying to gatecrash the party.

They attacked Ben along nearby Southend Road not far from the party in Worsley Bridge Road.

Some reports said the six friends were ambushed on a bus back to Lewisham, where they had come from, and they were dragged off by the mob.

Karim Shakur, 16, a friend of Ben, said: "He was just walking home. They were totally outnumbered by a big gang of black boys aged between 14 and 18. These boys were all from Lewisham and had come to Bromley just to pick a fight.

"They chose the spot where they attacked because it lies exactly on the borders of Lewisham and Bromley. They were showing who is boss."

Karim added: "These boys are all influenced by hip-hop music and stories of LA gang violence. It has become a way of life for them."

He said Ben, from nearby Penge, whose street name was Swipe, was just "a normal" boy who was not a member of any gang and was not involved in crime.

Gang members are said to have worn hooded tops and had blue towels over their heads, to signify they were from Lewisham, known as the "Blue Borough" because of the colour of its council signs.

Ben's heartbroken mother, Lee Hitchcock, led the heartfelt tributes to him by saying she would miss him "more than anything in the world".

In a statement issued on her behalf by Scotland Yard she said: "My son was loved very much by his family and many friends. We will miss him terribly, more than anything in the world. Ben was the kindest, happiest and most loving boy that ever walked this earth.

"He was 16 and had just finished his exams at school. He had the rest of his life before him. I appeal to anyone who knows who killed my Ben to get in touch with the police. We must know the truth about what happened."

A heartrending film tribute to the slain teenager has been posted on video sharing website Youtube.

Images from YouTube mourning the death of Ben Hitchcock

Grief-stricken pals composed the six-minute clip from treasured snaps of the 16-year-old.

Referring to him by his gang-style nickname the mini-movie is dubbed "Penge Block RIP Swipe" and had been watched more than twenty times just minutes after it was added to the popular website.

Set to a soundtrack of "The Good Die Young" by the tragic lad's hip hop favourites D12, the film opens with images of a proud Ben on his last day at Kelsey Park secondary school, his school shirt daubed with signatures from pals.

The snap, showing Ben being embraced by black classmates, is presented with the caption: "Sadly missed by so many, rest in peace Ben, gone but not forgotten".

Pictures show Ben sporting scarves covering his face, and mucking around for the camera with pals in gangster-style poses.

The friend who composed the video, a 17-year-old who goes under the name T-Man, wrote: "RIP Swipe, you will be dearly missed."

Murder investigation

Police said today fourteen teenagers aged 13 to 16 were arrested following Ben's murder. One was a girl.

Speaking this afternoon at the scene of the murder, Detective Superintendent Simon Morgan said: "Inquiries have established the incident began when approximately six boys were barred from entering a party.

"Police were called and the group outside were asked to leave. Shortly afterwards, the party ended.

That group, including the victim, left the party and subsequently got into a full-blown fight with tragic results."

Mr Morgan added: "There is nothing to say it is premeditated, but a group of friends in Lewisham have come to a party and suffered some tragic consequences."

Houses on Southend Road sell for between 550,000 and 700,000. The area is less than one mile from the deprived estates of Catford and Lewisham.

Ben's headteacher at Kelsey Park Sports College, Brian Lloyd, said Ben finished his GCSEs a few weeks ago and was looking to go to college, possibly to learn a trade in construction. He said: "It is so sad when you see a young life wasted in such a senseless way."

Some of the youths were arrested at the scene and some later on. They were released on police bail and will reappear at police stations across south-east London on Wednesday.