Croydon police are now handling a murder inquiry, from a separate and unconnected incident in Thornton Heath last week, as well as the investigation into the brutal attack on a teenaged refugee in Shrublands on Friday night.
Police have made a total of 16 arrests in connection with the violent assault on the 17-year-old Kurdish Iranian asylum seeker, who has been named as Reker Ahmed.
But they are now also dealing with a parallel murder inquiry, following the death yesterday of a 23-year-old South Norwood man, Bjorn Brown, after he was victim of a knife attack in on Bensham Lane last Wednesday, March 29.
A Scotland Yard statement says: “At this early stage it is believed that the assault occurred in Kelling Gardens at the junction with Bensham Lane.
“The victim left the scene on his bicycle but collapsed. A member of the public driving past in Bensham Lane came to his aid and attempted to transport him to hospital. The driver then flagged down an ambulance which took the victim to a south London hospital.
“The victim was transferred to another south London hospital where he died in the early hours of Monday, April 3.”
Detectives from the Met’s Homicide and Major Crime Command (HMCC) have been called in. They believe the victim was attacked by two men, who then ran along Bensham Lane towards Cameron Road.
The first suspect is described as a black man, with a heavy build and approximately 5ft 6in tall. He was wearing a dark “puffa” style jacket and dark trousers. The second suspect is described as a black man, with a slim or average build and approximately 5ft 5in tall. He was also wearing a dark “puffa” style jacket and dark trousers.
Officers would also like to speak to anyone who has relevant information that may assist the investigation or witnessed anything suspicious.
“I am saddened to hear that our borough has suffered another tragic incident with the death of a young man stabbed in Thornton Heath last week, and my thoughts are with his family,” said Chief Superintendent Jeff Boothe, Croydon’s borough commander.
“The Homicide and Major Crime Command are leading that investigation now and we are supporting them. I would urge anyone in our communities who witnessed this incident or who has any information about it to contact the incident room.
“This is another violent incident impacting on our communities, so close to the recent attack in Shrublands, but there is nothing to link the two events.
“I am continuing to work to keep officers visible in the affected communities, and ask that anyone concerned with recent events to talk to officers. It is only together that we can tackle those who seek to be involved in violent offending.”
The first five of those accused of being involved in the attack on the schoolboy asylum seeker appeared in court in Croydon yesterday.
In the 30-minute hearing before Deputy District Judge Richard Hawgood, the court was told by the police that Reker Ahmed was “lucky to be alive”.
They said that he had been subjected to a “prolonged, violent assault”, which included being kicked and having his head stamped on.
The child refugee had to be put into a coma with a fractured spine, fractured eye socket and bleeding on the brain. His two asylum seeker friends were also chased by the group, who stole Ahmed’s watch and two gold chains after beating him, it was alleged.
The six others who have been charged today in connection with the investigation have been named as 19-year-old Liam Neylen, from Croydon (charged with violent disorder); Ben Harman, 20, from Croydon (violent disorder, racially aggravated grievous bodily harm and dangerous driving); a 15-year-old boy from the Croydon area (violent disorder); a 17-year-old boy from the Croydon area (violent disorder and racially aggravated GBH); Ellie Leite, 19, from Shrublands (violent disorder); and James Neves, 22, of no fixed address (violent disorder).
All six were to appear at Croydon Magistrates’ Court today, alongside two who were charged yesterday: a 17-year-old girl from the Croydon area (violent disorder); and Kyran Evans, 23, from Shrublands (violent disorder).
Four of the five who appeared in court yesterday have been released on bail until May 2, although George Walder, who was charged with violent disorder and racially aggravated GBH, has been remanded in custody.
An 18-year-old man who was arrested yesterday has been released and will have no further action taken against him.
In a press conference given at the scene of the attack, Detective Superintendent Jane Corrigan maintained the police line that this had been a hate crime when she said: “This is a horrendous attack which is racially motivated. He is lucky not to have lost his life.
“This was the most extreme type of attack, where you have individuals stamping on a person’s head – there is no provocation for that. This was an unprovoked attack… They specifically asked if they were asylum seekers and when they confirmed they were, they were set upon by this group that then grew.
“He’s going to be scarred for life as a result of the beating he sustained… I’ve not seen an attack of this nature for very long time, and it is really disturbing.”
- Anyone who witnessed the stabbing or has any information is asked to contact the incident room on 0208 721 4961 or anonymously on Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111
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