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Published: 3 July 2008

Ben Kinsella, 16, who was stabbed to death

THE murder of teenager Ben Kinsella has been likened to a recurring nightmare by a mother whose son was stabbed to death just yards from the scene of the latest tragedy.
In a series of frank interviews with the New Journal, parents of teens who have been killed on the streets have told of the pain of watching another family go through the same grief – and their difficulty in getting the authorities to listen to their concerns.
In each case, relatives hoped the loss of their loved ones might be enough to highlight the danger of carrying weapons.
But they have ended up feeling helpless to change things for the better with protests and petitions, delivered as high as Downing Street, failing to stop a chilling spate of murders.
Ben, 16, died early on Sunday, hours after being stabbed in York Way, which splits the boroughs of Camden and Islington.
A massive shrine of tributes at the scene, which has grown bigger each day, has similarities to the mountain of flowers left at the spot where Tommy Winston was stabbed to death by an old school friend in Brecknock Road, just two minutes’ walk away and almost within sight of where Ben was attacked.
Two and half years on from losing Tommy, Dee Roberts, his mother, told the New Journal: “It is too late for me. And now it is too late for Ben Kinsella’s family. Their lives have been ruined like mine. Every day I wake up I am reminded of what happened to Tommy. His killer will have a life again when he comes out of prison but my life sentence is forever. There needs to be a stronger deterrent.”
Like Ben, Tommy was well-known and popular, and his death left a whole community in shock. Ms Roberts added: “The older generation are completely at a loss as to what’s going on. People do not understand the fallout, the effect it has on the family. I have attended parent groups, been on marches, signed petitions that have been delivered to Downing Street. Nothing has been done. Nothing has changed.”
Councillors in both Camden and Islington were this week proposing ways they might be able to intervene – and an inquiry into youth crime in some form is almost certain to take place at the Town Hall. Ms Roberts believes tough action is needed.
She said: “In my opinion, if you get caught with a knife you should get five years – but they won’t because the prisons are full.”
Similar sentiments were echoed by Ben’s friends, as they marched through Islington on Tuesday.
The Holloway School pupil’s death comes soon after the murder of 17-year-old Sharma’arke Hassan, from Camden Town, who died after being shot in the head near the Lock. His sister Ifrah Hassan, 15, said: “It’s only been a month since my brother died and I think the violence is just going to continue unless the police take a different approach to it.
“The media coverage has been different with Ben but the police have to do something different from what they’re doing for everyone because what they’re doing now is not working.
“Everyone is fearing for their own safety.”
Lorraine Dinnegan, whose son Martin, 14, died after being stabbed in nearby Holloway last June, said: “You just get this heart-wrenching feeling inside. It brings it all back. It should be that you go straight to jail if you have a knife. It’s been in the headlines over the past year so it’s not for want of being educated. The government, the police have done so much advertising but the advertising and education doesn’t seem to be working.”
She added: “There won’t be an end unless the government and the Mayor comes up with something different.”
Martin’s parents have already been to Downing Street to join an anti-knife campaign and have tried to highlight the problem.
Now in their footsteps follow Ben Kinsella’s family, who have pledged to join the campaign to persuade teenagers who carry knives to surrender them.
His sister Brooke Kinsella, a former EastEnders actress, said: “Our hearts go out to every family who has also suffered this terrible tragedy – and now it is truly time to put an end to this. Please, please let us learn from Ben and every other child that has been stolen from us.”

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