14-year-old found stabbed in Enfield

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The Independent Online

A schoolboy sports enthusiast died in a pool of blood near a crowded playground after being stabbed in daylight by another youngster.

Leroy James, the youngest of 10 teenagers murdered in the capital this year, was left slumped against a park wall yesterday as young children played nearby.

Horrified witnesses described the youngster as "sweet" as they said Leroy's father was "in bits" as paramedics failed to revive him at the scene in Enfield, north London.

With two further teenage stabbings on Oxford Street - Britain's busiest shopping area - last night, Scotland Yard moved to dismiss fears that London was in the grip of a wave of gang violence.

Detective Chief Inspector Caroline Goode, the investigating officer, said: "There's certainly no evidence or any intelligence at this time that this is a gang-related murder."

Roxy Bagun, 19, who lives on the other side of the park, said she saw Leroy's father at the park yesterday evening.

She said: "His dad was in bits, crying and crying and crying. I just didn't know what to say to him."

Miss Bagun said Leroy was a "good lad" who used to play football and basketball with his friends in the park.

"He always used to come and play football," she said. "My friend saw it all. He told me how he saw Leroy lying there in a pool of blood."

She added: "He was a good lad. I never saw him get into any trouble. They were sweet boys. He just hung around with kids his own age. His friends are so sweet and innocent."

She said the killers have "got no fear any more", adding: "They had the guts to do it right in front of a police station."

Detectives said Leroy was in the park with his friends before when he was set upon and stabbed.

Launching a hunt for his attacker, Ms Goode said: "We know from what witnesses have told us so far that Leroy was in an altercation with at least one other boy. I'm completely open-minded as to the motive at this stage.

"Officers from the local borough arrived very, very quickly and took control of this crime scene, and did manage to speak to a number of people that were here.

"But we still need to talk to everybody that was present in the park yesterday.

"There were attempts to resuscitate Leroy here in the park but sadly those were unsuccessful, and the air ambulance played their part in trying to save Leroy's life."

Relatives are "absolutely destroyed with the grief at losing their son", she added.

"He was a 14-year-old young man who didn't deserve to lose his life.

"He had his whole life in front of him. A young man with hopes and aspirations, and that's been tragically cut short."

Ben Grant, 14, arrived at the park with a bouquet of flowers for Leroy, who was in the same class as him at school.

He said: "He was really funny and sporty. He loved his practical jokes. He was always there when I needed him."

Leroy, from Edmonton, north London, was the eighth teenager stabbed to death in the capital this year.

He was pronounced dead at the scene in Ponders End recreation ground after officers arrived at the scene at 5.30pm

Friends and schoolmates reacted with shock to the death as hundreds joined a Facebook page set up in his memory.

"Leroy you was like my little brother and i loved you with all my heart," wrote one friend.

"Im going to miss not seeing your face everyday and bussing bare jokes. I felt i could talk to you about anything and i will always remember the things you have done for me. I will never forget you and always love you."

Friends said they were planning a tribute to Leroy, who had a younger brother and sister, at Ryan's Park later.

Enfield Council's Cabinet member for community wellbeing, Christine Hamilton, said: "The death of any young person on our streets is a tragedy and our thoughts and sympathies are with the family at this terrible time."

A post-mortem examination was being carried out today at Haringey mortuary.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.