Father of two murdered after confronting youths

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The Independent Online

A father of two young children was stabbed to death by a gang of youths after he asked them to stop making a noise outside his home.

Steven Nyembo-Ya-Muteba, 40, told about a dozen teenagers to move away from the stairwell of a block of flats because they were keeping him awake. The youths left the low-rise flats in Hackney, east London, shortly after 10pm on Sunday night, but at least one returned and stabbed Mr Nyembo-Ya-Muteba.

The victim, a university maths student, was taken to a nearby hospital but died from his wounds. He leaves two daughters, aged five and six, and his wife, also a student, who was described as "devastated" by the killing.

Four teenagers aged between 15 and 17 have been arrested. The killing comes at a time of renewed concern about a culture of violence among young men. In August, Peter Woodhams, 22, was shot dead after he confronted youths near his home in Canning Town, east London. Two teenagers have been charged with his murder.

In the most recent incident, Mr Nyembo-Ya-Muteba, a British citizen who is believed to have come to the UK from Congo and was described as a committed Christian, had complained to the youths about their noise because he had to get up early the next morning.

Chief Superintendent Simon Pountain, the police commander for the Hackney area, said: "It is my understanding he was in his flat alone. They came into the communal area and were creating the disturbance. After Steven successfully ushered them out, that was when one or more came back into the foyer, the communal area, and attacked him.

"Just after 10pm police were called to reports of 10 to 12 youths attacking a man. Officers arrived to find the man with serious injuries, believed to be stab wounds."

Ch Supt Pountain added: "Steven did what any normal citizen would do in a situation like this if someone is causing a disturbance. I do not want any member of the public to put themselves in danger, but it's absolutely right that you can challenge young people causing a disturbance.

"Clearly, this is a tragic event which has left a wife and young family without a husband and father. We would like to assure you we are doing our utmost to ensure those responsible are brought to justice." Mr Nyembo-Ya-Muteba is believed to have lived in a first-floor flat at the housing association property with his family for about four years.

Stephen Morris, a neighbour, said: "He was such a nice man, very, very placid. He would never pick a fight or do anything to hurt anybody. He always used to call me dad and I used to call him son."

He added that before the killing "there was a bunch of kids sitting on the stairwell - well, when I say kids I mean about 18 years old - all smoking 'wacky baccy' like they always do around here."

A church friend of the family was reported as seeing Mr Nyembo-Ya-Muteba's widow yesterday. "She was just crying her eyes out. Crying and crying, she can't understand how or why this has happened," she said.