First fatality of the riots was decorator with a baby girl
On a quiet terraced street yesterday, tucked away from the scene of destruction in nearby Brixton, the picture of a young man stared from a window surrounded by floral tributes – the first victim of the riots that engulfed the country.
Trevor Ellis, 26, was a doting father-of-four, a painter-decorator who was just about to move into a new flat with his three-month-old baby girl. Passionate about music, his dream was to build a community recording studio to help other youngsters fulfil their ambitions.
But on Monday night, as the mayhem spread through the capital, he was pursued through the streets of Croydon and gunned down.
His elder sister, Aisha Spence, 42, received a call to say her brother was injured and gathered along with his many siblings, mother, grandparents, aunts and uncles at St George's Hospital, in Tooting, where they learned he had been shot in the head and leg.
"He was in intensive care all night. The following morning, the doctors told us they didn't think he would make it. He was just gone, taken from us. We are all completely devastated."
His three-year-old son, the oldest of two boys and two girls, could not understand. "When they took the tubes out and we saw him, his son kept saying daddy's not killed any more. Daddy's just sleeping. It was hard. Imagine how we all felt. What do you tell him?" said Ms Spence.
For the family it has been tough dealing with the rumour and speculation surrounding the death with assumptions it was connected to looting or gang culture. "My brother had no association with gangs whatsoever, nothing like that. I don't know where these suggestions have come from. He didn't even know anyone in gangs," his sister said. "He was a model parent and a model uncle. Even when he was 14 or 15 he would babysit for me. If he saw my children doing something they shouldn't he would stop them."
Growing up as part of a large close-knit family, he was particularly devoted to his mother as her only son, explained his sister, a singer-song writer. On a Facebook page packed with tributes, the mother of one of his children, Leanne Iley, wrote: "Baby I love you so much and I promise I will never let you go, your daughter will never forget you and you will never leave my heart or my mind."
Mr Ellis, Scotland Yard said, had travelled to Croydon early on Monday with friends, when they were involved in a fight with nine others and a three-car chase ensued, ending with the shooting. Two men were arrested at the scene on suspicion of handling stolen goods and were released on bail.
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