A murder investigation was launched in London today after a boy as young as 12 was found stabbed and burnt beyond recognition.
Detectives are trying to establish the identity of the child, thought to be Asian and aged between 12 and 16, who had suffered serious injuries to his upper body.
He was found near a veterans' club in Roe Green Park, Kingsbury, north west London, by passers–by at 8.30am yesterday.
The area around the park has been sealed off.
Oren Parry, 20, said: "A policeman came round and interviewed me last night and said they had found a body burnt behind a playpen in the park.
"Because the burn marks were so bad they couldn't identify what colour he was.
"The police officer seemed very upset. Obviously it must have been horrific if they weren't even able to tell what colour it was.
"I asked what had happened and he was also stabbed as well. He must have been stabbed before he was set on fire."
Mr Parry, who has lived in the area for seven years, said: "It's got worse and worse round here with violent crimes.
"There's been a couple of shootings and stabbings and now people are being set on fire.
"There was a shot let off 500 yards down the road about a week ago.
"It used to be better but they built a new estate nearby."
He said there were around six secondary and primary schools close to the park.
Another resident, 58–year–old publisher John Hughes, said: "The police came round and told me that a charred body was found in the park.
"It was so badly charred they couldn't identify the person. They said it was burnt beyond recognition."
Mr Hughes, who has lived near the park for 18 months, said: "It's a peaceful area, there's a little bit of smashing bus stops and phone boxes.
"But if you can be dragged out and set on fire by a bunch of skinheads or acidheads I want to know about it."
Other residents said the neighbourhood had become more violent in recent years with gangs of teenage boys hanging around in the park and causing trouble.
Jaya Vaja, 54, said: "There are a few boys, white, black and Asian, who stand around here at night time causing trouble and breaking car windows.
"But I never thought anything like this would happen here and now I will be scared to go out."
Other neighbours spoke of their shock at the discovery and said they had always regarded the park is safe.
Georgina Kleanthous, 56, said: "When the police came here yesterday morning and cordoned off an area of the park we were so shocked.
"I have lived here for 40 years and it is a nice area. The park is very safe and I used to walk my dog there early in the morning, about the time this boy's body was found.
"A lot of people who live in this road are elderly and most have lived here for years and years, and we have never seen anything awful like this before."
Kevin Booth, 34, said: "I walk through the park late at night on my way to and from work and I've always found it very safe. It's an open space which looks on to the road and I've never seen any trouble there."
Mr Hughes added: "There were a few people stabbed in a pub just down the road recently."
Another resident, 30–year–old business manager Zak Zoberi said: "There was a car burnt out in a park a few months ago, I saw it when I was jogging.
"The motorbikes go up and down the road using it like a launch pad and there are young guys with banging music."Reuse content