Oxford Street gang murder victim faced trial for rape

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The Independent Online

A man stabbed to death in Oxford Street this week was facing charges of raping a 16-year-old girl and pouring acid over her afterwards to hide the crime, police revealed yesterday.

Steven Bigby, 22, who was knifed in the chest outside a McDonald's restaurant on Monday afternoon, was on bail awaiting trial over the attack, Scotland Yard said. Mr Bigby, from Hackney, east London, was one of 10 men charged over the rape, in which the girl allegedly had caustic soda poured over her to destroy DNA evidence. The teenage victim was treated for severe burns after the assault in Tottenham in January.

Mr Bigby was also due to stand trial next month over a fight at a Tottenham snooker club in October 2006 where a knife was found. Two men, aged 18 and 19, who were arrested on Tuesday over the killing of Mr Bigby, were still being questioned at an east London police station yesterday. A post-mortem examination confirmed he died from a single stab wound to the heart.

His murder is not thought to be linked to the rape of the 16-year-old. Police said Mr Bigby was stabbed after an argument broke out between two gangs of men in one of London's busiest shopping areas. A drink was thrown by one of the youths and the "spontaneous" row quickly escalated.

The incident, as well as the stabbing of two teenage boys in Holloway, north London, on Sunday, and the murder of 16-year-old Jimmy Mizen at a bakery in Lee, south-east London on Saturday, prompted police to step up the fight against knife crime. Scotland Yard said last night that a 19-year-old man has been charged with murdering Mizen.

Ten stop-and-search squads of 15 officers each will be deployed at "knife-crime hot spots London over the coming days. Police will be able to stop and search people under Section 60 of the Public Order Act, which does not require reasonable suspicion. The Home Office has provided 100 airport-style metal detectors and 200 detecting wands.

Tim Godwin, an assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, said the operation would be "fairly in your face".