Parents of 'conker row' murder victim demand inquiry

Killer aged 15 had been due before a court for breaching a curfew

The parents of a man knifed to death by a 15-year-old boy with a violent criminal past have demanded an inquiry into the failings of the tagging system after it emerged that his killer breached a curfew six days before the fatal attack.

The teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had been due to be brought before a court after breaking the night-time curfew but authorities said they did not have time to arrange a hearing before he murdered Steven Grisales, 21, in August last year.

The 15-year-old was yesterday detained for a minimum of ten and a half years for fatally stabbing the aspiring architect after he confronted a gang of three who had been hurling conkers at him. The killer responded by plunging a knife into Mr Grisales’ chest and then fled the scene.

Mr Grisales’ parents told The Independent that they felt let down by the system and demanded answers about why the teenager – described by sources close to the case as a “serial curfew breaker” – was free to kill their son. The killer was tagged for a year after being convicted of burglary and theft from a home a month before he stabbed Mr Grisales. The youngster – who gave a clenched fist salute to his family and supporters in the public gallery when he was detained yesterday – had a history of violence and street robberies which dated back to when he was aged 13.

Mr Grisales’ mother, Jasmid, said: “It’s really unfair that they are growing up believing they are gods. The police do their job – they take them in - but they just have to let them go.”

Seated beneath a large picture of their smiling son at their home in Enfield, north London, before yesterday’s hearing, Andres Grisales, the dead man’s father, said: “We want an inquiry. They are spending so much money with these private companies to do this. We asked them why they didn’t do anything.”

The court heard yesterday that he had removed the tag from his leg and had been “absent” from curfew from two days before the killing. The young man’s defence team denied that the tag had been removed, but authorities painted a picture of confusion and problems in communication between the courts, the tagging company and the council that was supposed to enforce any breaches. Serco, one of the companies which last year was paid more than £50m by the Government to administer the scheme, is understood to have passed on details of the serious breach when the boy was out of his home for more than four hours until 1am on 26 August.

A team from Enfield Council said it did not have time to arrange a court hearing because it was a Bank Holiday weekend. Six days after the start of the breach, the blameless Mr Grisales was killed as he returned home during the day after shopping for his grandmother. The killer had not been under curfew at the time of the stabbing.

Mr Grisales, who spent most of his life in Britain, had just returned to the country from Argentina less than a month before he was fatally stabbed. The talented 21-year-old had secured a scholarship at Westminster University to study architecture.

His family, who emigrated from Colombia two decades ago, said that the placid Mr Grisales preferred to sit at home with this three young brothers and sisters to watch videos than to go out. “He’s been family oriented ever since he was a kid,” said Andres Grisales. “He never had a problem with anyone, never had any fights, he had no trouble with the authorities. Even though he was 21, he always asked permission to go out.”

Mrs Grisales first learned of the attack on her son when she was called by a police officer who told her that paramedics were treating her son. Even though he had two lengthy periods of surgery, his parents assumed that their robust rugby-playing son would survive.

His organs were donated to three women, all mothers in their 40s, the family later learned. “When he was very young, he said that if anything happens to me I will be a donor,” said Mrs Grisales. “He is no longer here but there are some parts of him that are still working. At least we had the comfort that he was helping other people.”

Mr Grisales said that the death of his son – described in court as an “outstanding human being” had devastated the family. “The only thing that remains is emptiness,” he said.

Electronic errors: Tags and trouble

Problems with tagging reported by the probation officers' union Napo included:

* A violent offender in Warwickshire due to be tagged for eight weeks, but the device was still not fitted seven weeks later.

* A curfew area did not cover a balcony - leading to a breach every time a London offender went to have a cigarette.

* The signal from the tags cut out while offenders in South Yorkshire were in the bath.

* An offender tricked staff into tagging his false leg after wrapping it in a bandage.

* Two men were convicted after the stepfather of an offender convinced operators that he was the person who should be tagged.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific