Police chief vows to bring racist killers to book

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The Independent Online

Britain's only black chief constable has pledged to catch the killers of an 18-year-old man of Nigerian origin who was stabbed to death in a suspected racist killing in Kent.

Mike Fuller, the head of Kent police, visited the scene in Sheerness yesterday where Christopher Alaneme was murdered on Friday night shortly after being racially abused.

Mr Fuller said: "Racist crime is not something we tolerate in this county and we'll be doing everything possible to find and track and prosecute those people responsible."

He added: "It's such a waste of a life. It's so wrong. We will do everything we can to find the people.

"They won't get away with it. I'm very confident of that." Kent police have 50 officers and staff working on the investigation. The Chief Constable said it was a "fast-moving" case and that it was a "tragic loss of a young man's life".

Two of the three white men wanted for questioing over stabbing gave themselves up yesterday. The men, aged 26 and 29, were arrested on suspicion of murder and attempted murder. The remaining man was named last night as Peter Connolly, 29, who comes from Peckham, south-east London.

Another man, who was arrested on Sunday in Maidstone, Kent, is also being questioned about the death while a third has been released on bail.

Christopher moved to the seaside town of Sheerness about two years ago partly to escape the street violence of London, his girlfriend said. His parents moved to Britain from Nigeria in the 1970s and they live with his two sisters in south London.

The teenager, also known as Christian Roberts, or Chris to his friends, was attacked just before midnight on Friday reportedly by a group of young men. Witnesses say he was racially abused before being assaulted and stabbed several times in his body.

One witness has said that Christopher had been trying to protect his friend, a 14-year-old white boy.

A 29-year-old white man, who was stabbed shortly before Christopher was attacked, is recovering in hospital. He is thought to have got caught up in the violence and witnesses say he was not with Christopher.

Friends of the dead teenager have described him as popular, although he did suffer racial abuse while in Kent.

Police said there have been 58 incidents of racist abuse in the Swale area, which includes Sheerness, since the start of the year.

Danielle Price, 16, a former girlfriend of Christopher, said: "He hadn't actually planned to go out that night [when he was murdered]. Later on in the night he said 'let's go out'." Her friends told her he was racially abused before being assaulted. She said: "They started calling him names and following him. They threw a bottle at him and then they all ran off and then Christopher bumped into them all later and that's when they stabbed him."

The cousin of Anthony Walker, the teenage victim of a racist killer in Liverpool, condemned Christopher's murder yesterday as "yet another racist killing".

David Okoro, 38, who lives in south London, said the killing brought back the pain surrounding Anthony's death.

He said: "I think every decent person will be shocked by yet another racist killing. The after-effects of Anthony's murder raised people's awareness that racist murders still take place. Once again, our attention has been raised to a young man who has lost his life because of the colour of his skin.

"When does the killing stop? How many more people have to lose their lives because of the colour of their skin?"

Christopher's death came 13 years after the stabbing of Stephen Lawrence, the 18-year-old black A-level student who was murdered in Eltham, south-east London, only a few miles from Mr Alaneme's former home.