Police question youths over party stab death

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The Independent Online

Two youths will be quizzed today over the death of a 15-year-old stabbed when violence erupted at a church hall party.

Stephen Lewis died on Saturday - two weeks before his 16th birthday - after suffering stab wounds to his chest in east London. He became the first violent teenage death in the capital this year.

Two boys, aged 16 and 17, were arrested on suspicion of murder yesterday and are being held for questioning.

A badly-wounded Stephen was discovered by officers at around 11pm on Saturday at Whitwell Road, Plaistow, following disturbances at a charity party in a church hall nearby.

Police said a large gang was seen in the area around the time of the attack and eyewitnesses reported fights breaking out within the venue.

Detective Chief Inspector Simon Moring, from Homicide and Serious Crime Command with the force said: "What we know is that there was a party at St Cedd's church hall that finished at about 10.30pm.

"I think there was a lot of people here on the street last night. It would be difficult for me to give a precise number but maybe even up to 100."

Refusing to rule out the murder was gang-related, he said: "I'm open minded as to what the motive might be. Clearly this is a tragic stabbing of a young man who was in the prime of his life, who was just 15 years old. Absolutely tragic."

Stephen's mother, Sharon, arrived with a large group of family to lay flowers at the scene yesterday.

As she was crying and hugging her relatives, she was overheard to say: "My boy, my boy. Stupid night out. For what?"

An aunt of the victim, who said her name was Michelle and that they were from the local area, gave a brief statement on behalf of Stephen's mother.

"Everybody loved him. They are going to miss him," she said.

Two women who wished to be remain anonymous but said they were part of Stephen's extended family, claimed his brother and sister were with him when he died.

They said: "He was stabbed in the heart. He would have been 16 in two weeks.

"His sister was holding him when he was dying. She's 16 herself. His brother is 13 and saw everything. They were all going to a party together."

The Rev Eugeniah Adoyo, vicar of St Philip and St James' Church, which adjoins the church hall where the party took place, said: "I just think it's dreadful. Knife crime has got out of hand."

"It's meant to be a charity that deals with violence among black people, specifically youths."

A second murder investigation was also launched yesterday following the fatal stabbing of a 26-year-old man in Wembley, north London.

Police, responding to reports of a fight, discovered a man with a single stab wound to his back at 1.40am yesterday.

He was taken to Northwick Park Hospital but was pronounced dead shortly after arrival.

Next of kin have not yet been informed and formal identification is yet to take place.

Four men and a woman have been arrested.