Tears and fancy dress for another victim

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The Independent Online

Friends of the murdered teenager Ben Kinsella wore fancy dress to his funeral yesterday, as his sister renewed her pleas for an end to knife crime.

Ben, 16, brother of the former EastEnders actress Brooke Kinsella, was celebrating the end of his GCSEs last month when he was stabbed after a fight at a bar in Islington spilt on to the street.

Hundreds of mourners, some wearing wigs and oversized brightly coloured sunglasses, attended his funeral service at St John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church in north London.

Despite the upbeat attire, the sadness was obvious: wearing T-shirts bearing anti-knife crime slogans, mourners wept as Ben's purple coffin, bearing a K for his surname, was carried into the church in Islington by members of his family to the strains of Michael Jackson's "Ben". Before the service his sister, Brooke, 24, pleaded for others to lay down their weapons. She said: "Enough is enough. Do something now to make sure your brother, sister, son, or best friend's life doesn't end the same awful way.

"The problem is far worse than imagined. It's why we have to act so quickly. We have to inform youngsters and parents of the brutal truth and work hard, right now, to get rid of this menace."

The Mass – which was attended by Richard Taylor, whose son, Damilola, was murdered; the former EastEnders stars Michelle Ryan, Gillian Taylforth and James Alexandrou; the actress Linda Robson and the Labour MP for Islington North, Jeremy Corbyn – included a poem Ben wrote before his death. It told of his happiness and hopes for his future.

"So what comes next for me?", he had written shortly before his murder. "God knows. I don't. This is my home now and I've never felt better. I'm not scared any more. There's no weight on my shoulders, no struggle. Let's just see what a future here brings. But at the moment, this is living. Not death."

Ben was a keen Arsenal fan and talented actor who had appeared in ITV's The Bill. In the days after he died, about 400 protesters marched along Upper Street in Islington and on to the scene of the killing to demand an end to knife crime.

Laying flowers outside the church, one of Ben's close friends, Brooke Dunford, 16, said: "He was a funny, bright boy. He wouldn't have wanted everyone to wear black." A card attached to the bouquet read: "The most saddest day of my life, Ben when I lost you. I will hold you in my heart forever, I love you, you hottie."

Three teenagers have been charged with his murder. Juress Kika, 18, Michael Alleyne, 18, and Jade Braithwaite, 19, have been remanded in custody until 13 October.