'They demanded his mobile phone. Then they just stabbed him'

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The Independent Online

One side of Daisy Lane is lined with expensive homes, the other with an unremarkable redbrick estate. Kieran Rodney-Davis, 15, came from the wrong side of the street and it was there that he bled to death.

One side of Daisy Lane is lined with expensive homes, the other with an unremarkable redbrick estate. Kieran Rodney-Davis, 15, came from the wrong side of the street and it was there that he bled to death.

Yesterday flowers and poignant messages were left at the scene where the boy, weakened by blood loss, had fallen as he tried to stagger home.

Police believe he had been stabbed in broad daylight in a west London suburb surrounded by tree-lined parks for his £79 mobile phone. It had been given to him by his mother for his birthday a fortnight earlier.

The suspected robbery by a gang of youths is just one of an estimated 700,000 phone snatches that take place every year. Many, like the killing of Kieran, are carried out by gangs of teenagers barely older than their victims.

The youngster, who had never played truant in his life, was allowed to take Wednesday off because of an upset stomach and the fact that his new braces were hurting him. After lunch, his mother, Antoinette Rodney, suggested that he walk down the road to get some pain-relieving gel to ease the ache.

He was walking home when he bumped into his friend Charlie Ironside, 17. As they turned the corner three youths, wearing balaclavas or bandanas to mask their faces, approached.

"They asked us for our phones. We said no and they took his hat from him and he asked for it back," said Charlie.

"One boy said, 'Do you want to get shanked?'. Kieran said, 'Come on bruv, come on bruv', and then he [the boy] just stabbed him."

Kieran staggered across the street on to the estate but fell. "I thought he was joking. I turned him over and there was blood rushing out of him," Charlie continued.

An ambulance was called as his mother was alerted. By the time Mrs Rodney and his father, Paul Davis, reached Chelsea and Westminster hospital, Kieran was dead.

Yesterday Mrs Rodney, 37, sat in her living room surrounded by pictures of her only child. Sympathy cards stood next to those he had received for his birthday.

"I can't believe it. I am still waiting for my son to come home," she said.

After completing nine GCSEs at Fulham Phoenix High School in Shepherds Bush, Kieran had hoped to travel, she explained.

"I just want to bury my son and I want the police to catch those that did it. I don't want another family to go through what we are going through," said Mrs Rodney. "I don't know what to say to them [the attackers]. I would ask their mothers to hand their sons in if they have done something like that.

"They must have blood on them. My son was covered in blood," she added.

Kieran's father, from whom she is estranged, was so distraught that he was said to be just wandering the streets.

Yesterday, Kieran's friends tried to look tough but could not mask their sadness. Among them was Kieran's girlfriend of six months, who placed two pink roses and a long message, which began: "It's just like u to leave me alone 4 ages + I jus wish you'd cum back. I love you so much and always will."

"He loved baby pink, it was his favourite colour," said Cassandra Lewis, 15. "He was always laughing and joking, nothing was serious."

"He was a big, bouncy, gregarious kid with a wide range of friends," said his headmaster William Atkinson, adding: "If you saw the grief at school and how upset people are this morning you would understand how popular he was."

Mother and son had lived on the Sulivan Estate in Fulham for 14 years. Kieran's friends said that the estate been plagued by a "crew from south", wearing red bandanas and intent on robbery. Attacks on teenagers were regular as the crew demanded their phones, explained Craig Johnstone, 16.

"They think people are vulnerable around here," he said. "People on this estate don't use knives. If something happens they sort it out with fists."

Recent Home Office research estimates that 710,000 mobile phones were stolen in England and Wales in 2001 - almost double the number recorded by police. One survey suggests that more than half a million of those were taken from children aged between 11 and 15.

Of the 4,000 street crimes in London every month about half involve the theft of a mobile phone and in 1,200 cases the victims are targeted specifically for them. Nationally about a quarter of robberies involve a phone.

Two-thirds of muggings are carried out by gangs. The Home Office study found that suspects are overwhelmingly teenagers and disproportionately likely to be black.

One third of those accused are 15 or 16, and in London almost 70 per cent are under 18.

Yesterday police appealed for help in tracing three black youths seen running from the area wearing balaclavas or bandanas, one of which was possibly red. No weapon was recovered from the scene and officers searched through bushes and bins yesterday.

A post-mortem examination showed Kieran died as a result of a single stab wound to the chest. Detective Chief Inspector Dave Little, leading the inquiry, said: "We feel certain this started out as a robbery and ended up a pointless murder of an innocent youngster."