Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.


Three arrested over Shaquille murder

Two more people have been arrested over the murder of Shaquille Smith in London on Saturday, Scotland Yard said today.

Meanwhile, the family of the 14-year-old said today that the teenager will "always be in our hearts."

The youngster died after being stabbed in the stomach in St Thomas's Place in Hackney, east London, on Saturday. His sister, Tahira, 16, also suffered knife wounds in the attack and needed hospital treatment.

Residents described seeing a group of around 15 youths on bikes ride up and attack Shaquille as he sat on a bench in a small park in front of his house. The latest arrests followed that of a male in his late teens in the early hours of this morning.

In a statement released today his family said that Shaquille was devoted to his baby sister and had ambitions to live and work in Jamaica. His mother said: "For 13 years, Shaquille was the youngest of my four children, until I had his baby sister a year ago. He wanted a boy, so that he could play football with him. When he had a baby sister he was mesmerised by her, and being the big brother she became the focus of his life."

"Shaquille loved life and his family, including those in Jamaica. He spent his young years growing up with his grandmother and other family members.

"Shaquille loved Jamaica, which he travelled to on a regular basis. He pleaded with me on a regular basis to let him live in Jamaica. When I asked him why he preferred Jamaica, he replied 'all my friends and family are on the same road, and I don't have to travel to see people. I feel free'."

His mother Sandra Maitland added that she had made a deal with her son that he would get good grades in return for being able to work in Jamaica when he was older.

She said: "His sister recently received her GCSE results and they were good. Shaquille made a bet with me that his results would be even better and he made me promise that when he got them I would buy him a car after he got his driving licence."

"Shaquille said to me a week before his death, 'Mum, this has been my best summer, I have really enjoyed myself. Usually I can't wait for it to be over so I can return to school, but this year I want to stay at home and have more fun'.

"Shaquille was special to us. We loved him dearly and he will always be in our hearts. There is nothing bad I can say about him. He was only 14. He was just happy. There is so much that can be said about Shaquille. But it would take a book to cover his short time he spent on earth."

On Monday, friends of Shaquille claimed he had been the innocent victim of a long-running gang war. One spoke of his shock at the attack and said the teenager had been caught in the crossfire of a battle he had nothing to do with.

The 20-year-old, who asked not to be named, said: "I have known him all my life. Shaq's a good guy - the class clown. Everyone knew him but for good reasons. He was innocent. I'm just totally shocked. His family are devastated. They are very quiet and don't want to talk to anyone."

The friend said a violent feud had rumbled on in Hackney between a gang from the London Fields area and a group from the E9 postcode.

"This isn't a feud - it's a war now," he said. "This all goes back to the (Notting Hill) Carnival 2006. There was a fight between one of the youngers from London Fields and an older from E9. The olders saw it as a disrespect thing. It's gone from fist fights to knives to guns and back to knives."

Members of the London Fields gang would travel to E9 to attack teenagers simply for hanging out in that area, he said. "When I was younger they tried to come down and shoot us nearly every day, but people like me got older and got tired of it," he said.

Shaquille, who was the 25th teenager to meet a violent death in the capital this year, lived in St Thomas's Place with his parents and three brothers and sisters.