Two held over deaths of boys stabbed in teenage fracas

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The Independent Online

Amurder inquiry has begun after two teenage boys were found dead in a woodland picnic area.

The victims, Steven Bayliss, 14, and a 16-year-old, whose identity was not released but who was known by his nickname of T Wood, are believed to have been stabbed and left in the woodland near a footpath in Wokingham, Berkshire.

Two 18-year-olds were being held in custody yesterday on suspicion of murder. It is understood that one of the arrested men phoned Thames Valley Police shortly after the killings took place on a quiet country lane off Evendons Lane.

The pretty mile-long lane was cordoned off after helicopters were scrambled to the scene on Sunday night and a house was searched by a forensic science team.

Chief Inspector Lindsey Finch, the area commander at Wokingham, confirmed that police had received a phone call at about 8.15pm on Sunday from a man informing them of the killings. She said the deaths were believed to be a result of "alleged assault". She added: "We cannot stress what a shock these incidents have been to the people of Wokingham."

Unconfirmed reports suggested the two boys were killed after an altercation involving a number of teenagers spiralled out of control.

Both victims and the two arrested men grew up in the local areay. Steven Bayliss attended Emmbrook school, while T Wood was a former pupil.

Linda Peart, the acting headteacher at Emmbrook, paid tribute to the boys and said their fellow pupils had been offered counselling. "This is tragic news that will affect the whole school community and beyond. Our thoughts are particularly with the boys' families and friends at this time. Both boys will be greatly missed," Ms Peart said.

Pupils made their way to a spot along Evendons Lane yesterday to lay flowers, tributes and mementos, including bracelets and necklaces. Written tributes included: "You didn't deserve this" and "We love you". The spot was only yards away from the police cordon and a crime scene team searching a house. Nearby there were leaflets offering counselling for the grieving children.

Stephen Bayliss's parents and two older sisters, Chantelle and Emma, gathered at the family home where they have lived for 15 years. The smart housing development is less than a mile from the crime scene. T Wood is also believed to have lived near by.

A neighbour of the Bayliss family said she had often seen the two boys out with a group of teenagers on the nearby green.

She said: "They're a nice, quiet family who have lived here far longer than me. I think he [Stephen] was out standing around quite a lot. He would be here on the green with a group of friends.

"I knew both boys, they did not cause any trouble and the group was not intimidating. I know Stephen to be from a decent family. His father went out to work before I got up every day and plays golf, and the mother works part time."

Stan Lunnon, another neighbour, said he knew one of the suspects and he was an ordinary teenager who would chat about "motorbikes and tattoos".

Police sealed off the front garden of a house believed to be where one of the suspects lived. A formal identification of the two boys took place yesterday. Police are appealing for witnesses who may have seen the boys shortly before they died.