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Family pays tribute to stabbed teen actor

The family of a young actor murdered early on Saturday have paid tribute to him and called for much tougher sentencing for knife crimes.

Robert Knox, 18, who will appear alongside Daniel Radcliffe in the forthcoming Harry Potter film, became the 28th teenager murdered in Britain this year when he was stabbed trying to defend his younger brother from a knifeman.

He was the 14th teenager to be murdered in London alone this year. A 21-year-old man has been arrested.

The attack, which left four other people with serious stab wounds, took place outside the Metro bar on Station Road in Sidcup, south-east London, just after midnight on Friday.

Witnesses said the attacker was thrown out of the bar by bouncers, but returned with several friends. Mr Knox was taken to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich but was pronounced dead before 1am.

This weekend his family said his role as Ravenclaw student Marcus Belby in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, due to be released in November, was set to launch his acting career.

In a statement released on Saturday night, his parents, Sally and Colin Knox, paid tribute to their son.

"Rob was kind and thoughtful and would always help out others. He would always spend his last penny on other people instead of himself," they said.

The murder took place just a few miles from where Jimmy Mizen, a 16-year-old altar boy, was murdered a fortnight ago while trying to shield his brother. Both had played for Sidcup Rugby Club.

Mr Knox's uncle, John Knox, yesterday expressed his family's sense of anger at his murder and called for much stiffer sentences for young people who were found carrying knives. "It makes them feel big I suppose; they must be lacking something internally where they feel the need to carry them," he said.

He also disagreed with comments on Saturday by Sir Aynsley Green, the Children's Commissioner for England, who said tough new policing measures, including using hand-held metal detectors, were "contentious", and would antagonise young people.

Mr Knox said that rather than being "treated nicely", those caught with knives should be jailed.

Flowers were laid at the scene of the crime yesterday. Police say they do not believe that it was gang-related.

The victim's grandmother said yesterday that Mr Knox was "big teddy bear" who always defended people getting a "tough deal". "I hope people listening who have teenagers, boys especially, take note – check what they're carrying in their pocket," Maggie Knox told the BBC. "Try, at least, to put a stop to this dreadful thing. They will never want it to happen to them."

Mr Knox was a former pupil of Beths Grammar School in Bexley, whose alumni include Steve Backley, the former Olympic javelin thrower.