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Tears and trauma at community meeting as Croydon reels from schoolgirl’s fatal stabbing

London mayor Sadiq Khan addressed an emotional meeting after Elianne Andam became the latest victim of knife crime in the capital

Maira Butt,Barney Davis
Friday 29 September 2023 16:01 BST
Sadiq Khan says Elianne Andam's family 'will never be the same'

There were tears at an emotionally charged community meeting in Croydon, following the fatal stabbing of a 15 year-old girl on her way to school.

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan told the gathering on Friday the family of Elianne Andam “will never be the same again” after their tragic loss. Elianne died from a severe neck injury after being attacked in front of horrified school friends at around 8.30am on Wednesday.

Mr Khan joined the meeting, held in a shopping centre metres away from where Elianne was killed, to hear the fears of local parents about the safety of their children on their own way to school.

Elianne Andam was stabbed to death in the street in Croydon (PA)

At one point the Mayor of London put his arm around a tearful member of the community who excused himself from the meeting early.

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Afterwards, Mr Khan told the Independent: “I’m a dad with two daughters, when you hear about a girl being killed, you feel this is a young person who would have done amazing things.

“Her family and friends will not be the same again. Never. If you speak to a bereaved mum or dad even 5, 10, 15, 20 years later, they’re never the same again.

“And that’s why it’s really important for young people in particular to understand the consequences of carrying a knife or leaving home with an offensive weapon.

“You’re not more safe by having a knife in your hand or an offensive weapon in your hand. You’re less safe.”

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan speaks with Croydon community leaders involved in the violence reduction unit's MyEnds programme (Jordan Pettitt/PA Wire)

The meeting also heard how police officers at the scene escorted two traumatised schoolgirls who were with Elianna to a safe place in the shopping mall away from danger.

Visitors to the crime scene described the atmosphere as “sombre” on Friday morning as the local people continued to deal with the aftershocks of the 15-year-old’s death.

Wellwishers came from all across the capital to pay their respects, with some saying they felt as if was their own daughter who had been taken.

“It’s absolutely heartbreaking as a parent, I’m devastated,” said Chevon Buchanan, 38, who is a mother of two children of a similar age to Elianne.

People arrive to lay flowers at the scene in Croydon, south London, where 15-year-old Elianne was stabbed to death (James Manning/PA Wire)
There has been an outpouring of grief since the tragedy (PA)

Flowers and tributes had been left at the scene, including one saying: “Sleep with the angels.”

One card read: “Words cannot express how sad we are that you were taken from this earth so early”, while another simply asked: “Why?”

Wayne Lindsay, a director at local charity from Project 4 Youth Empowerment, had been at the scene in the immediate aftermath.

“You never get used to [teenage deaths],” he said. “I lost my cousin myself in 2020 it brings a lot of my own feelings and emotions back up.

“I think it was important for Sadiq to come down and show solidarity with Croydon. I think we were the first people at the scene we have seen the impact on the community the ripples spreading out.

“You can see the grief goes on, there is a lot of fear. People feel like it wasn’t a gang member or a boy you typically see impacted by violence. But this is a young girl going to private school.

“This has made people feel this could impact anybody. It could be my child or even me if you are a young person.”

Elianne was a “much loved” young girl, her family said (PA Wire)

He added that young people under his guidance had launched podcasts, having conversations about violence against young girls, consent and open relationships.

“The responsibility must be on boys, not girls, to talk to each other,” he said. “Fathers need to talk to their sons on how to keep each other safe.”

A 17-year-old boy appeared in court on Friday charged with the murder of Elianne and having a knife. He was remanded in custody to appear at the Old Bailey on 3 October.

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