Stabbed teen's parents plead for end to violence

Change must come 'from within', say Mizen family, before memorial service

Danny Brierley,Ross Logan
Sunday 23 October 2011 07:10
Margaret and Barry Mizen speaking to the press yesterday before the memorial service in south London for their 16-year-old son Jimmy
Margaret and Barry Mizen speaking to the press yesterday before the memorial service in south London for their 16-year-old son Jimmy

"Anger breeds anger, and bitterness will destroy my family if I'm not careful – and I won't allow that to happen." With those simple words, Margaret Mizen, whose teenage son Jimmy was murdered a week ago, entered Our Lady of Lourdes church in Lee, south-east London, yesterday to pray for her son and for the family of the man alleged to have killed him.

In a display of dignity and faith, Mr Mizen's father, Barry, made a plea for an end to senseless violence. He suggested legislation might not be the answer and change would have to come from people examining themselves.

As she stood with her husband and addressed the media before going in to a memorial service for their 16-year-old son, Mrs Mizen said there were "not enough hugs and love in this world" as she arrived for the service.

During a day of poignant reminders, Mrs Mizen, 55, revealed her "gorgeous baby" had been born on the day of the FA Cup final in 1992.

He became the 13th teenager to be killed – nine with knives – in the capital this year when he was allegedly stabbed in the neck with a shard of glass at a bakery last weekend. Jimmy, a committed Christian, was killed just a day after his birthday.

Mrs Mizen appealed to the media for the family of Jake Fahri, the 19-year-old charged with Jimmy's murder, to be left alone. "He has a young sibling and her life is going to be bad enough," she said.

Mr Mizen, 56, fought back tears as he said before the service: "It does not have to be like this. People are saying something must be done. I just wonder how futile it is with more and more legislation and laws.

"Perhaps we all need to look at ourselves and look to the values we would like and our responses to situations in our life. Sometimes we might be drawn into certain ways of living. It is our choice, but change has got come from all of us."

There were few signs of such change yesterday. Hours before the service began, and less than 10 miles from where Jimmy was killed, two 19-year-old men were left with serious stab injuries following an early-morning street fight outside a club in east London.

Jimmy Mizen's six brothers and two sisters attended the south London memorial service led by Bishop Patrick Lynch. One of his brothers, Danny, 30, told the congregation: "Jimmy was such an amazing bloke, such an amazing character. He was the focal point of everybody and there was not a bad bone in that boy's body."

Sir Steve Bullock, the mayor of Lewisham, the London borough where the Mizen family lives, also spoke. He said: "The death of a young person is by definition tragic. The loss is not only what they were and what they also meant to family and friends, but also the loss of what they could have done in the future – the potential to make the world a better place."

More than 500 packed the church and hundreds more stood outside in pouring rain. Hymns sung included "Make Me a Channel of Your Peace". Flowers, balloons, school ties and blazers were left by people paying tribute to the 6ft 4in "gentle giant". The ecumenical ceremony included ministers from nearby Anglican churches.

The parish priest, Father Edward Perera, said: "They say actions speak louder than words and we experienced that in the church in a very tangible and very powerful way."

Later the family visited the Three Cooks bakery where Jimmy died. They left lilies among scores of other floral tributes and read messages left by well-wishers.

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