'This could be anyone's child': Girl killed for helping friend was 'in the wrong place at the wrong time', says minister

28 September 2023, 09:09

Richard Holden said the girl stabbed to death on the bus was 'in the wrong place at the wrong time'
Richard Holden said the girl stabbed to death on the bus was 'in the wrong place at the wrong time'. Picture: LBC/Getty

By Kit Heren

A schoolgirl who was stabbed to death in Croydon after intervening when a fight broke out between her friend and her friend's ex-boyfriend was "in the wrong place at the wrong time," a minister has said.

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The 15-year-old, named locally as Eliyanna, is believed to have been cut in the neck after the row on the bus turned violent on Wednesday morning.

The argument began when a boy was trying to speak to her friend and hand her flowers, witnesses said. Her friend is said to have tried to give him back his belongings when a fight broke out and the victim was killed. A teenager was arrested later that morning, and is being held by police.

Roads minister Richard Holden told LBC's Nick Ferrari that "anyone's child" could have been killed in a similar situation.

"A 15-year-old girl senselessly taken away - I can understand why everyone is so saddened and absolutely sickened by incidents like this," he said.

Roads Minister Richard Holden on Croydon stabbing

He added: "Often this isn’t the people carrying the knives, this is just people who, like this young lady, happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time - just standing up for a friend."

Asked if parents should be held partially responsible for violent children, as well as police and local and city authorities, Mr Holden agreed, but added: "It’s incumbent on us all actually, if we know of situations like this or people carrying knives, we really do have to report them and get it stopped...

"It could be you, it could be your child, or your friend who ends up sadly killed in this way."

Eyewitnesses claimed a machete-style blade was drawn in the fight, which took place at about 8.30am as the No60 double decker the victim was on travelled past the Whitgift Centre.

Bus passenger Bridget said: "I was on the bus before and came off and walked back down, I saw them resuscitating her.

"The driver was holding her, and a lady. The emergency services were already here when I walked back."

Chevanice Thomas, 28, said a boy "gave [a girl] flowers, but she didn't want anything to do with him" before the encounter turned violent.

A note was recovered from the scene
A note was recovered from the scene. Picture: Getty

Security worker Victor Asare said: "A lot of people came, everyone came off the bus.

“(The suspect) ran. Everybody was crying and screaming. The girl was on the floor.

"We tried to catch him and a lot of people tried to save the girl. I was so shocked, I was shaken. It’s somebody’s daughter."

A 17-year-old boy thought to have been known to the victim was arrested in New Addington in south London and is in custody.

Eyewitness said they saw children running from the scene at about 8.30am.

The girl and her attacker ended up on the pavement and she was stabbed there, some claimed.

Mr Asare, who was coming home from work on the bus said he saw a boy in a black blazer stab a girl in the neck with a blade that was "about a foot long".

The girl was thought to have been offered flowers before an attack
The girl was thought to have been offered flowers before an attack. Picture: Getty

"Everybody was crying and screaming. The girl was on the floor," he told The Sun.

"We tried to catch him and a lot of people tried to save the girl. I was so shocked, I was shaken. It's somebody's daughter.

"I finished work but couldn't sleep, so came back, I wanted to see if the girl was OK."

Earlier, it emerged the girl's family were called to the scene but tragically they did not make it in time.

'This is what Croydon is right now' says expert and concerned mum

"I got a phone call from the police and came down, and it was here I spoke to the family," James Watkins, a support worker at youth organisation Mainz World, said.

"They received a call to come to the scene shortly after the incident happened. Unfortunately they [were not] able to arrive in time [before she died]."

Old Palace of John Whitgift School described the victim as a "much-loved and valued friend and pupil".

"It will take some time for the Old Palace community to come to terms with this terrible news, and we will offer support to our pupils as we try to do so.

"Above all, we send our love and deepest sympathies to the girl's family at this unimaginably distressing time."

Forensics officers were seen picking up a note and putting it in an evidence box.

"I love you so much and I never met someone with a better smile and better eyes than what you have, special girl," it said.

An envelope had written on it: "I love you so much and I never met someone with a better smile and better eyes than what you have, special girl".

A girl, 15, was stabbed to death in Croydon on Wednesday
A girl, 15, was stabbed to death in Croydon on Wednesday. Picture: Getty

Read More: Police and paramedics surround Croydon bus amid reports 'a schoolgirl' has been 'stabbed'

Met Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley said: "The senseless murder of a 15-year-old girl on her way to school is impossible to comprehend.

"It was moving and humbling to meet many members of the exceptional Croydon community who have come together in support of a family now dealing with the most unimaginable grief.

"The commitment of so many from the local community is inspiring. A powerful partnership between charitable groups, faith and community leaders, the local authority, the wider public and our officers has delivered so much work across the borough.

Tributes have been left to the girl
Tributes have been left to the girl. Picture: Alamy

"They have collectively saved many lives from knife crime. Many are shocked and hurting. They care deeply and it’s this passion which has made Croydon a safer place and will continue to in the future.

"I spoke to officers who, with members of the public, were among the first on scene with colleagues trying to save this young girl's life and have since supported her family and friends.

"Through diligent work by them all an early arrest was made and our major crime team now continue to investigate the events leading up to this awful attack."

Read More: Girl, 15, stabbed to death in Croydon after teenage boy 'tried to give her flowers' on bus

The Metropolitan Police said a teenager had been arrested at around 9.45am in the Croydon area.

"At this early stage we believe that he may have known her," police said.

The victim's family were called to the scene, but they did not make it in time before she died
The victim's family were called to the scene, but they did not make it in time before she died. Picture: Getty

Jason Perry, the Mayor of Croydon, said he was "devastated" by the news, and said his team's thoughts were with the victim's family and friends.

"I would like to thank all those who responded so quickly and professionally to the incident," he said.

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