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Mother of murdered son urges online shops to stop selling knives voluntarily if laws won't ban them

16 June 2024, 08:17 | Updated: 16 June 2024, 09:42

Pooja Kanda with Ronan
Pooja Kanda with her son Ronan. Picture: Handout
Fraser Knight.

By Fraser Knight.

The mum of a murdered teenager has told LBC more websites should voluntarily stop the sale of knives, in the absence of laws banning them.

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DNA Leisure, an outdoor resources site, this week announced it would stop selling blades, after being mentioned in at least three teenage murder trials.

Pooja Kanda’s 16-year-old son Ronan was stabbed just metres from his front door in Wolverhampton in 2022, in a case of mistaken identity.

The knife used had been bought on the site and collected by one of his attackers from a Post Office, just hours earlier.

Ms Kanda said: “The fact that they were available online and his perpetrator, who was 16, was able to get it so easily using the fake ID of his mother, made me absolutely sick.

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“If that hadn’t been available online, I firmly believe my son would still be with me.

“The fact that there are no laws to protect us, makes me sick, angry and upset. The laws in place have failed my son.

“DNA Leisure did everything within the law.”

DNA Leisure was set up by Junior Apprentice contestant Adam Eliaz, 31, and has also been mentioned in the case of at least two other killings.

Rayis Nibeel, 17, had bought 79 knives and swords from the site before murdering Omar Khan in Luton last September.

The online firm was also linked to the murder of 16-year-old Rahaan Ahmed Amin in London last year.

Pooja Kanda with Ronan
Pooja Kanda with Ronan. Picture: Handout

LBC understands DNA Leisure has faced growing pressure from senior police leaders in recent months, after it appeared to use an incoming law change to promote its stock with ‘last chance deals’.

From September, new legislation will ban the sale of some zombie knives and machetes and give police extra powers to seize and destroy them.

But in a statement posted on its website earlier this week, DNA Leisure said: “We have made a commercial decision to stop the sale of bladed articles on our website from the 13th of June.

“We have arranged for overseas buyers to purchase our remaining stock. However, if this plan does not succeed, we may resume trading until our stock is gone.”

Ronan Kanda
Ronan Kanda. Picture: West Midlands Police

Ms Kanda said she welcomed the move by Mr Eliaz’s company, saying: “It is too late for me and my family but I hope this decision can protect other families.”

However, she raised concerns that the incoming law change around zombie knives won’t be enough to prevent weapons being sold - adding there needs to be a complete ban of online sales.

Those concerns are shared by retired judge and founder of Fighting Knife Crime London, Bruce Houlder KC.

He told LBC: “The fact that organisations are still being allowed to sell these knives in this country is appalling.

“I have a very strong view that we should pursue online knife sellers through the criminal courts because I think they are now in a position where they are knowingly complicit in the crimes that are committed by those who are carrying the knives. And I mean crimes right up to manslaughter.”

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Mr Houlder also said he’s shocked to see such little mention of knife crime in party manifestos during the General Election campaign.

“It’s not in their manifestos, it’s not front-lined. Helping young people is not really in the front line of their manifestos.

“These young people getting into trouble are the seed corn of our future. They ought to be given a great deal more respect, more time and attention and have a great deal more facilities available to them to keep them out of trouble.”

Commander Stephen Clayman, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for knife crime, told LBC: “We are clear that there is no one solution to tackling knife crime – there never has been nor will there be.

“Limiting supply and accessibility to knives is a key aspect of our national work and we are working with knife crime retailers and specialists to discuss potential approaches to tackling the supply of certain types of knives.

“Possible solutions include improving age verification at point of sale and delivery, alongside looking at what a registration or voluntary code of practice could look like. I have been encouraged by the support from retailers and the appetite for change.”

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A spokesperson for DNA Leisure said: “The bladed items we, and many other UK shops and websites, have historically sold are intended to help law-abiding citizens, including electricians and plumbers, and to support outdoor activities like camping, and for scouts, and bushcrafters or to simply own as a collectors item.

“Even having always complied with UK laws relating to identity and age verification, there have been rare instances – affecting not just our business but others in our sector too – where our products have been fraudulently purchased using stolen IDs.

“Unfortunately, these kinds of people are also able to obtain knives from international websites that aren’t subject to the same level of regulation as businesses like our own in the UK.

“We have, however, taken the decision to go further than the ban coming into effect this summer and stop selling bladed items altogether once our stock has been sold.”

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