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Friday, 10 July 2009

The Murder of Ben Hitchcock

The gang-related murders of Shakilus Townsend and Shaquille Smith have made the news this week. The first victim was a gangster himself, but the second was by all accounts a decent 14 year old army cadet.

A third case of gang-related murder which also ended this week, with two acquittals, did not make it out of the local papers in any great detail.

That case was the killing of Ben Hitchcock (above), who was beaten and stabbed to death in 2007 by up to forty youths.

Ben was in a gang, in the Borough of Penge. On the night of his death, he was turned away from a ticket-only birthday party with six friends. Police had to be called to persuade them to accept the decision.

On the way home they were jumped by a rival gang from Lewisham. The story is that Ben stood out because he was the only white youth present in either gang, and all of his clothes were white.

Whatever the reason, Ben was savagely attacked:

A schoolboy who was beaten and stabbed to death by a mob of youths asked for his mother with his dying words.

It's emerged Ben Hitchcock, 16, had just been trying to gatecrash a house party before he was killed.

Ben, was one of several teenagers who tried to get into a ticket-only 13th birthday party on Saturday night, police said. Officers had to be called to turn them away.

Soon after, Ben, who was a member of a gang, was ambushed by up to 40 teenagers from a rival gang.

Witnesses said he was stabbed, battered to the ground and stamped on by dozens of hooded youths wearing gang colours, and armed with broken bottles, chains and knives.

The teenager managed to stagger to his feet but was punched towards an iron spiked railing in Beckenham, Kent, on to which he fell.

Today, his mother described him as "the kindest, happiest and most loving boy that ever walked this earth".

Lee Hitchcock said her son would be missed "terribly" and she appealed for anyone with information to contact police.

Ben, from Penge, was killed in a fight involving up to 40 youths in Southend Road, Beckenham, shortly before midnight on Saturday.

He was taken to Lewisham Hospital by ambulance where he was pronounced dead. A post mortem found he died of a single stab wound to the abdomen.

There's no doubt that Ben was no angel and willingly part of a violent gang culture. But his death was a terrible and agonising one.

The rival gang widely considered the attack and the murder a great success, later boasting to Ben's gang:

"We stabbed your white boy."

Here is some of the trial testimony:

A teenager was stabbed to death as a ptiched battle involving up to 60 youths broke out on the streets of London, the Old Bailey heard today.

The killers considered the murder a “success” and boasted about what they had done, the jury was told.

Although the killing of Ben Hitchcock was not racially motivated he had stood out because he was the only white boy in the battle and he wore white clothing, the court heard.

He was a victim of the gang violence that broke out between rivals in the “blue borough” of Lewisham and the “green borough” of Penge.

The blues were named after the colour of the bins and lamposts in Lewisham.

Their rivals are known from the sign on the borders of Penge, “welcome to the Green Borough.”

The battle started after Ben and some of the Penge gang arrived at a 13-year-old girl's birthday party near Beckenham High Street in June 2007.

Taunting started and a large and armed group of the “blues” quickly assembled and a fight broke out involving “bats, bottles, knives as well as fists and feet,” said Edward Brown QC, prosecuting.

“Ben Hitchcock's murder was the direct result of a pitched battle between rival gangs which was, for all intents and purposes planned among most of those who took part,” he told the jury.

“He was the victinm of a knife and by the end he laying on the pavement. During the fighting he suffered a fatal wound to the back.

“Although there seems to have no significance in it at all, he stood out to a degree. According to many he was the only white boy among the groups and he was also wearing white clothing.”

Mr Brown continued: “Soon after the violence subsided, as the terrible results became clear and Ben lay dead or dying, it was as if it was something that was a success' in some people's eyes.

“There were boasts about having been responsible for his death.”

Four teenagers said to be in the Lewisham Blue borough gang have pleaded not guilty to murder. They are Andre Lawrence-Bennett, then aged 16 and now 18, Mitchell Elliott, 19, Tunji Ololu, 18, and 19-year-old Royston Thomas.

The court heard that the young teenage girl who threw the party said that Ben was among a group of boys she did not recognise who arrived outside her front door.

She said he, wearing the white clothing, stood out as being “noticeably rude” and his group made veiled threats.

The police were called and Thomas, who with Ololu was already at the party, handed to a girl a sock containing a knife and gas canister.

When the police left the area Thomas retrieved the weapons from her before the fighting broke out, the court heard.

Elliot and Bennett, known by the street name “Younger Kaiser”, were in Sydenham but were alerted by mobile phone.

“Bennett quickly became, described by one who saw him, hyper. He was plainly agitated. He said the Penge lot had come down' and how they had tried to gatecrash the party,” said Mr Brown.

Bennett, Elliott took the bus to Beckenham and gathered with 20 or more who were “armed and anticipating violence.”

This group joined their fellow gang members, including Ololu and Thomas, already in the area and far outnumbered the Penge “green” gang, the court heard.

Despite this, earlier this week the youths on trial were acquitted of murder:

TWO teenagers have been cleared of murdering 16-year-old Ben Hitchcock.

Andre Lawrence-Bennett, aged 18, of Brownhill Road, Catford, and 19-year-old Mitchell Elliott, of Howerd Way, Woolwich, were acquitted at the Old Bailey this morning.

Ben's mum Lee cried when the verdicts were announced, while friends and family of the defendants cheered in the public gallery.

Ben, of Blean Grove, Penge, was stabbed during a fight on June 23, 2007, after he and friends from the Penge Block gang tried to gatecrash a party attended by rival Lewisham gang members.

His kidney was punctured when he was stabbed in the back during the brawl in Southend Road, Beckenham.

He died in hospital early the next morning.

During the five-week trial, Elliott admitted lying to police about his whereabouts on the evening Ben was killed.

After initially claiming he was not in the area he later told officers he was there but was the victim of an unprovoked attack.

Meanwhile, Lawrence-Bennett, who had been accused of riding up to Ben on a BMX bike and stabbing him, was acquitted after 20 eyewitnesses said they did not even see a bike.

Royston Thomas, aged 19, of Hazel Grove, Sydenham, also denies murder.

He was declared unfit to continue with this trial last week and has been bailed until November 16 when he will stand trial again.

Olatunji Olulu, aged 18, of Firhill Road, Catford, who was charged with Ben's murder, was acquitted mid-trial due to a lack of evidence.

There has been no outcry in the media, no riots, no accusations of institutional racism in the police investigation, no memorials attended by politicians, no memorial stones and community centres, no attempting to try anyone as long as it results in conviction - nothing, in fact.

Something to think about.


Dr.D said...

This shows the continuing negative influence of third world culture on the UK. It is not natural behavior for white people to run in gangs. This has to be learned from black or brown people. Ben was, unfortunately, already headed badly in the wrong direction. He had made some terrible choices long before that night, he and his parents.

Ah, the benefits of multiculturalism!

Anonymous said...

The above comment is nonsense, they all chose to be there and fight each other but it is just a fact and nothing else that Ben was white. As for it not be natural behaviour for white people to run in gangs have you not heard of the maffia or the Krays?

Anonymous said...

i agree that the first comment is a bit silly. however to say that hte killing of ben was not racist is utter nonsense. but it happens all hte time in london!!! that said he shouldn't have been there in hte first place.

Anonymous said...

i personally think its disgusting how so many got away with doing this crime they did do it and the sad thing is they got away with it i hope one day they have a son or more and they have to go through this crap lets see how they feel karma is a bitch and it will bite them on the arse or get someone that means alot to them. As for there family members cheering great family they got condoning what there sons brothers cousins or how ever there related have done people like that dont deserve to be on this planet nasty shallow sick people!