UK

Girl fatally stabbed on way to school was ‘very comedic’ with ‘bright future’

A forensic investigator puts flowers into a container at the scene near the Whitgift shopping centre (Lucy North/PA)
A forensic investigator puts flowers into a container at the scene near the Whitgift shopping centre (Lucy North/PA)

Tributes have been paid to a 15-year-old girl who was stabbed to death on her way to school in south London, with the teenager described as “very comedic” and with a “bright future”.

The “much-loved” girl died after being stabbed in the neck with a foot-long knife during the Wednesday morning rush hour in Croydon, a witness said.

A 17-year-old boy who knew the victim has been arrested over the attack which took place in Wellesley Road at around 8.30am.

Flowers and cards have been left near the scene and the girl’s school paid tribute to its “valued friend and pupil”.

Anthony King, chairman of My Ends – a project helping combat youth violence in Croydon – was with the girl’s family after the incident and said they were “heartbroken”.

“She had a bright future ahead of her,” he said. “She was in her GCSE year.”

He described the girl as an “absolutely incredible young lady” and told of how others said she was “jovial, very comedic”.

Floral tributes at the scene in Croydon
Floral tributes at the scene in Croydon (Lucy North/PA)

One of the cards left near to where the attack took place read: “Sorry we live in this crazy world this makes no sense.

“Fly high up there my mummy will look after you. RIP beautiful, forever young, taken too soon.

“Thoughts and prayers are with your family and friends, God bless.”

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley visited the scene and 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.”

Two parked police cars and a red double decker bus with a forensic tent in the background.
Emergency services at the scene near the Whitgift shopping centre in Croydon, south London (Jordan Reynolds/PA)

Mr King said the arrested boy had been known to local community groups for the past couple of years.

The girl was a pupil at Old Palace of John Whitgift School, a private girls’ school in Croydon.

The school released a statement that said: “We are deeply shocked by the senseless and tragic death of our 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.”

The girl was a pupil of The Old Palace of John Whitgift School in Croydon
The girl was a pupil of The Old Palace of John Whitgift School in Croydon (PA)

Security worker Victor Asare told the PA news agency that blood ran “like water” and members of the public rushed to help after the girl was attacked.

Mr Asare said: “The blood was coming like water. A lot of people came, everyone came off the bus.

“(The suspect) ran away. 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.

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

Mr Asare said the girl, who was wearing a green school blazer, looked as if she “didn’t want the boy to come closer” before she was stabbed in the neck with a knife that was “black, thin and about a foot long”.

Emergency services were called to Wellesley Road at around 8.30am but the girl was pronounced dead at the scene 50 minutes later.

Forensic investigators at the scene near the Whitgift shopping centre
Forensic investigators at the scene near the Whitgift shopping centre (Lucy North/PA)

A bus driver and a passer-by were seen desperately trying to save the girl before emergency services arrived, with police at the scene within two minutes.

A mother of two, who wanted to be named only as 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.”

She said two other schoolgirls, believed to be the victim’s friends, were trying to get through the police cordon but were held back.

James Watkins, from Mainz World – which runs prevention and intervention projects for children and young people, was with the girl’s family at the scene between 9am and 10am.

He said: “They were devastated and I would say more importantly in shock, I don’t think it feels real for them.”

Chief Superintendent Andy Brittain speaking at the scene of the fatal stabbing
Chief Superintendent Andy Brittain speaking at the scene of the fatal stabbing (Lucy North/PA)

A red double decker bus on route 60, three police vehicles and about a dozen officers, as well as a forensics tent, could be seen in the taped off area outside the Whitgift Centre.

Met Police Chief Superintendent Andy Brittain said: “This is every parent’s worst nightmare, and I know the officers who responded this morning, along with our emergency service colleagues, are devastated at the victim’s death.

“This is an emotion I share and I know people across Croydon will be feeling the same.

“The victim’s family has been informed and our thoughts are with them at what must be an incredibly difficult time.”

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said he was “absolutely heartbroken” at the news of the girl’s death.

Witnesses or anyone with information can contact police on 101 quoting reference CAD 1601/27Sep, and to remain anonymous can contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 or online.