‘I’m going to build a legacy’: Jodie Chesney’s dad determined to celebrate daughter’s life on anniversary of Harold Hill murder
- Credit: Archant
A year after Havering – and the entire country – was rocked by the fatal stabbing of Jodie Chesney, her dad says he is determined to create a legacy for his daughter with a charity that will work to stop knife crime murders like hers from ever happening again.
Jodie was stabbed in the back when hanging out with friends in Amy's Park, just off St Neot's Road on March 1, 2019.
The 17-year-old Girl Scout from Dagenham was studying her A-Levels at Havering Sixth Form College and was a few weeks away from achieving her Gold Duke of Edinburgh award before she died.
Speaking days before the anniversary of Jodie's death, Peter Chesney said the stabbing "could not have happened to a nicer girl".
He told the Recorder: "Jodie was incredible as a person.
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"She was always there for other people and that's why it was so tragic that this thing happened to her."
Four teenagers were arrested for Jodie's murder and stood trial at the Old Bailey in September.
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Peter said he found attending court too difficult and only went four times during the trial.
"It didn't take long for me to realise that it was just killing me," said the grieving dad.
"Six hours a day listening to them lie and wriggle out of this thing - it was just too difficult.
"I had to make a decision and I thought, would Jodie really want me to be torturing myself like this in front of these killers?"
It took a jury less than six hours to find Svenson Ong-a-Kwie, 19, and Aaron Isaacs, 17, guilty of her murder.
Peter said: "The thing is with the verdict, the first two got off and she read those first - 'not guilty, not guilty' - and I'm biting the back of my hand, like please, come on.
"And then it was 'guilty, guilty, Isaacs, Sevenson'.
"I was so elated, it was unbelievable. There were tears. Even the [police] and my family liaison officer were crying.
"It was just so emotional. But we got justice, so it's of some solace that they are in prison now.
"I can't imagine what it would feel like if we didn't catch them."
After Jodie's death Havering was bathed in a sea of purple as people paid tribute to the young Scout with her favourite colour.
"It's touched people's hearts, because people know who she was and she was so innocent," said Peter.
"If it could happen to Jodie, my girl, who has done absolutely nothing to deserve this, then it could happen to anybody.
"I see purple ribbons around locally, and it's great. People are not just putting them there, they're replacing them."
It was revealed during the trial that Svenson, a drug dealer from Collier Row, went to Amy's Park for revenge on a rival group.
Peter agreed with the Judge's conclusion that drugs had been the main cause of the attack.
He said: "It was mistaken identity. The guy went to 'bang out his ops' - bang out the opposition.
"People say she was in the wrong place at the wrong time, I say she was in the right place at the right time and they were in the wrong place. "She did nothing wrong, there was no reason for her not to be there.
"There's always going to be drug wars, but it's spilling out to innocent people like this.
"We want to try and prevent it, we're part of the solution."
Peter started the Jodie Chesney Foundation, a charity that aims to prevent fatal violence by knives and provide support for the victims.
One of the charity's projects is its "lighting up parks" initiative.
"If Amy's Park was lit this wouldn't have happened," said Peter. "If you've got an area that is there for kids to sit - light it up.
"It's about trying to minimise this thing from ever happening again.
"I'm going to build a legacy for Jodie and it's going to be big."
Peter received the call from police that Jodie had been hurt when he was out celebrating his birthday in London.
On the anniversary of her death he plans to return to Amy's Park to place flowers where the tragic incident happened.
He said: "I'm going to try and celebrate rather than commiserate.
"I try and do things that she would want me to do.
"She's not going to want me to sit there crying my eyes out and being miserable.
"I want to try and celebrate her life, never mind my birthday, [I want to] thank the time that we had with her."
It's difficult for Jodie's dad to return to Amy's Park but he's pleased that the council and volunteers have used the colour purple to renovate the park.
Speaking about the impact the loss has had on his family, Peter said: "It's ruined our lives.
"But I'm picking myself up and trying to move forward with her [by] building this legacy with the Jodie Chesney Foundation.
"We've done so much work in the background. No one really knows about us yet, but they're going to.
"We're working with City Hall and we've met Sadiq Khan, all of the local councillors - Havering, Redbridge - and they're all on board.
"Watch this space because, because we're going to make some real changes."
Visit the Jodie Chesney Foundation website to find out more.