‘If I knew the signs, maybe my son would be alive’: Harold Hill mum of fatally stabbed teenager urges parents to beware gangs grooming children
- Credit: Archant
The mother of a teenager who was stabbed to death has spoken of her regret at not seeing the signs of gang elders grooming her son.
Champion Ganda died in the street after he was stabbed 11 times in an attack involving belts, a hammer and a knife in Sandringham Road, Forest Gate, in May 2013.
His mum, Peguy Kato, from Harold Hill, recalling the moment she found out her 17-year old son was dead, said: “Everything was dark.
“I never knew how the end of the world was going to be, but that day I felt it. I was screaming in the police station.
“He loved me so much. And then I called ‘Champion’. But he never woke up. He didn’t hear me. I never saw him.”
Peguy urged parents to speak to their children to avoid others suffering the same ordeal.
“We send them to school, to church. We give them our values, which is good. But the outside world is different. Only your child can come to you and say, ‘Mum, these people are after me.’
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“But if that son cannot come to you, you are missing a lot. I missed a lot in my son’s life. And I lost my son. So today, I’m standing up, talking to parents, not to make the same mistake I did, because my mistake made not only me suffer, but all my family suffer.”
Drug dealer Amani Lynch, who was 16 at the time of the attack, was sentenced to 14 years after being found guilty of manslaughter at an Old Bailey trial in 2017.
Peguy described Champion as a “loving” boy who cared a lot for his family.
Keen on football, at the age of eight he played for Arsenal and Tottenham’s junior squads.
“He is the only child I have who loved to say sorry,” Peguy said. “He seemed like a man, protecting everyone, but he was a baby. He would make you laugh. He just wanted to be happy with everyone.”
But Peguy suspects Champion got mixed up in a gang and to prevent another needless death, shared her advice on spotting the signs of grooming.
This might include a child coming home with expensive, new trainers or designer clothes and behaving differently.
“I was blind. I saw small things like that. But I never noticed. But I think it was the beginning of something. If I knew the signs, maybe my son would be alive now,” Peguy said.
Det Insp Iain Wallace, who is in charge of Newham and Waltham Forest’s gangs unit, admitted that back when Champion lost his life, officers weren’t as good at speaking to parents and that needed to improve.
The father of three said it was crucial for officers to have early and honest conversations with mums and dads when children come to police attention.
Det Insp Wallace explained that gang elders trap youngsters by giving them money they later demand back as a debt. Drill music, videos and TV series also fuel the problem by glamorising gang life.
He said the only real way to stop gangs and violence is for parents, schools, local authorities, charities, communities and the police to work together, which is a joint approach he and his team are pursuing.
But he stressed the importance of early intervention, with police usually meeting children at a late stage which makes it harder to divert them away from gangs.
However, officers are visiting parents and youngsters to offer routes out of trouble, on top of targeting gang leaders. And the police are keen to work with organisations, including All Champions Charity which Peguy set up in her son’s name to support people affected by gangs and violence.
For Peguy, the message is simple: “Learn to communicate. I learnt after my son’s death. I learnt from my pain. But you can learn before something happens. Your son can only come to you if you let him, if you listen to him.”
To anonymously report suspected gang activity visit fearless.org