CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Mother of stab victim had appealed for help to save 15-year-old son from grips of gang

Insight into the struggles of parents whose children are caught up in gang violence

09 May, 2018 — By William McLennan

Teen lucky to be alive after Somers Town stabbing

A MOTHER whose 15-year-old son was savagely attacked with a hunting knife has said her desperate pleas for help to escape postcode gang violence had been ignored for months.

Amanda Gay’s son was stabbed seven times in Somers Town, with a “Rambo-style” hunting knife puncturing his lung and severing tendons in his leg as it passed through his thigh.

He narrowly avoided becoming the fifth Camden youngster to be stabbed to death this year.

“My worst fear came true, receiving that call that every parent dreads,” Ms Gay told the New Journal. “I cannot describe the horror I experienced.”

She said her son was “lucky to be alive” after the attack on April 20, adding: “They weren’t mucking about, they went for his main arteries and his heart.” He underwent a seven-hour operation to his leg and remains in hospital.

Her account offers a rare insight into the struggles of parents who are trying to free their children from the grip of gang culture, while raising questions about the level of support on offer.

Knowing her son was getting caught up in territorial disputes, involving young men and teenage boys from neighbourhoods in Camden, Islington and Hackney, Ms Gay sought help from the council in recent months, but found their response lacking.

She said: “I’m going through hell. I need help now. When I went to social services, I thought I’d get the help I need. I feel if I had been heard from the beginning and moved away this could have been prevented. There has to be a different system, surely, for parents willing to move away.”

Ms Gay had moved to emergency accommodation on an estate in Enfield that was due to be demolished at the end of last year, but was forced to return to Camden.

She said the flat was a short distance from an area known as “wheelie road”, where moped gangs go to practise their bike- handling skills.

“I didn’t want to live around here anymore. I wanted to go before something bad happens. As a mother, you know, you can just see it coming. I had to go back to danger and now he’s been stabbed.”

With no safe accommodation arranged nearly two weeks after the attack, Ms Gay was forced to go back to her home with her two other children this week.

On the night they returned, a group of youngsters turned up outside on mopeds, before posting taunts on social media and vandalising a neighbour’s motorbike.

In July last year, Ms Gay had a shocking insight into the gang rivalry as she walked along Tottenham Court Road with her eldest son.

She said: “They pulled up on the pavement on their mopeds. They were like: ‘Yo, have we got beef?’ They had us against the wall. They were threatening us.”

Ms Gay said that she accepted her son must take some responsibility.

“I’m not saying it’s not partly his fault, he’s put himself in this situation. I’m not making excuses for him, because he’s a little git.

“I’ve been very honest with social services, I’ve always been co-operative.”

The family had previously been supported by social services, but she said they were “signed off ” two years ago.

“I begged them to stay in our lives as I feared the worst and didn’t want them losing the best mentors. After a long year fighting I got social services back.”

She said that social workers and the Youth Offending Team who are involved now have been “fantastic”, but added: “The system has to change.”

Police, Camden Council and youth services are attempting to get to grips with soaring levels of knife crime. The number of stab victims aged 25 and under rose throughout last year, increasing to 94 from 49 in 2016.

It has claimed the lives of four young men from Camden aged 20 and under since February. The rate of violence has risen quicker in Camden than elsewhere in London and police believe it is mainly fuelled by “gang disputes and rivalry”.

Camden Council said in a statement: “The council is working hard to help resolve the safety issues that the family are experiencing. They are set to move into temporary accommodation out of the borough this week, having previously also occupied temporary accommodation out of Camden at their request. We continue to also work with the family to secure a permanent housing solution for them.”

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