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Mother of murdered schoolboy Shakilus Townsend tells gangsters to make a 'choice'
The mother of a murdered schoolboy warned young gangsters about the dangers of a gang lifestyle last night.
Shakilus Townsend, 16, from Deptford in south-east London died in Thornton Heath in 2008 after being beaten with baseball bats and stabbed six times by a gang.
His mother Nicole Dyer addressed 16 Enfield people aged 12 to 19 at the borough's fourth gang call-in at Wood Green Crown Court in Lordship Lane.
She said: “My son, he had a few problems – he got into trouble with the law but he went away and made a choice that he was going to try his hardest to do the right things and that is what he did.
“Unfortunately, one day, a gang made a choice that they would plot to kill him and that is what happened. He died, and he didn’t have a choice.”
The youths, from Get Money Gang, Dem Africans and The Gully Crew, were invited to attend the call-in and given a chance to sign up to schemes including job centres, apprenticeships and housing support to help them escape gang culture.
They were shown graphic images of injuries sustained as a consequence of the gang lifestyle and warned that they could end up on the operating table if they don’t soon end their ways.
A surgeon was expected to address the boys, but he was called to operate on a victim of a stabbing in south London.
Ex-gang member Jermaine Lawlor and Pastor Des Brown who was sent to jail aged 17 for murder told the boys to make the difficult decision and leave the gangs.
Steve Hodgson anti-social behaviour manager at Enfield Borough Council reminded the boys that they are never going to “beat” the 32,000-strong gang of the metropolitan police.
Ms Dyer said: “I made a choice to come and speak to you today, not because it can bring back my child but because you have a choice – you are here because you have a choice to make – choose and change your life.
“I would do anything to bring my son back but if I had to make a choice I would choose for him to be dead rather than him to have killed someone and I would make that choice again and again.”
Ms Dyer said it took Shakilus ten hours to die, and the doctors brought him back to life on the operating table twice before his death.
She said she knows what it is like to get a knock at 4am from police officers saying her child has died, and wants to prevent it from happening to another family.
She accepted gang members may feel that they are part of a family, but said her family was her children and it will "never ever" be complete again.
One boy was reprimanded by inspector Jim Clune at the start of the 5.30pm session for laughing.
However, the youths, who were sat in the docks, were stunned into silence by the images and the passionate speeches.
The judge told the boys that if they return to court having committed a gang-related offence, they will go to prison.
Enfield carried out the first gang call-in in the country in February after the first were delivered in Boston and Glasgow.