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Grieving parents spearhead launch of Brent Council’s anti-knife crime campaign

PUBLISHED: 10:15 17 October 2018 | UPDATED: 10:15 17 October 2018

Quamari's parents and festival organisers Paul Barnes and Lillian Serunkuma  (Picture: Nathalie Raffray)

Quamari's parents and festival organisers Paul Barnes and Lillian Serunkuma (Picture: Nathalie Raffray)

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The parents of two murdered teenage boys have got behind a new campaign by Brent Council urging youths not to carry knives.

Vanessa Hyman continues to seek justice for her son Anton, fatally stabbed and shot on Mother's Day 2004  (Picture: Nathalie Raffray)Vanessa Hyman continues to seek justice for her son Anton, fatally stabbed and shot on Mother's Day 2004 (Picture: Nathalie Raffray)

Quamari Serunkuma Barnes, 15, was stabbed to death outside Capital City Academy in Willesden in January 2017.

His 15-year-old killer is now behind bars.

And Anton Hyman, 17, was found stabbed and shot in River Brent on Mother’s Day in 2004. His killer is still unaccounted
for.

The “Brent needs you alive” campaign launched this week with a video of the three parents at the centre of the appeal.

Brent Council's new anti-knife crime campaign. Picture: Brent CouncilBrent Council's new anti-knife crime campaign. Picture: Brent Council

It highlights the devastating consequences of knife crime as experienced and told by these grieving parents.

Quamari’s mother, Lillian Serunkuma, told the Brent & Kilburn Times: “Knife crime is becoming such an issue in our society and we have got to get the message across to our young people that knives destroy two sets of lives – the victims’ and also the perpetrators’.

“Both sets of families suffer. So the message is simple: don’t carry a knife.”

She added: “A lot of time is spent talking about the problem and not implementing anything. Brent recognises that it needs to do some work.

“They are not hiding behind doing nothing, they are instead getting their hands out and trying to make some changes.”

Paul Barnes, Quamari’s father, told us: “It’s been a privilege to spearhead this campaign with Lillian and [Anton’s mother] Vanessa [Hyman].

“This campaign is perfect as it goes with hand in hand with the memorial festival for Quamari in July.”

He added: “We need as much help as we can get – especially as the problem out there is not going away any time soon.”

In the video, Vanessa warns: “A lot of these children are saying it’s to save their own life but how do you work that out?

“That same knife could turn around and be what kills you.”

Cllr Tom Miller, Brent’s lead member for stronger communities, said knife crime “destroys both lives on both ends of the blade”, adding: “Our message to those who are carrying knives or thinking about doing so is clear – it does not protect you.

“In fact, it puts you in more danger.

“Make the right choice – carrying a knife could destroy your life.”

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