Opinion: Solidarity with the family

MP Barry Gardiner attended the memorial for Bibaa Henry and Nicola Smallman.

MP Barry Gardiner attended the memorial for Bibaa Henry and Nicola Smallman. - Credit: Archant

Last week our community came together in an act of grief, of tribute and of unity.

We gathered at the top of Gotfords Hill in Fryent Country Park. For many of the 200 or so people who attended, this was the first time they had felt able to visit the park since the ghastly murder of the two sisters, Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman.

Their mother Wilhelmina, had written a moving tribute to her two beautiful and talented daughters and gave even those of us who did not know them, a window into the joy of their lives. Prayers, cleansing and reclaiming the park, were led by the Bishop of Willesden, Pete Broadbent.

Local vicar Natasha Woodward, who had convened the event, conducted the service; and I spoke of the way that the murders had defiled two full and love-filled lives, the Smallman family, and our whole community.

And as we laid our flowers in silent tribute, all of us there expressed our solidarity with the family against the evil that has struck them and our determination not to let the horror infect our love of that ancient and beautiful space at the heart of our borough. The family members had come to visit the park two days earlier to pay their respects and they had specifically asked that the park should not be remembered as a place of horror, but as a place of peace and beauty.

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There are serious concerns about the initial police response and the ghoulish release of photographs which I have raised with the borough commander and these are now subject to separate investigation by the Independent Office of Police Conduct.

The day was not the occasion to dwell upon those. But all of us present felt a real sense of relief that a man had earlier been arrested in connection with the murders.

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We pray that justice is served and that Bibaa and Nicole may rest in peace.

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