Beds, Herts & Bucks

Boy stabbed in Luton park days before 18th birthday

Michael Simwanza
Image caption Michael Simwanza had won school mathematics prizes

The family of a 17-year-old boy fatally stabbed in Luton have revealed he died four days before his 18th birthday.

Michael Simwanza, from Farley Hill, was stabbed in Kingsway Recreational Ground on 30 October and died in hospital.

He came to the UK from Zambia with his family when he was six and was studious, loving and respectful with a good sense of humour, they said.

A boy, 17, who cannot be named, has appeared at Luton magistrates charged with Michael's murder.

Michael, who would have been 18 on 3 November, leaves his mother, Julie Bwalya, 15-year-old brother Francis and sister Lily, four.

He had gone to St Josephs Junior School in Luton and then attended John F Kennedy School in Hemel Hempstead, where he won the bronze Leeds Mathematical Challenge award each year.

'Very academic'

"We were extremely proud of Michael," said Ms Bwalya.

"He was very academic and really enjoyed school.

"He wanted to study engineering and enjoyed playing football games on his computer.

"He was an extremely loving and polite young man with a great smile.

"His little sister Lily doesn't understand that he won't be coming home."

On Michael's birthday, Ms Bwalya and the rest of the large, extended family visited a small shrine that has been placed on a bench in St George's Square, in the centre of Luton, by his friends.

In recent days, the unofficial shrine has grown as many more people have added flowers, messages and pictures.

"This showed us how many people cared about him," said Ms Bwalya.

She said she wished to thank a man who she believed held Michael while he was injured.

"The knowledge that Michael was not alone is of great comfort to me and my family."

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