Harold Hill stabbing: Jodie Chesney, 17, dies in park attack

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Image copyright Facebook/Family photo
Image caption Police said Jodie Chesney died at the scene

A 17-year-old girl has been stabbed to death at a park in east London.

Jodie Chesney's grandmother said in a Facebook appeal that the stabbing - on Friday night in Harold Hill, Romford - had been an "unprovoked attack".

Jodie died at the scene, in St Neots Road, at about 21:30 GMT.

The Metropolitan Police confirmed Jodie's identity, but no arrests have yet been made. Jodie's next-of-kin have been informed and post-mortem tests are due to be held.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Jodie was found dead in a park on Friday night

On Facebook, Jodie's grandmother Debbie Chesney wrote: "How have we come to this point where kids can't have a walk in a park without suffering an unprovoked attack?

"If anyone knows anything about this please contact the police with information. We don't want anyone else to go through what our family is suffering right now. This has to stop, there are too many young people having their lives cut short by needless violence."

Image caption A playground in the park has been the focus of forensic invesitgations

Jodie's death comes less than a week after 20-year-old Ché Morrison was stabbed to death outside Ilford train station in east London .

Police have sealed off the park and forensic officers are at the scene.

One resident, whose flat overlooks the park, said she rushed out after her family heard a commotion and tried to help Jodie as she lay bleeding.

A small group of people cried and hugged each other after laying a bunch of flowers at the cordon with the message "we love you forever in our hearts."

Another message attached to a floral tribute said: "You are so strong. We will always remember you."

Image caption Flowers were left at the scene, with one message reading 'RIP Angel'
Image copyright PA

Hairdresser Ellie Best, 17, said she and her family had moved to Harold Hill from east London for the "good strong community".

She said: "No-one should have to get a call to say that their child has been killed.

"It is becoming more and more like central London here. Children did not fight or anything and you did not hear of people being mugged. There has never been knife crime here before - it is just in the last six or seven months.

"I worry for the younger youths. Police need to talk to them about the dangers of carrying knives because the message is not getting through."

Miss Best said the park was used by local children to "just hang out".

One woman told the BBC the stabbing highlighted "one of the issues we have in Havering - community are not reporting what they're seeing, therefore Havering is not seen as an area of concern".

Image caption Under-reporting of crime was an issue in Havering, one woman said

Jodie is the first teenage girl to die in a homicide in the capital this year.

She became the 18th person to be killed in London this year, and the fifth teenager to die.

Last year , two 17-year-old girls and one 18-year-old woman were murdered in London.

Acting Det Ch Supt John Ross, of the Met, described the latest death as a "tragedy" and said police would carry out extra patrols around Harold Hill "in the coming days".

Image copyright PA
Image caption Police officers search near the scene on St Neots Road in Harold Hill, Romford

He also said there had been a reduction in knife crime since the middle of last year, particularly in relation to people aged under 25.

"But we are not complacent, bearing down on violent crime in the streets of London is a top priority for the Met," he said.

Urging potential witnesses to come forward, he added: "Your information could take a knife off the street or save a life."

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he was "devastated" by the stabbing.

Mr Khan, who has a 17-year-old daughter himself, urged members of the community to contact police.

Video caption Sadiq Khan said he was "devastated" by the death

Councillor Paul McGeary, who represents the Gooshays ward where the killing happened, arrived with fellow councillor Tele Lawal to lay flowers at the scene.

The park is known locally as Amy's Park, with a playground in the centre, which has been the focus of forensics investigations.

Both councillors said they and their families had used the park, which is in a residential area.

Mr McGeary spoke of his "shock and horror" that it had happened in the semi-rural outer London borough.

'Tackle violence'

He said: "This is not something that happens here and I am just completely surprised."

He could not say if it was gang-related, but described it as "tragic".

He added: "It is very shocking for the whole community. I think people will be talking to each other and hopefully providing support to the relatives of the unfortunate person who died."

Ms Lawal, 22, said: "It is not an area where you will frequently see violence like this.

"It is going to shock our community but it just shows the strain that is happening with young people, with our police and the resources we need in our community to tackle violence like this."

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A resident who lives opposite the park, who did not know Jodie, described her death as "a terrible thing".

He said: "She was just 17 and just starting her life. How could anyone do that to a woman? It is disgusting. It is happening a lot in London lately. It is becoming a normal thing and that is terrifying."

MP for Hornchurch and Upminster in Havering Julia Lopez described the attack as "utterly senseless".

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