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Council apologises over pensioner's death

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Leocardo Loney
LDRS
Leocardo Loney died in October 2017

Brent Council has apologised for the “untimely" death of a man with dementia who went missing from a care home.

Leocardo Loney, 82, was found dead in a hedge after disappearing from Willow House Extra Care Housing in Wembley in October 2017.

An inquest into his death found that the council’s social services department, which had placed Mr Loney in Willow House, was partly responsible.

West London Coroner’s Court heard how Mr Loney had left the facility unaccompanied on several occasions before his death and had been located as far away as Heathrow Airport and by the side of the M1 motorway.

Staff at Willow House had voiced their concerns to the council about his safety, but coroner Dr Sean Cummings described its response as “cumulatively languid”.

He said the council was fixated on providing the least restrictive measures as opposed to protecting Mr Loney’s wellbeing.

A spokesperson for Brent Council said: “We are deeply sorry about the untimely death of Mr Loney and we have offered the family our deepest apologies and condolences.

“Despite his advancing dementia Mr Loney was happy and social and enjoyed where he lived very much.

“Everybody involved in caring for Mr Loney worked tirelessly to strike a balance between keeping him safe and exploring the community which was one of the main things that made him happy.

“This is a challenging area of work. In response to the tragic circumstances of Mr Loney’s death we will continue to work with relevant partners so that every lesson is learned, every risk understood, and every step is taken to ensure, as far as possible, that this does not happen again.”

Mr Loney’s daughters, Marie Loney and Denise Dooley, said in a statement: “Some very worrying issues have been raised at the hearing and we now hope that local authorities learn lessons from Dad’s case in order to prevent other families facing what we have.

“It is absolutely vital that those with dementia and other vulnerable people can always access the care and support that they need.”

'Losing Jodie is like losing half of myself' - Sister

Following the verdict, Jodie’s sister Lucy Chesney said she is now "dreading my life rather than looking forward to it".

In a victim impact statement she wrote:

Jodie was not only my sister she was my best friend. Losing her is like losing half of myself. We went through everything together and she was always there for me and always putting everyone before herself. She gave me a type of love I will never feel again.

Lucy ChesneyJodie Chesney's sister

'Jodie's murder has destroyed my life' - Peter Chesney

Peter Chesney
PA Media

In an impact statement, Jodie Chesney's father said his daughter's murder had "destroyed my life".

"The full extent as to how this has affected my family and me cannot possibly be explained simply in words.

"I have no idea how I am going to continue with my life or even come to terms with the loss," he said.

Police release photo of Svenson Ong-a-Kwie

Svenson Ong-a-Kwie
Met Police

Polcie have released a mug shot of Svenson Ong-a-Kwie, one of the two people found guilty of Jodie Chesney's murder.

'They don't care about the lives ruined'

Tributes at park
PA Media

Case officer Det Insp Perry Benton said only the people in the car "know why they went there".

"They are drug dealers. It's a business to them.

"They don't care about the lives ruined, whether it is class A or class B," he said.

It's a mystery why Jodie was killed - police

Speaking about the case, DCI Dave Whellams said it remains a mystery why Jodie Chesney was killed.

"Svenson was wanting retribution on someone dealing on his turf. He has gone down to the park with (the 17-year-old) to cause some harm to somebody.

"Quite why it was Jodie, we don't really know.

"There is talk it could be another female drug dealer that operated in the park."

The two killers: The 17-year-old 'runner'

The 17-year-old boy who was also found guilty of Jodie's Chesney murder had been acting as a "runner" for Svenson Ong-a-Kwie.

He had a difficult upbringing and was taken into care at a young age after his mother suffered from mental illness and was unable to cope.

He left school without any qualifications. Prosecutor Crispin Aylett QC said he was not a "star child... but perhaps he has never really had the chance to be one".

It was alleged in court the 17-year-old was responsible for stabbing another youth last September, when Ong-a-Kwie was also present.

The 17-year-old had a conviction for actual bodily harm and possessing a pointed article following an incident involving a shopkeeper and a screwdriver.

He also had a conviction for possession of a kitchen knife.

The two killers: Svenson Ong-a-Kwie

Court drawing
Julia Quenzler

Svenson Ong-a-Kwie, 19, also known as Spencer, was a "charismatic and charming" cannabis dealer - with a fondness for carrying knives, the trial heard.

He ran a drugs line, sending texts to hundreds of customers advertising cocaine and "pineapple express" cannabis - so-called after the Seth Rogan movie.

Ong-a-Kwie was identified as Jodie's stabber, although he blamed his 17-year-old "runner" for the attack.

In October last year, Ong-a-Kwie was stabbed in the thigh and, according to his 17-year-old co-defendant, was looking for the culprits on the day of the murder.

Ong-a-Kwie had convictions for possessing cocaine and cannabis and failure to surrender to custody from when he was 16.

In April 2017, he admitted dealing cocaine after being caught with wraps of the class A drug and a knife.

In October last year, he also pleaded guilty to two charges of handling stolen goods.

Watch: Two found guilty of Jodie Chesney's murder

'Jodie was one of our brightest and best'

Jodie Chesney
Jodie Chesney/Instagram

Jodie Chesney had been an active Scout member and Chief Scout Bear Grylls described her as "one of our brightest and best".

Writing in support of the Jodie Chesney Foundation website he said "she put everything into life and her dedication to her friends, her family, to Scouts and her community was incredible.

"When she represented us at the Royal Albert Hall at the Annual Festival of Remembrance, we could not have hoped for a better ambassador for the movement.

"Now's it's our turn to remember her."

'Jodie's infectious laugh would light up any room'

Jodie Chesney
Chesney family

The teenager's father Peter set up a charity, the Jodie Chesney Foundation, aimed at taking action to steer young people away from knife crime.

In a tribute on its website, Mr Chesney described his daughter as a "beautiful person" who was just "blossoming into a wonderful young woman".

"She was a beautiful, well-liked, fun young woman who judged no-one and loved everyone.

"As a little girl she was very shy, but her confidence grew from strength to strength as she got older," he wrote.

He added that "she wore her heart on her sleeve and her infectious laugh would light up any room".

'I don't know why Jodie died' - Det Ch Insp Whellams

Jodie Chesney
PA Media

Det Ch Insp Dave Whellams, who investigated Jodie Chesney's murder, described the 17-year-old as a typical "girl next door".

He said the teenager's family were "absolutely devastated" and found hearing details about her death "extremely traumatic".

"They lived the investigation with us. They want answers to questions I can't give them. Why did this happen? I cannot give them a satisfactory answer because I don't know myself.

"The devastation will continue, it's something, as a parent, you don't recover from," he said.

Two found guilty of Jodie Chesney's murder

Svenson Ong-a-Kwie, 19, and a 17-year-old boy who cannot be named have been convicted of killing Jodie Chesney in a park in east London.

Ambulance made emergency stop after hit by firework

An ambulance driver on his way to a call was forced to put on his brakes after a lit firework thrown at a car exploded, "sending the brightly coloured projectiles showering onto the windscreen".

A spokesman for the service said the incident on Saturday night near Finsbury Park involved a group of youths, one of whom threw the firework.

The ambulance wasn't damaged apart from some residue on its windscreen.

The paramedic behind the wheel said: "This was a close call for me and my crewmates as a firework was aimed towards our ambulance and exploded as I drove on blue lights and sirens to an incident.

"Behaviour like this causes accidents and endangers people's lives - ours included."

After making the emergency stop the crew composed themselves before heading on.

Jacob Rees-Mogg on the Grenfell fire
Jacob Rees-Mogg says he would "leave a burning building" no matter what the fire brigade advice was.

Domestic abuse in London at 'epidemic levels'

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Stock image depicting a woman protecting herself
Getty Images

Domestic abuse has reached “epidemic levels” in London, and more funding is needed to tackle the problem, experts have said.

There were 85,000 reports of domestic abuse in the capital last year, with almost 67,000 so far this year.

In 2018, 29 murders were linked to domestic violence in London, up from just nine in 2017.

Niki Scordi, chief executive of London domestic abuse charity Advance, said domestic abuse was “definitely a rising issue”.

Speaking at the London Assembly’s police and crime committee yesterday, she said: “The number of those suffering from domestic abuse are at epidemic levels.

“Nationally we still have two million people every year who suffer from domestic abuse, at least one in four women who will experience it in their life time and one in five women who will suffer it or live with it, and at least two women killed every week by a current or ex partner.”

Ms Scordi said services across London were “very patchy” and there was not enough focus on this type of crime from local authorities and police.

Susan Jacob, chief executive of UK-wide domestic abuse charity SafeLives, said the amount of time victims spent in an abusive relationship was rising.

Black women are likely to stay in abusive relationships for longer, and more likely to be placed in a shelter than supported in their own home, she said.

But Ngozi Headley-Fulani, founder of Sistah Space, a domestic abuse charity for women of African and Caribbean heritage, said her community was not represented by those making decisions.

She said: “Black women are suffering and dying from domestic abuse, and nobody is listening. It has to change now. “Our community is not going to the police – there is no trust there. We don’t see ourselves reflected anywhere.”