Page last updated at 14:26 GMT, Saturday, 5 July 2008 15:26 UK

Stabbed boy's parents thank woman

Shakilus Townsend

The parents of a 16-year-old knife victim have paid an emotional thank you to a woman who scared off his attackers and desperately tried to save him.

Shakilus Townsend's mother Nicola Dyer and father Derek visited the scene of their son's death in Thornton Heath, south London, on Friday night.

They and other relatives thanked Sharon Simpson, 47, for her brave actions.

Shakilus was repeatedly stabbed and beaten with a baseball bat in Beulah Crescent on Thursday afternoon.

'Planned and targeted'

No suspects have been arrested over the killing.

He is the 18th teenager to be shot or stabbed to death in London this year.

Ms Simpson said: "There was crying and pain. They said he was a very happy guy, he was nice."

She said she saw two teenage boys, whose faces were covered, beating Shakilus with a baseball bat and kicking and punching him as he lay on the ground last Thursday.

"I said to them don't slap him, don't hit him at all. I said leave him alone," she said.

He was a well behaved and mannered boy, he just didn't deserve it at all
Shakilus's stepmother

She said she ran outside, which caused the attackers to flee, giving her the opportunity to try and save Shakilus.

"The only thing he was talking about was his mum and that he didn't want to die. He knew he was going to die but I couldn't help him," she said.

She said she saw a tall man looking on as the two teenagers with covered faces beat Shakilus.

Police described the incident as a "planned and targeted attack" by a group of four youths wearing hooded tops and bandanas.

Floral tributes have been left at the scene, with messages from his cousin Kayreesha, his aunt Diana, and Ben Morris, a fellow pupil from Rosendale Primary School, which they both used to attend.

Shakilus's stepmother, who asked not to be named, called for violent teenagers to be forced to join the army and be "sent to Iraq" following her stepson's death.

Map showing  the location of the murder

She also said the 75 extra Met officers deployed to tackle knife crime were a "drop in the ocean".

Remembering Shakilus, she said: "He was a very good boy, doing what teenagers do, not what thugs do.

"He was a well behaved and mannered boy. He just didn't deserve it at all. He had the cheekiest smile."

A Metropolitan Police spokesman confirmed they were following one line of enquiry that the attack could have been sparked by a row over a girl.

Police said Shakilus was approached by four people just before he was attacked, three boys and one girl.

Retrace steps

The girl, who was black and in her mid-teens, was wearing a floral dress.

Scotland Yard said today it was not yet clear whether she knew Shakilus or what her role was in the run-up to the attack.

Robert Temple, who was among the neighbours who tried to save Shakilus, said he found a knife believed to have been used in the attack in the driveway at the front of the flats which he picked up in a handkerchief and handed to police.

A book of condolence has been opened at nearby Beulah Family Church.

Shakilus's father plans to retrace the steps his son had taken before he died.

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