Page last updated at 17:27 GMT, Friday, 20 June 2008 18:27 UK

Family tributes to 'gentle giant'

By Matt Prodger
BBC News, Lee, south-east London


Jimmy Mizen's coffin
Jimmy Mizen's coffin was carried by his brothers
The hearse carried his body down the street he walked along every day.

At the bakery where Jimmy Mizen died a violent death, the mourners paused, and balloons were released into the sky.

The bakery, like the shops beside it, was closed; the only item in the window display a framed picture of the 16-year-old schoolboy.

At the head of the cortege, walked his parents, Barry and Margaret, and his siblings. They slowly made their way to a church in which they have prayed for many years.

It was Jimmy's brothers - Danny, Billy, Tommy, Bobby, Harry and nephew James - who took the coffin on their shoulders. But an entire community bore the grief.

They spilled from the church onto the street outside: school friends, neighbours, a legion of people touched by a needless death.

His mother rested her head on his father's chest and wept as the cortege paused outside.

Mother's grief

The youngest of his six brothers, eight-year-old George, carried a picture of Jimmy as he led the mourners into Our Lady of Lourdes Roman Catholic Church.

Dozens of pupils from Jimmy's school - Thomas More Catholic Comprehensive in Eltham - formed an honour guard at the entrance to the church. Friends carried 16 candles, one for every year of his life.

His mother said she wanted this to be a celebration of Jimmy's life. The mourners wore casual clothes; his brothers had grafittied "The Mizen Team" on the back pockets of their jeans. Coldplay played on the PA system.

Margaret Mizen told the congregation her memories of her "gentle giant".

Jimmy Mizen
A 19-year-old man has been charged with Jimmy's murder

"I can't believe we are here now," she said. "He really was a beautiful son".

His brother, Billy, said: "I will always say I have six brothers, two sisters and a nephew. Jimmy will always come after Harry and before George forever."

For five weeks the tributes have lain beside the spot where he died - just yards from the church.

On the morning of 10 May, he was a boy in the wrong place at the wrong time. His throat was cut by a shard of glass during an altercation in the Three Cooks Bakery.

It could have been any boy; it happened to be one much loved by many.

The message "Oi! Oi! Jimmy Boy! Xxx" has been spray painted on the pavement, alongside other affectionate tributes written in marker pen on the flagstones.

Sitting beside them was a tent belonging to a homeless man for whom Jimmy would buy a bag of chips each Friday. Its occupant has written "Jimmy Mizen: Legend" on the side of it.

Jimmy was the thirteenth teenager to have be killed in London since the beginning of the year. In the following weeks, three more have perished in violent attacks in the capital

A 19-year-old man, Jake Fahri, has been charged with his murder. His trial begins in August.

From the church, Jimmy's body was taken to nearby Grove Park Cemetery, where Barry and Margaret Mizen did what no parents should have to do: bury their child.




SEE ALSO
In Pictures: Jimmy Mizen memorial
17 May 08 |  In Pictures

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