Page last updated at 17:20 GMT, Thursday, 3 July 2008 18:20 UK

Horror descends on quiet street

By Sarah Bell
BBC News, New Cross

The burnt-out flat
The students had been bound, gagged and stabbed

An explosion disturbing their quiet Sunday evenings was shocking enough for the residents of Sterling Gardens.

But to find out three days later two men had been bound, gagged, then stabbed to death in the burnt-out flat left them stunned.

The crime scene is located in an otherwise nondescript cul-de-sac of new-build flats, now guarded by police and watched over by reporters.

Only sheeting covering blown-out windows and shards of glass littering the ground suggested something sinister had happened.

'Building shook'

One of the students' neighbours, known only as Andrew, said he had been watching a DVD when he felt one blast, followed by one or two more.

"It shook the whole building, it was like someone dropped something really, really, heavy," he said.

Neighbours called the fire brigade and knocked on windows of the burning flat, but with no response they assumed it was empty.

Sarah MacIntyre
What in the world have they been killed for?
Sarah MacIntyre

Then police revealed two bodies, riddled with stab wounds, had been discovered.

Andrew said: "A fire was shocking enough, but when we came back the next day and were told that it was a murder scene, well no-one welcomes that. It's very shocking."

A 10-minute walk from the bustling New Cross Road, the development was described by residents as quiet and popular with young professionals and students.

Sarah MacIntyre, 32, a cartoonist who has lived in a block yards away from the murder scene for nine years, also heard the explosion.

"I thought a bridge on the railway line had collapsed. We all ran down to see what was happening, everyone was gathered outside the flat," she said.

"It's really sad. What in the world have they been killed for?"


Tirzah Norman, who lives directly above the flat, but was not at home at the time, said he had never seen the students.

He said: "I feel sad for their families. These sort of things shouldn't happen anywhere."

Sam Kemp
Sam Kemp: "The area is popular with students and young professionals"

Sam Kemp, 27, a photographer, said while he had often seen police signs in New Cross, there had been no problems closer to his home.

"You do hear of trouble around here and things, gangs and things, but I think if you keep your head down you will be alright.

"There are so many students here, they tend not to get involved in those issues, they keep out of it all."

Another resident, who gave her name as Astrid, said she was frightened.

"How it happened and no-one noticed, no-one was seen. This makes me very scared," she said.

"People are living side-by-side in their own worlds and don't notice something strange."

While the police investigation is just beginning, it seems the residents will have to wait to get some understanding of the violence which has shattered their peace.

Students stabbed and set alight
03 Jul 08 |  London

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