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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 September, 2003, 17:13 GMT 18:13 UK
Community vigil for Toni-Ann
Toni-Ann Byfield
Toni-Ann and her father had been shopping for a school uniform
A candle-lit vigil has been held near the bed-sit where seven-year-old Toni-Ann Byfield was shot by her father's killer.

Churches and anti-gun campaigners say the young girl's death has shocked the community.

Cheryl Townsend, from the voluntary group Brent Community Enforcement, said: "I think it has brought it home for us, what kind of a community we are living in and how volatile and dangerous it is."

Residents were invited to say prayers and release balloons opposite Kensal Green cemetery from 1800 BST on Thursday to remember Toni-Ann and her father Bertram Byfield.

Both died of their injuries shortly after the shooting in Kensal Green, north-west London on Sunday.

Organisers say the vigil is the best way to express their grief and outrage.

Local peace campaigner the Reverend Nims Obunge said: "Often silence is construed as consent and I think the community has to be very clear and very vocal.

A 'bright, lively girl'

"We will no longer tolerate in our families, not just our communities, people who are involved in certain kinds of trade which result in what happened to Toni-Ann."

The youngster attended Slade School, in Erdington, Birmingham, where staff described her as a "bright, lively girl" who had settled in well since joining last November.

Head teacher Andrew Sewell said: "Although she was at the school for a relatively short time, she will be sadly missed by the staff and pupils.

"Our thoughts and condolences are with her family and friends."

Mr Byfield had taken his daughter, along with two women and a young child, to the Brent Cross shopping centre on Saturday afternoon to buy a new school uniform.

Scotland Yard wants to trace anyone who saw the group as well as customers at the Total garage on Harrow Road at midnight.

Flowers at the scene
The Kensal Green community has been "shocked to the core"
Detective Chief Inspector Neil Basu said: "There has been lots of speculation and coverage about [Mr Byfield's] background, but as a parent, he had the best interests of his little girl at heart."

"If anyone saw the group shopping at any point during the day, or if anyone who was at the Total garage or was on the street nearby when the murders took place, please contact us."

Toni-Ann arrived in the UK from Jamaica in 2000 and had been staying with relatives in Birmingham.

A ward of court known to Birmingham Social Services, she had been staying with her father, a convicted criminal, for the weekend.

Toni-Ann's mother, Christine Richards, has been traced in Jamaica and told of her daughter's death.

She told the Associated Press news agency she was trying to get a Jamaican passport so she could apply for a British visa to attend her daughter's funeral.

"I want to see my daughter one last time," she said.

A 23-year-old man arrested in connection with the shooting has been bailed until October, but remains in custody on suspicion of immigration offences.

Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call police on 020 8358 0608.




WATCH AND LISTEN
BBC London's Sarah Harris
"The vigil has been organised to unite the community"



SEE ALSO:
Inquiry into shot girl's care
17 Sep 03  |  London
Arrest after girl, 7, shot dead
16 Sep 03  |  London
Police seek double murder motive
15 Sep 03  |  London


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