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Last Updated: Saturday, 10 September 2005, 15:00 GMT 16:00 UK
'Mothers are tired of burying their sons'
By Lincoln Archer
BBC News

Cheryl Sealey lays a wreath on Harrow Rd
A wreath laid opposite the bedsit where Toni-Ann Byfield was shot
Families of shooting victims have marched with police through the streets of Brent, north-west London, demanding an end to gun crime in the area and appealing for information about the deaths.

But as they did so, other officers were three blocks away on the scene of yet another murder.

A housing estate had been cordoned off after a man was found dead there. Four other men who were believed to have been involved in the incident were taken to hospital, police said.

A post-mortem examination began on Saturday, at the same time as about 120 people began their march against such crimes.

I thought it would get easier as the years go by, but it doesn't
Cheryl Sealey, laying a wreath for Toni-Ann

"We want to send a clear message that we don't want guns or gunmen on our streets. The whole community here is saying enough is enough," one of the marchers said before he set off.

"Mothers are tired of burying their sons. All they want is peace."

The marchers sang joyful hymns as they began moving along the rally's route. Organisers said that although the crimes that brought them together were tragic, the march itself was a celebration of the lives of the loved ones lost.

It was also a celebration by a community determined to stand up to the criminals on their streets, they said.

Brent has the highest murder rate in all of the areas in which the Met Police's Operation Trident is running.

Police cordon near the crime scene
As the march began, an autopsy started on a victim found nearby

Trident, which deals with gun crime within the black community, is investigating five murders in the area since January alone.

The task force is investigating three murders in Lewisham and one apiece in Haringey and Southwark.

The first stop on Saturday's march was outside the house where Toni-Ann and Bertram Byfield were shot dead two years ago.

It is believed seven-year-old Toni-Ann was shot dead to stop her identifying the killer of Bertram, 41.

Cheryl Sealey, representing Toni-Ann's mother, laid a wreath opposite the scene of the crime.

"I thought it would've got easier as the years go by, but it doesn't," an emotional Ms Sealey told the crowd.

'Fresh leads'

Another wreath was laid at the base of a clock at the local high street, causing traffic to be backed up for hundreds of metres.

Patsy Hopwood, whose son Kavian was murdered in Stonebridge in 2003, also addressed the crowd at a school near where he died.

Marchers line the streets of Brent
Up to 150 people - young and old - joined the march
Detective Chief Inspector Neil Basu, the Trident officer in charge of the area, said he hoped the march would bring fresh leads in the cases under investigation.

"I don't want to have to investigate the death of another boy or girl from the Brent community for the rest of my life," he said.

Brent's borough commander, Chief Supt Andy Bamber, said the availability of firearms in the borough was "absolutely horrifying".

"People can easily get a firearm and the age group of those getting involved is coming down," he said.

He said building confidence among the community would be vital in order to bring in new information.

"If we don't know each other, then people don't talk," he said.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
The background to Toni-Ann Byfield's murder



SEE ALSO:
TV lead in Toni-Ann murder case
22 Sep 04 |  West Midlands
Did the gun amnesty work?
30 Apr 03 |  UK


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