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Last Updated: Friday, 16 February 2007, 14:37 GMT
Friend saw boy before he was shot
Billy Cox
Billy Cox was shot at his home
A friend of murdered teenager Billy Cox has said he saw him a few minutes before he was shot dead.

Emanuel Lawson, 22, said he saw the 15-year-old heading home to meet "some girl" on Wednesday.

"I had a little bit of a bad feeling, so I didn't go round to the house," Mr Lawson said.

Senior police are meeting Home Secretary John Reid to discuss the spate of shootings which have left three teenagers dead in south London.

Mr Lawson said he had known Billy for "four or five years" as a familiar face on the Fenwick Estate, in Clapham North.

"I saw him a few minutes before he died," he said.

"I was heading off to the shop, and I always ask the little kids what they're up to.

"He said, he's going to his house, he's going to meet up with some girl. I was in a bit of a rush, I said I would probably pop back and see him later.

Some of these young people have got very little connection to stable community lives
Sir Ian Blair

"I had a little bit of a bad feeling, so I didn't go round to the house. Now I'm shocked and upset to hear what's happened."

Billy was the third teenager to die in a spate of shootings in south London in under two weeks.

Flowers and cards, some addressed to "Remer", Billy's street name, and describing him as a "fallen soldier", have been left outside his home.

On a visit to the Fenwick Estate, Camberwell and Peckham MP Harriet Harman said youth services were "Cinderella services".

"We have really got to recognise the huge importance for an area like Peckham of those services and really bring them in to the mainstream," she said.


Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair has set up a task force, including armed officers on the streets in response to the shootings.

Gun crime in London has fallen by 14% in the past year and Sir Ian said his force was "determined" to prevent this recent spate from escalating.

He has urged Mr Reid to lower the age limit from 21 to 17 for the five-year mandatory sentence for carrying guns, an idea which has received an encouraging response from the Home Office.

Homicide statistics

Speaking ahead of his meeting with the Met Police's Commander Cressida Dick, Mr Reid said: "This is a very serious and complex problem.

"We have to use a whole array of methods to tackle it, from police and prisons right through to demanding family responsibility."

The new task force will run alongside Operation Trident, which investigates gun crime in London's African-Caribbean community.

Billy Cox was discovered by his 12-year-old sister when she came home from school.

She had returned with a school friend when they heard a bang. Shortly afterwards they found Billy, who had been shot, and died at the scene.

Officers said the back door of the house was open and there was no sign of forced entry.

Billy's murder follows the killings of Michael Dosunmu, 15, on 6 February in Peckham and James Smartt-Ford, three days earlier in Streatham.

Map of the three shootings
1. 14 Feb: Billy Cox, 15, shot dead at his home
2. 6 Feb: Michael Dosunmu, 15, shot dead at his home
3. 3 Feb: James Smartt-Ford, 16, is fatally shot at Streatham ice arena

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