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Last Updated: Friday, 16 February 2007, 15:16 GMT
Shot teenager's father makes plea
Billy Cox
Billy Cox was found dying by his sister
The father of a teenager shot dead in his home has spoken for the first time since the murder to ask for help "to catch my boy's killers".

Builder Tommy Cox said his 15-year-old son Billy was "not perfect" but he was "dearly loved as a son and brother".

Billy was shot in the chest in the family home in Clapham, south London, on Wednesday afternoon.

Police have stepped up patrols in the area following three teenage gun murders in less than two weeks.

Mr Cox said: "I've been watching news about the two other boys shot and thought - these are only kids.

"They don't deserve that. The way they get hold of guns now is unbelievable.

"I want everyone to get behind the police 100%. If you have anything to say, tell the police. We and all his family will miss him so much."

The problem lies within families and communities, and so does the solution
David Cameron

Billy was found dying by his sister who rushed inside the maisonette in Fenwick Place after hearing a "loud bang" just after 1530 GMT.

Elizabeth, 13, tried to administer first aid but could do nothing to save him, police said.

Billy was later pronounced dead at the scene.

There were no signs of forced entry at the house but the back door was open - suggesting Billy may have known his attackers.

He had been serving a supervision order for a burglary offence, was tagged and restricted to a curfew from 0700 to 1900 GMT.

Billy's shooting followed the deaths of James Andre Smartt-Ford, 16, and Michael Dosunmu, 15, both also gunned down in south London.

He lived with Elizabeth, a talented ballet dancer, and parents Tommy and his Thai-born mother Kim.

'Law and order'

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

Meanwhile, politicians have claimed part of the answer to the problem of gun crime lies with families.

Conservative leader David Cameron told a youth organisation in Oxfordshire: "In the last two weeks, five people have been murdered in south London - three of them teenagers.

We have to use a whole array of methods from prisons to demanding family responsibility
John Reid

"On the face of it, this is a law and order issue. But surely no-one imagines that we can stop crimes like this simply with better policing or better gun control.

"The problem lies within families and communities, and so does the solution."

Home Secretary John Reid said he was prepared to meet south London MPs to discuss the killings.

Mr Reid said that greater family responsibility was required alongside law enforcement to tackle Britain's gun culture.

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

And the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, told a youth conference in Glasgow a "careful response" was needed to the recent killings.

He said: "It will require specific solutions to deal with guns and gangs as well as confronting broader questions of community and family responsibility."

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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