On January 31st, 2011 Keith Needell, 84, was attacked in Queen’s Wood near Highgate. Needell was found with serious head injuries and was taken to hospital where he remained and died on July 16. Needell was one of 7 victims attacked by Ali Koc,30. Two of the victims died. All 7 victims were attacked within a 2,5 mile radius of Koc’s home. The court heard at the murder trial that all seven victims were attacked at random. Koc was found guilty of murder and was jailed for life.
After venturing far and wide from where I lived documenting the landscape of murder sites around London, I found myself somewhere very familiar. Queen’s Wood was just west of Muswell Hill and not too far from where I live. I love walking in Queen’s Wood and have trodden its paths dozens of times. Keith Needell died in July, months after being attacked. So I photographed where he was assaulted months after the attack when all evidence of the crime had long since gone. Instead what I was confronted with was the woods themselves. Queen’s Wood is a relatively unspoiled woods and not really a park. Its a great place to walk but it has no playground and its only amenity is a cafe at its very edges. In the middle of the woods it is easy to imagine being in the middle of a vast forest. Unless a loud siren goes by you have no sense you are near Highgate or Muswell Hill surrounded by well to do neighbourhoods. In winter and in bad weather the woods can be very dark.
It was on such a day that I visited Queen’s Wood, months after Needell was assaulted. I had no clue where to go so I started asking people who seemed regular walkers if they knew. I got conflicting directions but eventually I seemed to be at the spot where Needell was assaulted. One tree in particular seemed to loom near the spot. I made several photographs of the beautiful woods that seemed only haunting in knowledge of what had happened.
I never anticipated that when I started the project some some murders would be classified as such months after the event because the victim had died. I hadn’t thought about visiting murder sites so long after the crime. At most I thought it might be a week or two. Whenever I photographed there was always a small clue to the events that had occurred…a small piece of police tape, rubbish left behind by forensic teams, memorials from friends and relatives, a boarded up door, or a shuttered property. Always something and yet the first murder site I did was a landscape devoid of evidence of a crime.
I walked out of Queen’s Wood thinking how beautiful it was. It was hard to imagine two men had been attacked here in what would have been a peaceful routine for them. I knew I would return to walk the woods again for pleasure but always with the dark knowledge that murder had occurred.
Albert Wright, 80, was stabbed to death at his home in Hainault, east London, on Friday, 25 February, 2011. His body was found five hours later when the victim’s son David arrived home on Trelawney Road. Mr Wright was pronounced dead at the scene. Mark Robinson, 35, pleaded guilty to murder on January 16, 2012, and was jailed for life with a minimum of 21 years. The Old Bailey heard Robinson stabbed the widower 31 times to spite David Wright, who had married Robinson’s mother three months before her death.
I was still playing catch up with my project when I arrived in Hainault. I had been away in Afghanistan on assignment and I was rushing around London to the sites where murders had occurred while I was away. Hainault was one of the furthest I had travelled on my project. It was near the end of the Central Line and I had never been there. The walk to Trelawney Road was short from the tube station. The area resembled my own neighbourhood in Arnos Grove. Semi detached houses built in the 1930s lined the quiet if slightly shabby street. The day before I had been in Downham to photograph the house of Pat Jobson, a retired widow who had been killed by a drug addict and now I was at the murder site of a widower killed in a family dispute. Two elderly Londoners killed in their 80s after having survived long lives in London. I had arrived a couple of weeks after the murder had occurred and a few flowers were laying in the forecourt of the house next to a car. As I set up my camera a neighbour from across the street came and asked what I was doing. She asked for some ID to prove I was a photojournalist and satisfied, she told me she had been asked by Wright’s family to look after the house now that it was vacant. She told what had happened without betraying any assumptions of how it could have happened except to say Mr. Wright had been a nice neighbour.
I started photographing from across the street to take in the whole house but as I went along I got closer and closer until I photographed the scene in the photograph above. I sensed that I was being watched by the neighbours and I decided not to step into the forecourt of the house. I stayed behind the fence and gate, photographing from the pavement. It was the first time I felt like I was trespassing. It was a very uneasy feeling. The street was empty of people and it was getting dark but I somehow felt I was intruding. The photograph has a disjointed feel, imperfectly balanced and it probably reflects my uneasiness that day.
Pat Jobson, 86, was found battered to death at her home in Downham, south London, on February 20, 2011. Police forced entry to the house in Oakridge Road after being contacted by worried relatives. It is thought she was attacked two days earlier during the night of February 18. A postmortem gave the cause of death as blunt force trauma to the head. On March 7, police charged Karen Williamson, 45, with murder. Williamson had worked for the victim as a gardener. Williamson battered Mrs Jobson to death with a hammer and a glass jug during a row. She then pawned the victim’s jewellery, an earring, a locket and her husband’s ring on a chain, all for just £61.
I dont know why my abiding memory of going to Downham was the long walk and how poor the area looked as I walked through it. The closest I had been to the area was Bromley. I was desperate to get to the murder site. I had been away for 3 weeks in Afghanistan and I was playing catch up with my project. I was worried that too much time had passed between the time of the murder and me photographing the scene. Maybe I was still suffering from culture shock as I had only been back in the UK for a day and yet I could not help thinking how poor Downham seemed. I always tell people that Afghanistan is a very beautiful place and maybe it was this contrast that I was experiencing. Downham seemed so dreary, and bleak. It was a strange feeling to have after returning from one of the poorest countries in the world.
When I finally found the house where Pat Jobson had been killed I was surprised that the police tape still draped the gate to her front garden. Flowers still lined the front of the house, worse for wear, but still there. The new metal door now prevented anyone from entering the property but I could not imagine who would want to go in. I focused on the metal door as it seemed to say “Beyond me something terrible has happened”. Those metal doors would become familiar to me over the course of the project. Unmistakable in their symbol of tragedy. Before to me they were a symbol of an abandoned property, a repossession , an obstacle to squatters.
The pavement was narrow and many people stepped over me while I photographed. Most seemed not to care what I was doing and a few gave me disapproving glances. Only a couple who were neighbours stopped to tell me what a nice lady Pat Jobson was. Months later I would find out that the murderer was an aspiring actress who had appeared on Eastenders and other TV shows but had fallen into crack addiction. The scourge of drug addiction and the drug trade would be prevalent throughout my project. To me visible symptoms of the disease of poverty. And Pat Jobson was an unlucky to have been caught in its wake.
Rolls Say,10 and his sister Regina,8, were stabbed to death by their father on February 13, 2011. Their throats had been cut and Rolls had suffered a head injury. They had also suffered knife wounds as they attempted to defend themselves. The father, Jean Francis Say, 62 was arrested at the scene and charged with two counts of murder. The prosecution said he killed Rolls and Regina to spite his estranged wife Antoinette, 44, after finding out he would be evicted from his flat. He had lost his entitlement to the property because she and the children had moved out. On December 8, 2011, he appeared at the Old Bailey to admit the murder of both children. He was jailed for life with a minimum of 30 years before parole.
I have two children of my own and I can’t imagine the crime that befell Regina and Rolls Say. It seems against every human instinct to murder your own children. This was the second time I had come to photograph a murder site where children had died. For some reason I expected to encounter someone who would object to my presence but when I got to Empire Square, the modern block of flats where Rolls and Regina lived, I was met with eery silence. It was a very bright winter day and light streaked through every crevice of the buildings. I photographed the entire building at first but gravitated to the entrance where some flowers lay. Among the flowers, portraits of the 2 kids stood out, smiling as you would expect kids their age to do. The memorial was already wilting from the harsh sunlight and freezing temperatures. I hung around for an hour walking around the building. I could see the blacked out windows to the flat where the murder had happened. Finally as I was deciding to leave a woman came up to me asking who I was working for. She sadly told me what she knew and said that there had already been a dispute over the flowers. Some over zealous cleaner had tried to remove them after a couple of days. I had wondered already how long these makeshift memorials survived and who decides when to remove them. She said they should remain as long as they survive the elements.
Samuel Guidera, 24, was stabbed to death in a suspected robbery on Saturday, 12 February, 2011. He was attacked 200 metres from Penge East station in south London as he walked to see a friend. Guidera was attacked near a bus stop on Newlands Park. His wallet was taken as he bled to death in the street. A passersby found Guidera injured at the junction with Bailey Place and at first thought he had been involved in a road traffic accident. A postmortem later found he suffered a single stab wound to the heart. The case remains unsolved.
One of my intentions for the project was that I would photograph landscapes of the murder sites I visited. I would step back far enough to take in the surrounding area in the hope that something about the landscape would give clues and meaning to the photograph. But with the site of Samuel Guidera’s murder I was drawn to the flower memorial and in particular the white sheet of paper with the words written ” Give Yourself Up You Coward, R.I.P Sam, Love” The murder to this day remains unsolved and the sign seemed a premonition of that. Looking back at the photographs from the shoot I shot very few landscapes. Instead I focused on the memorial of flowers that also included a Crystal Palace FC jersey with a button of Samuel’s face on it. But it was the handwritten sign i kept focusing back on. Guidera’s murder was the first I encountered that seemed to be random. He was the victim of a robbery that led to murder. It is the kind of death that we all fear, the kind in which we have no control, a kind of urban fear we all share. We never truly believe that those we know are more likely to kill us. We all believe that if murder were to find us it would be a matter of bad luck, random in its nature. Unfortunately this is not the case. Murders in which the victim did not know the assassin are in the minority.
Ramnit Chander, 32, was found dead at a house in Sussex Road, Southall, west London, on February 10, 2011. Detectives were called to the address in Sussex Road by the landlord at 5.45pm and at first believed the death was not suspicious. A postmortem later confirmed he had been assaulted.
My notes remind me that I went to Sussex Road almost a month after Ramnit Chander was found dead in his flat. I would not call it a flat. It was a room in what looked like a converted brick shed behind some shops. He lived in slum housing. Just from looking at his lodgings I knew Chander lived an existence that could be described as an invisible in the margins of society.
It took a few weeks for the case to be considered a murder. It was the first murder of my project that was in West London. Most had been in Northeast London so far. I took the train to Southall from Paddington and enjoyed the long walk through the southern end Southall, with its Sikh/Indian vibe that seemed unspoilt by tourism in the way Brick Lane had. When I got to Sussex Road, I had a difficult time locating the location of where Chander had died. I stepped into a few shops asking if anyone knew and most feigned ignorance or declined to talk to me. Finally one young man showed me. Nothing marked the spot as a location of a violent crime except a small piece of police tape still on the black metal gate. The whole scene was ugly. I peeked over the gate and saw the small courtyard strewn with trash. The shed like flat where Chander had died seemed to be newly occupied with a new tenant.
So the 19th murder in London in 2011 had claimed another immigrant. I can’t help but ponder about people who journey so far away from their birth to meet such sorrowful ends to their lives. I sensed that Chander had struggled in the 10 years he had lived in London. Never rising above the poverty that he probably thought he was escaping when he left the Punjab. The case into his murder 2 years later remains unsolved. His death barely made news beyond the local papers in west London. According to police reports it seems that his life was “Sketchy” to detectives trying to figure out the circumstances of his death. I suspect that there are thousands of migrants like Ramnit Chander living below the radar. Invisible to us all, hiding out in the edges of London.
Romanian Csaba Siklodi, 42, was battered and stabbed to death at a bungalow in Sydenham, south London, in the early hours of February 9, 2011. Police were called the house in Mayow Road at 2.10am following reports of a disturbance. Mr Siklodi had suffered 18 stab wounds and was pronounced dead at the scene. Gheorghe Mihai Teodorescu,46, and Marcea Corbu, 51, both of no fixed address, were charged with his murder. They went on trial at Snaresbrook Crown Court on November 21, 2011.The prosecution claimed the victim was beaten with a crowbar and stabbed repeatedly by his housemates after an argument about what music to play during a drinking session in the bedroom. Corbu and Teodorescu were convicted of murder and jailed for life. Teodorescu will serve a minimum of 20 years before parole and Corbu a minimum of 18 years before parole.
I remember getting up early hoping to use the morning light but instead being met by cold dreary rain. When I got to Mayow Road the forensic team was still working inside the house and outside a lone officer sat in her car looking bored out of her mind. She stepped out to ask me for some ID and then let me get on with my photograph. I knew nothing about what had happened except that someone had been murdered. Normally someone would come up to me offering me some clue as to what had occurred but on this miserable wet day everyone seemed in a rush to get to work and out of the rain. The only clue to I could derive was the Liverpool FC flag in the window. I imagined that someone from Liverpool had been involved. The forensic officers came in and out in their white boiler suits like ghosts. I kept wondering what kind of scene was inside. I took very few photographs and generally I wasn’t happy with the photographs. It was one of those days that I doubted the journey I was on.
It was the 5th murder site I had photographed that an immigrant or foreign national had been murdered since the beginning of the year. Romania, Poland, Sri Lanka, Russia and Ireland were the countries the victims had come from. Csaba Siklodi ended up in a squat and spent his last night on earth drinking, arguing and dying violently. I am sure he had bigger dreams than that.
Kunaliny Alagaratnam 42 and Santhirapathy Tharmalingam,59, died in afire on the 16th floor of a tower block in Deptford , South London. Sandra Clarke, 50, started the blaze in her own flat using two cans of lighter fuel after a dispute over her rent arrears. Alagaratnam and Tharmalingam who were in a neighbouring flat, died of smoke inhalation during a fire in which 50 firefighters were involved. Sandra Clarke was charged and found guilty of manslaughter and jailed for 16 years.
I had an assignment in Greenwich late in the afternoon of February 4th and I was on a train when I went by Marine Tower in Deptford. I saw the smoke rising from the building and wondered how bad the fire was. And then I forgot about it. Until the next day or so when I found out someone had died in the blaze and that it was probably murder. So I went to the building and saw the usual signs of police activity at the ground floor which of course I photographed. A young man who was studying photography came up to me and asked me a lot of questions about my work and technical questions about my cameras. I was happy for the distraction because I was not happy with the photographs I was making and it gave me time to think. A few more people came up to the two of us and told me what they knew of the case. They told me that the male relatives of the two women had killed them. Honour killings and the such they said. Of course not knowing much about the case I believed them. So in one ear I am being told that Asian men dont like being disrespected by their women and in the other ear I am being asked questions about the future of Photojournalism. I finally had to make my excuses and get back to the task at hand. I decided that I needed a photograph that showed the fire damage to the building and show it was the top floor. I walked several blocks west and north of the building until I was far enough away to see the top clearly. I had to use a telephoto lens, which I dont really like, to get what I wanted. I photographed until the sun went down. The whole time I watched distant planes fly by, the beautiful sunset light come in and out of the clouds, flocks of birds go by. Women with their children stopped to stare at me and one man came out wondering if I was photographing his flat. I said no and satisfied with my explanation stood with me for a few minutes pondering the black stain on the building. The smoke from the fire had blackened the northwest corner of Marine Tower. Santhirapathy Tharmalingam was visiting her cousin Kunaliny Alagaratnam and I wondered if Santhirapathy had ever been to London before. I wondered what had brought Kunaliny to London and if that reason had been poverty, family or even war. To die in such way in a tower block so high up in freezing grey London. So different from the Sri Lanka.
Lorna Smith, 45, was murdered by her ex-boyfriend after being lured to his flat at Morrish Road in Brixton. She had broken up with Clifford Mills in 2006 but they remained friends until she started a new relationship in October 2010. Lorna tried to cease contact but he set up a false Facebook account in the name of Charlie Manning to keep in touch. Smith arrived at his flat at 3pm on February 2, 2011. Twenty minutes later Mills left the address with two bags packed with his belongings and spent the rest of the day travelling around London. At 1am he turned up at the accident and emergency department of St Thomas’ Hospital and confessed to Lorna’s murder. While in the hospital Mills told hospital staff that ‘Stan’ had in fact killed Lorna. He said “You need to call the police, Lorna’s dead. Stan’s killed her. Stan hates her, he killed her.” When asked who Stan was Mills replied “Stan is in my head.” Police broke into the flat in Morrish Road and found Lorna sitting in a chair with her throat cut and a plastic bag placed over her head. Clifford Mills was given a life sentence after being found guilty of the murder.
Coming out of Brixton Tube always reminds me of when I first came to London. Brixton was as famous to me as Westminster or any other part of London. I was expecting to see a “ghetto” like some of the inner cities of the United States. What I saw instead was a vibrant community and I said to myself that if this is as rough as London gets, I am gonna really love living here. I still love Brixton but I also expected to visit the area a lot for my project. Brixton is associated with a lot of crime, unfairly I knew, yet those preconceptions filter into my head just like anyone else. I also expected Lorna to be a black woman just because she met her death in Brixton. I don’t like writing things like this because it forces me to admit my head is full of dumb shit that clouds my judgement and forces me to constantly challenge what I think I know. I caught the No. 45 bus that went down Brixton Hill and got off near Morrish Road. I walked up and down the road looking for the murder site but saw nothing. I sheepishly went into a women’s hairdressing salon and asked them if they knew where it was. They said it was at the west end of the road where “the white lady” had died. They also told me it was some sort of domestic dispute. They told me to look out for the boarded up window facing the street in a block of flats. When I saw the ground floor flat I wondered how I missed the broken window. From what I read later it was the police that broke the window when forcing their way in. It was cold and windy and I struggled to make a photo. I ended up being drawn to the solitary piece of police tape flapping in the wind. One of the women that I had met in the salon came up to me and asked if I was with “the Sun”. It was a question that I would get a lot during the course of two years and anyone who knows me would know nothing annoys me more than being confused with a tabloid snapper. I said no and told her what I was doing. She looked at me like I was nuts but smiled kindly and walked away.
Anthony Bates, 36, was tortured to death at a squat in Vauxhall, south London, on January 31, 2011. He was burned with a hot poker, scalded with hot syrup, stabbed in the neck with an apple skewer and beaten with a broom handle. Police found his mutilated body in the kitchen of a house in Fentiman Road at 5.30am the next day. Gary Speight was charged with murder on February 3. On April 28, Dean Swift and his girlfriend Corina Lowe, were charged with murder. They went on trial at the Old Bailey on November 8, 2011. The prosecution claimed Speight killed Mr Bates for having an affair with his girlfriend while he was in jail. It was claimed Swift and Lowe joined in the attack. On December 21, 2011, Speight and Swift were convicted of murder. Lowe was cleared of the charge.
Fentiman Road is a long road and I wasn’t sure which end I should go to first. I chose the south end and got off at Oval Station on the Tube. Facing me across the street was St. Mark’s Church, which was once the site of the Surrey County Gallows. I walked west down the A3 past the usual array shops that are everywhere in London and turned right into Fentiman. Suddenly I knew I was on a well to do street of large victorian houses. I walked slowly looking for signs of a police presence as I was sure the forensic teams had finished their work. I stopped at a small council block of flats betraying my own prejudices that thought this must be the place. I asked a passerby if he knew the scene of the crime and he directed me to keep going north. I found the murder site which was across from Vauxhall Park. Traffic cones and discarded forensic clothing littered the front of the house. The windows to the front room and door were smashed betraying what must have been a very violent crime scene. The street was unusually free of traffic and I set up my camera and tripod in the middle of the road. Soon many local residents started coming up to me explaining that the house was a squat and that people of the sordid type came and went. I was told lots of negative things about Anthony Bates and it was clear that I was being told that the murder was not surprising. No one expressed any sadness. I doubt if any knew at the time of the horrific death that Mr. Bates had suffered. He had been tortured to death. Of course I did not know that at the time either and my notes clearly state that I was inclined to believe the stories I was being told. I headed back to Oval Station and stopped to stare at St. Mark’s Church. It’s a beautiful building. It was hard to believe that this was the site of an execution place, where men were hung and tortured, their hearts thrown into fires. Cruelty, Death and Murder, all things i just could not comprehend.
Daniel Graham, 18, was stabbed 24 times during an assault in Grove Vale, East Dulwich, South East London, just after midnight on January 29 2011. The assault happened in front of passengers on bus 176 which he boarded and then left after fleeing a fight at a birthday party. He had been followed by up to six youths who repeatedly kicked, punched and stabbed him on the pavement as bus passengers watched. Daniel Graham was taken to hospital but died a couple of hours later. 3 members of the GMG (Guns, Murders and Girls) gang, an offshoot of the Peckham Boys – were arrested and found guilty of murder.
A man came up to me as I started taking photos. “How much does a guy like you make to make photos of dead black boys ?” My first answer was “Not that much really” and then I tried to engage him in conversation hoping to explain to him what I was trying to do. He was having none of it. “The only time I ever see the media is when something bad happens to us, you make me sick! ” I tried to tell him about my project, the kind of work that I do and the last thing I want to be is exploitative. The man had been in the corner shop behind me and said ” You are standing on the spot where he died and your camera is pointing the wrong way”. He got into his car and continued to berate me for what I was doing. He drove way shaking his head in disgust. Soon after another man came up to me asking when the photo was going to be published. “I dont know” I said and again tried to explain what I was doing, but he too seemed disgusted about what I was doing and walked away. It was early days for my project and I was still trying to to figure out how to express to what I was doing to myself let alone other people. Yes I knew from the very beginning I wanted to have these encounters, these very conversations I was having in East Dulwich. At the time I only intended to photograph for a year and my hope was that by using a tripod for every photo I would make my self visible. Photographers who work in the streets dont want to be noticed and it was counter intuitive for me to make myself visible. A few other people talked to me that rainy afternoon in East Dulwich but the last one said to me “You are late, the police have been here and gone” I said I knew and didn’t bother to explain why. I packed up and walked across the street to board a train back to London Bridge.
Ezekiel Amosu, 17, was knocked down and killed by a bus as he attempted to escape a teenage gang. Ezekiel and four friends were approached in Essex Close, Walthamstow, on Monday January 24, 2011. After demanding his phone they chased him into the path of a 123 bus on Forest Road at around 7.15pm. He was hit by the vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene.
I was surprised to find myself in Walthamstow again for the project. Just down the road from where Ezekiel Amosu was killed on Forest Road was Palmerston Road where Fiza Asif had been murdered a few weeks earlier. The photograph above had been my second attempt at making a photograph. The previous night after dark many people had gathered to lay flowers and remember Ezekiel. By the number that had shown up it was obvious Ezekiel was well loved by family and friends. Because of the way i had set out to work on this project, none of the photos I had made were of any use. I didn’t want to use a flash and there were a couple of other news photographers there as well working with flash and I just didn’t want to add to it. I also didn’t want the photograph I made to look like what you would expect a news photograph to look from a situation such as this. So I came back the next day and instead of the crowd the previous night I made photos in the cold overcast day as people wandered up to the memorial by the bus stop. The photograph doesn’t reflect how well loved Ezekiel was and I regret that. Yet it was the first photograph in my project that I felt captured what I was trying to do. It gave me the confidence to continue the work but I still felt unsure where I was going.
Three year-old Rhys Lawrie died from severe head injuries on January 21, 2011. The boy, who had been diagnosed with a rare form of epilepsy, Dravet’s Syndrome, was taken to hospital after he was found collapsed at around 3.30pm. He was pronounced dead in hospital and a postmortem revealed up to 40 separate injuries including a broken leg, brain damage and bruising which suggested he had been picked up by his ears. At the time he was living with his mother Sadie Henry, 26, and her 16 year-old boyfriend Cameron Rose at a flat in Erith, Kent. Henry and Rose were arrested on January 26 on suspicion of grievous bodily harm. They were later re-arrested on suspicion of murder in September 2011. Five months later on 22 February 2012, detectives decided to caution Rhys’ mother for perverting the course of justice and charge Cameron Rose with murder. On October 30, 2012, the jury acquitted Rose of murder but convicted him of the lesser charge of manslaughter on the grounds he did not intend to cause serious bodily harm. Rose, then 17, was also convicted of assault occasioning actual bodily harm in relation to the injuries in January 2011 but cleared of a similar charge in relation to the December injuries. On November 29, 2012, Cameron Rose was jailed for five years.
The last photograph I took for my project, The Landscape of Murder, was the 11th murder to have occurred in London in 2011. I made the photograph in February, 2013. A lot of the details were not available to me until after November 2012 and before then I had given up on making a photograph of the site of Rhys Lawrie’s death. I knew a child was involved and from what I knew of the case I wondered if it would be declared a murder or an accidental death. In the course of my project I did not want to include a murder site photograph of a case that was later to be declared not a murder but an accident or something not malicious. So I waited and sort of forgot about making a photograph until I found out the mother’s boyfriend had been found guilty of manslaughter. Rhys Lawrie suffered a lot before he finally died. The details of the case are hard to read.
I was having trouble finding the address of where Rhys died and in my research I came across Trevor Lawrie’s website . It was more painful reading. The site is run by Rhys Lawrie’s grandfather. Mr. Lawrie is fighting for what he feels is justice for his grandson. He details his battles against the courts, the police and Bexley Council. You can’t helped but be moved by the site as you read through what is a very thorough and passionate case. I sheepishly emailed Mr Lawrie and asked if it would at all be possible to get the address after explaining my project to him. He kindly emailed back with the address.
I dont think I had ever been to Erith for any reason. Walking from Erith railway station I made my way southeast along the busy A206 and then headed east along Manor Road. You could see the Thames between the terraced houses if you look north. A giant wind turbine looms over the houses of Erith and Slade Green if you look south. I turned into a pathway that led me to the small council building that contained the flat in which Rhys died. The estate was a bit unkempt which betrayed the obvious poverty of the area. I struggled to make a photograph but was drawn to broken toys, the graffiti at the entrance to the building and a baby’s cot abandoned in the parking lot.
When I finished it suddenly dawned on me that I was finished photographing the project. It was a relief to be done documenting such a dark morbid subject. I walked back to Erith station feeling a bit empty and unsure what I had accomplished over the last two years.
25th October 2012
Colin Hammond, 65, was stabbed on Fulham High Street. Police and paramedics were called to the scene and he was pronounced dead. A postmortem gave the cause of death as a single knife wound. A 27-year-old man was arrested near the scene and has been charged with Hammond’s murder.
16th December 2012
The body of Evaldas Svolkinas, 34, was found in a stream in Romford, east London, after police were called to Carter’s Brook and found Svolkinas, a Lithuanian carpenter, had suffered severe head injuries. No one has been charged with the murder.
Anthony Whitefield, 47, was murdered and dismembered some time between 6 February and 31 March. His severed arms were found in Roding lake, while the torso and legs were found in other locations. Whitefield’s head has not been found. A 54-year-old man was convicted of the murder.