Leyton News

‘A young Black man who did good for his community’: Tributes paid to murdered father-of-two

People have left flowers, balloons, and portraits to commemorate Josh McKay, 33, who was fatally stabbed on Lea Bridge Road on Saturday, reports Marco Marcelline

Flowers, balloons and portraits line the pavement outside the barber shop where Josh was murdered, Inset: Josh McKay

Friends and community members have paid tribute to Josh McKay, a father-of-two who was stabbed to death on Lea Bridge Road on Saturday (6th July).

Flowers, balloons, and family portraits of the 33-year-old line the pavement outside Hollywood Cuts, a barber shop, where Josh was fatally stabbed.

A woman passing the crime scene this morning said it was important that narratives and stereotypes about young Black men were not repeated in media reportage of the incident. She described Josh as “a young Black man who did good for his community and looked after his children.”

Also paying his dues at the scene this morning was Pastor Birkett Bennett, who acts as the chaplain to the Mayor of Waltham Forest Sharon Waldron. 

He discussed the reality of life for many young people in Waltham Forest who are lured into gangs because it fulfilled a need for community. “Too many are looking for [community] in the wrong places; they need a family and gangs become that for them.”

He pointed out that there were so many young people in the area, who like Josh, were leading good and upstanding lives that did not get enough coverage. 

Ash, a local artist who knew Josh in passing, is one of those people, Birkett said. Standing next to the floral tribute to Josh, Ash said he was shocked by his murder but warned fatal stabbings were becoming increasingly normalised.

He told the Echo: “Sadly it’s not the first [stabbing] and it won’t be the last. We shouldn’t get to a point where we’re normalising this but it’s happening so much now unfortunately.

“The majority of us are living under this dark cloud. The news reinforces [all the bad stuff] that is happening.”

Josh McKay, Credit: Met Police

Having served a prison sentence for a violent incident several years ago, Ash said he had an intimate knowledge of the issues that young people face growing up today.

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Criticising the lack of role models that young people have, he said: “A lot of youths have nothing to look towards. They see [Twitch] streamers smashing stuff up and getting rich and famous, and think they can do the same. We need proper figures for them to look up to.”

“A lot of young people are afraid to be themselves. They are talented but need the [creative outlets] and support to realise their potential.”

Since coming out of prison, Ash said a short story he had written for his daughter was commended by Benjamin Zephaniah and included in an exhibition the late poet curated at the Southbank Centre. 

Other locals expressed concern at rising crime. Fousia, who lives nearby,  said she was frequently worried about her 25-year-old son getting stabbed or killed because of “worsening” knife crime in Leyton and Walthamstow.

“I fear for my son’s life. Crime is getting worse and police only turn up when it’s already [happened].”

She added: “I feel really sorry for [Josh] and his family; people are just going around killing for fun.”

A 29-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of murder yesterday while a 38-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender on Sunday (7th July). Both are in custody and police are continuing to investigate the murder.

In an appeal for information yesterday, Detective Chief Inspector Linda Bradley from the Met’s specialist crime command said: “Our investigation is making progress and we have now made an arrest.

“We are continuing to carry out extensive enquiries, including a review of CCTV footage, and our colleagues from the local policing team remain in the area.

“However, we still need your help. Two children have been left without a father. If you saw anything, or have information regarding the person who killed Josh, please do the right thing and call us, or contact Crimestoppers anonymously.”

Information can be provided via: https://mipp.police.uk/operation/01MPS24W62-PO1

You can also call police via 101 quoting reference CAD 4049/06Jul. To remain anonymous contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111

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