Waltham Forest Echo

Waltham Forest Echo

Chingford mother warns this man is ‘dangerous’ around children

A Chingford mother wants residents to know this man is “dangerous” after he preyed upon her nine-year-old daughter, reports Victoria Munro Keanu Vella, 27, [...]

Hero for Chingford mother warns this man is ‘dangerous’ around children
Keanu Vella (Met Police)
By Waltham Forest Echo 08 October 2021

A Chingford mother wants residents to know this man is “dangerous” after he preyed upon her nine-year-old daughter, reports Victoria Munro

Keanu Vella, 27, who lives in Loughton but is originally from Chingford, was jailed for two years at Snaresbrook Crown Court last week for “engaging in sexual activity in front of a minor”.

On 13th February, he visited a close friend who was looking after the girl that afternoon and, when the adult left the room for a second, pulled her into a bathroom and started masturbating.

Her mother told the Echo that, though she was not close with Vella, before the crime she had considered him “someone [she] could trust”.

She said: “It was pretty horrific, to be honest, to take in. I went to the court and… even though I knew the outline, I didn’t know all the details so it really hit me hard.

“The whole process of going to court was really tough on my daughter too. Each month or so she was getting brought in to relive the situation. 

“I had not seen this guy for many years but, as far as I was concerned, he was someone I could trust. It shows you need to be careful of who you let in your house and have around you.

“It’s lucky my daughter was so quick [to tell someone]… but she’s quite a strong character. A lot of kids are very timid and might not feel able to speak up.”

She said Vella appears to have groomed both the nine-year-old and another girl, aged 10, at the house that day, offering them money and whispering suggestive remarks.

The mother said: “He asked [the other girl] if she had ‘ever seen a proper willy before’… she didn’t even understand what he had said.

“Clearly, there was a little bit of grooming going on, which they didn’t recognise. He was doing it where the other adults wouldn’t see and put a stop to it and then just seized his opportunity.

“We’re happy he got a unanimous guilty verdict but we do not feel like the sentence fits the crime because of how young she is. He got two years in prison but think how long it will affect the children.”

She added that the revelation of Vella’s character had also “traumatised” the friend who was looking after her daughter “because she had known him for many years”. 

The friend told the Echo she first met Vella almost two decades ago and believed he was “just a normal person” until that day.

However, the friend said the jury’s decision to find Vella unanimously guilty, even after the judge agreed to accept a majority verdict, meant the result was “the best it could have gone”.

She said: “A lot of people don’t get justice in these sorts of situations and the trial made me very anxious because, at times, I thought ‘what if it doesn’t go in our favour?’

“At the end, it was relieving. When he was found guilty, we were so happy about it.”

Vella was sentenced to two years in prison on 1st October. He faces a hearing on 22nd October regarding a sexual harm prevention order.

An earlier version of this article mistakenly stated Vella was already on the sex offenders register when this has not yet been confirmed and will be decided on the 22nd.