Nashon Esbrand: Family says brutal Canonbury murder ‘changed our lives forever’
PUBLISHED: 15:56 27 March 2018 | UPDATED: 16:48 27 March 2018
“They finally got me, dad. Don’t let mum see me.”
Nashon Esbrand was dying in a pool of his own blood, in a doorway just a few doors down from his parents’ house in Mitchison Road, Canonbury.
But the 27-year-old still had his mum on his mind.
“That’s who he was,” Princess Esbrand told the Gazette today. “He was very caring. He took me shopping every Thursday. He was a very family-orientated young man.”
Princess was speaking at the family home after two of her son’s killers – Dillon Zambon, 20, and Jhon Berhane, 18 – were found guilty of murder by an Old Bailey jury. A 16-year-old boy had already admitted carrying out the fatal stabbing on August 24 last year. Zambon and Berhane were convicted on joint enterprise after they helped chase and corner Nashon.
The jury had been considering its verdict for two days before coming to the decision yesterday afternoon. As his mum, how did it feel?
“So emotional,” Princess responds, “that I couldn’t even cry. I tell you, we have a really strong family and it was amazing yesterday.
“It was a victory for Nashon.
“It’s been a really hard ride for us. I’ve had sleepless nights. There have been times where I’ve felt suicidal. I’m just grateful to my children for their support.
“Sitting through that trial was so hard. I had to listen to things that were very disturbing to me as a mother. Listening to how he was run down...”
The two-week trial heard how Nashon had been targeted on numerous occasions because he spoke to police about an older incident. When he was pursued on August 24, it would have come as no surprise to Nashon.
The murder was actually recorded on a neighbour’s phone. During the trial, the jury was shown this footage. Princess had to leave, while her daughters remained in the court.
“Knowing my children had to see that footage,” she says, “was one of the worst things. It was like I had been stabbed myself.
“I remember running outside that day. I could see him lying in his own blood. I actually heard him say: ‘Don’t let mum see me.’
“That memory keeps coming back to me. I tried to get near but I was held back. I just wish I could have held him, comforted him.
“He was expecting attack. To be honest, he wasn’t dealing with it well. He didn’t like confrontation.” During the trial, the court had been told Nashon was suffering symptoms of depression.
Only nine days before the attack, Nashon became a dad for the first time to his daughter, named Milla. And only minutes before the attack, Nashon and his girlfriend had been pushing the pram down Essex Road.
“Becoming a dad was the proudest moment of his life,” Princess says. “Before she was even born, he had spent all his money on her! He just wanted to make sure she was provided for.
“That day, he had taken the baby to meet his dad for the first time. I just wish he had driven his car when he left the house. But he wanted to be a proud dad. He wanted to push the pram.
“I see Milla very often. We are very close and we’ll continue to be part of her life.”
Alongside Princess in the family living room was Nashon’s brother, Mark Barton.
“It has changed our lives forever,” he adds. “To see my family, my sisters, go through such pain – it’s the worst. I’ve been having dreams of being outside, being there to protect him.
“I saw my brother lying in the hospital bed. I saw him lying in the morgue. We wanted to bury him in a Manchester United shirt. We were told we couldn’t because his body had disintegrated. How do you deal with that?
“I went to get something to eat after the verdict on Monday. I pulled over in my car and burst into tears.”
Mark is a community worker in Hackney, specialising in gangs and youth offending.
“I have to forgive Nashon’s killers. I won’t be able to forget what they did, but if I don’t forgive, how can I be part of the community to try and tackle these issues? I’ve still got the passion to help.
“I want to be part of the process and help save people’s lives. Lot of other people have died in the same way as Nashon and we have to come together to resolve this.”
He adds: “Our family is one big giant jigsaw puzzle. When Nashon died, it was like the puzzle crumbled. But my niece: she’s now part of the puzzle. She is Nashon’s legacy.”
Zambon, Berhane and the 16-year-old boy will be sentenced at the Old Bailey on April 27.