George Kinsella: ‘Thousands of kids have pledged never to carry a knife in Ben’s name – but it’s not enough’
PUBLISHED: 12:40 27 March 2017 | UPDATED: 16:25 25 May 2017
Nine years on from Ben Kinsella’s horrific murder, his family is as determined as ever to fight knife crime. The Gazette speaks to his dad George.
George Kinsella will never be able to lead a normal life.
On June 29, 2008, he was holidaying in Kent. “We had a chalet which we would go to on weekends. We had been there with Ben only the previous weekend.
“On this particular weekend, [wife] Deborah and I were down with our daughter, Georgia, and one of her friends.
“We got a call in the middle of the night. Something had happened to Ben. That night, we lived every parents’ worst nightmare.”
Ben, 16, was stabbed by three thugs in North Road in the Cally. He had been out celebrating the end of his GCSEs. He was murdered over a feud earlier that night that had nothing to do with him. It became one of the UK’s most notorious murder cases.
Taxi driver George, of Barnsbury, says: “I try and lead as normal a life as possible. I have daughters, and also grandchildren now. But we lost our only son. Our lives have never been the same. I still find it difficult to get to sleep, nine years on.”
It means he, Deborah and daughter Brooke focus their energy on something postive: the Ben Kinsella Trust. Its exhibition, at Finsbury Library, educates school children about the “choices” of knife crime.
“We’ve had 9,000 kids visit the exhibition,” he says. “Part of it asks them to sign a pledge never to carry a knife, completely voluntary. About 95 per cent have signed. I think that’s our biggest achievement.”
But he is also realistic: “After Ben’s murder, progress was made. The figures initially dipped. But kids are getting back involved.
“My opinion is stop and search shouldn’t have been downscaled. If police do it the right way, I’d rather be a parent with my kid telling me they got stopped and searched, rather than an officer telling me my kid got stabbed.”
This month, Sarah Adegboyega won the Ben Kinsella Award for her work as a cadet. George, 57, says it’s just as important for the trust to celebrate people like her.
“We hear too much about the bad people in Islington,” he adds. “Especially with the gang brawls recently on the front page of the Gazette. The Ben Kinsella Award shows there are far more good people in the borough than bad – it’s important we recognise that.”