The family of Jayden Moodie, who was stabbed to death in east London, have said he was a boy with a huge heart who had no connection to gang activity, and criticised media coverage of the case.
Jayden, 14, was riding a motor scooter when he was hit by a black Mercedes in Leyton on Tuesday evening. He was then stabbed repeatedly.
His cousin Leon Green read a family statement at the scene of the attack on Bickley Road on Thursday afternoon, with Jayden’s mother, Jada Bailey, also present.
“His character was infectious, and anyone who met him fell in love with his charm. He had a huge heart and would do anything for anyone, especially his family. He will be sincerely missed,” the statement said.
Jayden “had so many hopes and dreams”, loved sport and was due to start at a boxing academy this month, it added.
The statement said his family found it “very distressing” that the majority of press reports concerning his death mentioned London gangs. It said “no one deserves to die in that horrific way”.
Green said: “I would like to stress that Jayden had recently moved from Nottingham to London and had absolutely no affiliation with gangs. The focus needs to be on the fact that he has been brutally murdered in cold blood …
“If there are people on our streets that are capable of killing a 14-year-old child then no one is safe, and they need to be caught and brought to justice.”
Homicide detectives said they are keeping an open mind about the motive, but multiple sources said a significant line of inquiry was that the attackers were involved in drug dealing in London and beyond in “county lines” operations.
Police believe three men got out of the car and stabbed Jayden repeatedly before driving off, leaving him fatally wounded on the ground. Within 40 minutes, he was pronounced dead at the scene. Jayden is the youngest homicide victim in London for more than a year.
The black Mercedes B-Class believed to have hit Jayden was recovered in the Carlisle Road area of Leyton on Wednesday afternoon.
On Tuesday night, witnesses described how the 14-year-old was knocked off his motor scooter. His helmet was thrown 10 metres away by the impact, before his attackers stabbed him, including in the back.
His killing was one of at least three violent incidents in five days in Leyton, in the east London borough of Waltham Forest. The incidents are not believed to be connected.
There was a growing pile of tributes to Jayden at the scene on Thursday morning. “Taken too soon. Hoping your family can find some peace,” one said. Among those who left flowers were a group of Jayden’s classmates from Heathcote school in Chingford, who said he was always making people laugh.
One local, who did not want to be named, said he had lived all his life around the corner from Bickley Road, where the boy was killed. “I’ve seen this place change big time,” he said.
“We were able to play on the streets as kids and didn’t have to worry about anything. If we had a dispute with someone as kids, it would be a little fistfight and then we would shake hands at the end of the day and it was done.”
The man said he had three children and did not let them out of his sight. “The days of that street lamp coming on and knowing you’ve got to go home are gone,” he added.
He said it often took police hours to respond to reports of crimes. “People are able to run free and do what they want,” he said, pointing to a suspected knife attack that took place a few streets away from Bickley Road on Wednesday afternoon despite a heavy police presence in the area.
“They know there’s more chance that they will get caught, but they just don’t have any fear.”