Father vows to find killers of his son one year after his death

BY CALUM FRASER
calum@slpmedia.co.uk

For months after his son was stabbed to death, Michael Jonas would fall asleep in an armchair gazing at pictures of his boy.

Today, November 2, marks a year since Mr Jonas’s 17-year-old son, also called Michael, was murdered in Betts

Park, Anerley.  The case is unsolved. But Mr Jonas, 54, of Corry Drive, Brixton, spends every spare second on finding his son’s killers.

Mr Jonas will mark the anniversary by inviting Michael’s friends and family, and anyone from nearby estates, to help him reclaim the park for the community.

Michael Jonas, 17

Mr Jonas, who has five other children, said: “Michael would have been 18 on October 20. I spent the day in the cemetery. My boy would have been 18, just starting to be a man, just confirming that ‘yes, daddy, you can rely on me. I can do this and I can do that’. “That has been taken away from me by some unscrupulous people.

Sometimes I sit here and wonder to myself what their parents are doing about it. Some of them must know.

“I’ve spent so many nights awake thinking about what happened to Michael and looking at his pictures. “Nobody loves one child more than another, but we love them all in a special and unique way. Michael took a space in my heart and now there’s a hole where Michael was.”

The police arrested six teenagers at the beginning of the year, but the Crown Prosecution Service dropped the case.

CCTV footage was released in May showing a group of boys cycling down Anerley Road towards Betts Park 20 minutes before Michael’s murder.

A £20,000 reward is being offered for anyone who has any information that leads to the identification, arrest and prosecution of his killers.

Mr Jonas, who moved to Brixton from Jamaica in the 1980s, is convinced the killers are known in the community.

He said: “The community need to know that giving information about Michael’s death does not make them an informer or a snitch. “Michael deserves justice. If we are going to be keeping secrets amongst ourselves then these bad people will think they can get away with it.”

“If I could speak to the killers I would say, how could someone have hurt you that much that you could kill my boy?”

There have been a number of serious assaults in Betts Park in the past few years. A man was robbed at knifepoint in September and there was a stabbing days before Michael was killed last year.

Penge and Cator ward councillor Kathy Bance called the park a “no-go zone” and urged Bromley council to install CCTV cameras in the park.

Mr Jonas, who works as a bus driver, said: “Betts was Michael’s local park. His mother’s house backed on to it. “I taught him how to ride a bike there. Now if I am going past I have to stop by. I get out of the car and walk to where Michael was killed. I stay there for a while and it makes me feel like I have spoken with him.”

Mr Jonas has been monitoring boys on the surrounding estates closely. Some have been posting drill rap videos on YouTube which he repeatedly listens to for any reference to Michael’s murder.

He said: “Penge has lately developed a gang. Whatever the name of the area, there is always someone who is going to try and show some authority among children. “They’re not an organised group. It’s just a group of guys who want to make a name for themselves and show that they can make a nuisance.

Most of them don’t go to school or college. Most of them are not under a proper guardian. “Then they become the target for adults to use them for whatever reason – drugs, violence, settling disputes.”

The ongoing investigation is being led by Detective Chief Inspector Richard Leonard, of the Met’s Homicide and Major Crime Command, and officers are renewing their appeal for new information alongside CCTV footage of five male suspects riding bikes.

DCI Leonard said: “People are not coming forward and I refuse to believe there is not someone out there who does know who killed Michael.

“The problem we have with Betts Park is that only one road is covered by CCTV – the others are not. “My impression is that these individuals escaped the park by another route and we can’t plot them coming out.

If we had CCTV of them coming out of the park then we can draw an inference angle and place them in the park. “I have been told, speaking to the local police, that people try to avoid the park at certain times at night because they do know that certain young kids hang around there.

“In the weeks and days before Michael’s murder, there had been a number of assaults. I think there had been a stabbing there four days before.

If this was in the middle of an estate it would be a lot easier to find the killer. “We had the shooting last week in Greenwich – that is bang in the middle of an estate.

You got loads of people who witnessed what happened. Then we have descriptions and we can build from there.” Councillor Kate Lymer, executive councillor for public protection and enforcement, said: “Our thoughts obviously remain with the family and friends of Michael Jonas.

“Sadly, this type of crime report is all too frequent across London but fortunately remains comparatively rare in our borough.

“CCTV does not stop these type of incidents either as countless examples show – we have raised this matter with the police and they too were not convinced that with the multiple entrances to this park, that CCTV was the solution, with the large area of park and dark space at night never able to be covered by lighting.

Part of the solution is that we must support the Police in their endeavours and I would encourage anyone who knows anything about this dreadful crime to come forwards, potentially using Crimestoppers in confidence.”

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