”ËBang Bang you’re Dead’
Al Hillier gives us his take on knife and gun crime and recounts personal memories of a timeline of violence, tragedy and death.
We all know that guns were invented to do one thing, shoot things. People, animals or when there are no birds, people or other animals around, targets and strange little clay things that represent them will just have to do. Knives and various sharp instruments were created to cut up our food etc but also have the same capacity to kill.
According to who you want to believe, the criminal use of guns in the UK is on the decline. The Home Office produces quarterly updates on crime in England and Wales. These include data on firearms offences (excluding air guns). The latest Update was published in January 2011 which reported that there was a 6% drop in the number of firearms offences (to 7764) in the Year to September 2010.
More details were given in an earlier report for the Year to March 2010 and the following data are from that report.
Handguns were used in 3705 offences, a decrease of 13 per cent from 2008/09
Shotguns were used in 585 offences, a decrease of 5 per cent from 2008/09
Imitation weapons were used in 1486 offences, a decrease of 2 per cent from 2008/09
What they failed to mention was that knife crime in London and a few other major cities in the UK has doubled.
“Statistics are like a drunk with a lamppost, used more for support than illumination”ÂWinston Churchill
I could now bang on about the sordid and Machiavellian collection of statistics and all that jazz and give you a list of contradictory information that would bewilder the bewildered, so I’m not going to. If you’re interested enough to get to the bottom of that cesspit then some simple research will take you to a veritable avalanche of information, misinformation and manipulated statistics that would politicise this piece and steer it away somewhat from what is really important, but having said that, the one thing that I will say is that there must be a distinction between, what appear to be ”Ëverified’ statistics and the gargantuan amount of incidents that are unreported, unresolved and unsolved, which never form the basis of an accurate assessment.
Friday evening 17 July 1998
Patrick Ferguson a trainee plasterer was watching his TV when three armed men kicked down his front door ran up his stairs and shot him dead where he sat.
I was out having a few beers that night and came home to see the police as busy as bees with some of their paraphernalia still being unloaded from the back of an unmarked van, The flashing blue lights of a dozen police cars eerily silhouetted the whole scene and as the shooting was less than 50 yards from where I lived I was allowed to duck under the Police Tape and walk briefly amongst the action to make my way home.
I opened my front door and instinctively looked in on my kids. I kissed them all then I poured myself a large one and thought to myself that one life had been brutally extinguished but more than one life had just been ruined”Â¦Ferguson’s young daughter had witnessed the killing.
As I sipped at my drink, I knew that Ferguson’s body was still warm up in his flat”Â¦and from my back door (which opens out to an unusual ampetheatre of gardens surrounded by low mansion flats) on this warm summer night I could see the lights from his upstairs flat and could clearly see the police moving slowly around the ”Ëcrime scene’ in their disposable boiler suits”Â¦
I just poured another drink and shut the back door ”Â¦”Â¦”Â¦.
Bang ”Â¦”Â¦.your dead
Saturday August 28th 2004
It was a nice warm evening; my back doors were wide open allowing a gentle breeze to cool down my ”Ëhells’ kitchen, which was buzzing. I had some Stranglers tunes up fairly high on my comp and the TV was still flickering images from the Olympic Games on an evening of solid gold for British track events.
I was busy cooking a curry and the ice-cold lager was slipping down a treat. In the silence between tracks I could hear voices, angry Asian voices booming around the gardens. I turned down the music, stuck my head out of the back door and listened to a heated ”ËRow’.
After a few minutes I got bored with the show and whacked up my music and carried on cooking. About 10 minutes later I was standing by the back door when I heard what sounded like a single gunshot. There were no screams; in fact there was no other discernable sound at all. I called my wife Bev and said “ Well I don’t know too much about guns”Â¦but I think I just heard a gunshot in the flats”Â”Â¦Within minutes the place was swarming with old bill and once again I was witnessing the now familiar sight of Police in boiler suits and tents and tapes everywhere.
A Twenty something Tamil Asian man had been shot dead as he sat at the wheel of his car”Â¦”Â¦..One shot to the head”Â¦”Â¦
Bang ”Â¦”Â¦.your dead
Saturday Evening April 30th 2005
I slipped off the M.25 and drifted effortlessly on to the A1. Sliding around five ways corner I made my way toward Hale lane in Edgware, it was about 8.25pm
At around 8pm Azelle Rodney was in the back seat of a silver Volkswagen Golf, his car, containing two other black men had been stopped in Hale Lane, Edgware, North London and officers in a police vehicle tried to shoot it’s tyres to prevent it escaping. Unmarked police cars quickly surrounded the car and Scotland Yard detectives, backed by members of its SO19 armed squad launched into an operation to arrest the three men as they waited to meet a Colombian drug dealer.
Detectives from the Metropolitan Police Serious Crime Directorate believed that the men planned to rob and kidnap the Colombian drug dealer, who they considered to be a rival.
Police sources allege that Mr. Rodney and his two accomplices were in possession of a Colt self-loading pistol and blank and gas-firing convertible weapons. The Police officers had decided that there was sufficient ”Ëintelligence’ to establish that the trio were intent on endangering life and when Mr. Rodney ”Ëmade a sudden movement’ it was considered that he was reaching for a gun.
One officer – said to be an experienced “specialist fire arms officer”, and the most highly trained member of the SO19 team at the scene ”â opened fire.
Witnesses at the scene heard at least two single shots and then what appeared to be a ”Ëburst’ of automatic machine gunfire. There were no shots returned from the Golf.
As I approached the scene I was waved past by a frantic rozzer with a strange and detached look on his face”Â¦
I drove through Burnt Oak Broadway and went straight home”Â¦”Â¦”Â¦..I opened my front door, kissed all of my kids, closed my back door and poured myself another drink.
Bang Bang your dead”Â¦”Â¦”Â¦”Â¦”Â¦.
Monday June 20th 2011
Popped in to see my old man, had a cuppa and a natter, then swept out onto the East End Rd directly opposite the Crematorium where I had recently joined with friends to celebrate the life of Andy Dunkley.
I glanced over and gave an almost subconscious ”Ënod’ to all of my friends and relatives who have passed through this place and those that remain there.
Ripping down the East End Rd I hooked a right into Manor view and headed up toward the railway bridge. As I approached the junction of Station Rd and Rosemary Avenue not 500 yards from my old mans gaff I saw the outline of a policeman standing slightly in the Rd, slowing all oncoming traffic and heard the deafening chattering of a helicopter right overhead.
The now familiar Blue and White Tape was once again evident as I came to a brief standstill. Glancing down Rosemary Avenue I could see the white boiler suited SOCO’s and assembled officers once again going about their gruesome business.
I knew better than to ask the copper what was going on as his answer was already known to me, so I stuck the car in gear and pulled away.
Later that evening I found out that a “well educated woman” was found stabbed to death at her home. Police were called to the victim’s house in Rosemary Avenue, Finchley, Monday morning at around 11.30am. Forensic officers and police helicopters arrived at the scene, where the woman, who has not been named by police, was pronounced dead.
In a local report online it was quickly reported and one female resident spoke of her grief!!!!!!!!!
“I am in shock. Only a few weeks ago I said hello to her on the street and now she is gone.
“This is unbelievable. She was well-educated and such a nice and polite woman.”
Neighbors are in shock and one resident who asked not to be named, said: “It is horrible to think such a horrifying crime happened on your doorstep.”
A 65-year-old man has been arrested and is in police custody.
No age barrier, No Class barrier, No sense.
“The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”ÂMartin Luther King Jr (1929 – 1968)