The father of school boy Jermaine Goupall has spoken of how he will never come to terms with the way his son was senselessly murdered just minutes from home.
Stanley Goupall and his daughter Tilisha spoke to The Chronicle after a gang were jailed for total of 72 and a half years for killing the innocent 15-year-old.
A single stab wound to his femoral vein caused him to bleed to death – after he was ambushed by a masked gang fuelled by hate over postcode rivalry and whose members had boasted of their intentions to shank – a reference to stab – in a YouTube music video which attracted more than 80,000 hits.
Jermaine had an ‘infectious’ smile which would light up a room, was sporty, idolised his grandmother, loved his cat called Happy and was ambitious for his future, said the Goupalls. He was already researching careers in gas engineering and architecture because he loved to draw and build.
The grief is still palpable at the family home where Stanley burns a candle in the front window of the living room, where a large photograph of a smiling Jermaine is surrounded by candles and flowers.
The spot in Georgia Road, where Jermaine’s life was so brutally cut short, is marked with tributes and two lanterns with candles burning bright throughout the night.
Mr Goupall, an electrical engineer, can not understand why his son was stolen from him on that fateful August night. He said: “I am not just saying this because I’m Jermaine’s parent but he could walk to Thornton Heath to Croydon to Streatham to Norbury, he could walk in any area with no fear of feeling in threat of his life because he was not entangled or involved in any bad stuff.
“For this sort of thing to happen to Jermaine in such a way I find very disappointing because Jermaine grew up in this area, he’s been in Thornton Heath all of his life ..he had no disputes with anyone. If he couldn’t be in his own area where could be?”
Tilisha and her father are now trying to get a plaque in Jermaine’s memory on the spot were he died. She said: “We want to do something that holds value to Jermaine. That he’s just not another statistic in 2017. Not just another name in a newspaper, he’s going to be somebody that we hold a lasting memory to within the community. As my dad rightly said, this is the area where he grew up in, where he felt safe. You don’t expect anything to happen on your doorstep… no one does.”
Jermaine went to nursery in Thornton Heath and then Downsview Primary School and socialised with the same group of friends he had grown up with.
He attended Norbury Liberty Church and enjoyed after school activities including swimming and rugby.
Tilisha, his older sister, said: “Jermaine was a humble, happy sociable person. We were the closest. If I could say he was the other side to me.. it would be he was my heart. We were always together. Everyone said we were two peas in a pod. It’s just really sad, that these young people not so far away from Jermaine’s own age have taken somebody that wanted life and had so much ambition.”
It was the school holidays and the St Josephs College student was returning home after a night out at the pictures when he became caught up in a feud between the CR0 gang – named after the Croydon and New Addington postcode – who had driven to Thornton Heath looking for the rival CR7 gang.
The frightened teenager, faced with masked youths armed with knives and machetes did what any one would do and ran. Stanley says he believes his son was stabbed after falling as he was chased.
Tilisha, 25, who works in HR, rushed to the scene after police and one of Jermaine’s friends called at the house to say Jermaine had been stabbed.
As emergency services tried to save her brother’s life Tilisha was still unaware of the serious nature of his injury, until she explains: “They called me over and sat me down and a few local neighbours were comforting me, then they told me that they had tried to work on him and there was nothing more they could do. I blanked out from that point. I just felt like I was in a daze.”
Stanley, adds: “It is hard to bear the pain. We got a certain justice but with all what we are doing it still won’t bring back Jermaine. The killers families have got their children but we now have a big hole in our lives which is very deep. This will never be repairable no matter how long. From our family point of view it has stopped a generation running through our family. I need them to feel and understand that.”
Stanley said that the family are also looking to set up a foundation in recognition of Jermaine’s life and to tackle what Tilisha believes is a lack of investment in young people. She added: “Jermaine was important to the community. He was important to our family. He’s someone valuable that we have lost. We don’t want that to be in vain.”
Junior Simpson, 17 of New Addington, Adam Benzahi, 21, of Carshalton, and Samuel Oliver-Rowland, 18, of Waddon, were found guilty of murder by joint enterprise. CR0 gang members Saskia Haye-Elliott, 18, from New Addington, was convicted of manslaughter and 18-year-old Daniel Luke, acquitted.