‘I have absolutely no knowledge of any gang affiliation’: Former BBC DJ Tim Westwood denies fuelling London’s violence by promoting ‘drill’ music rap videos
- The capital’s violence kicked off when a 17-year-old was fatally gunned down
- Rhyhiem Ainsworth Barton was found with gunshot wounds on Saturday night
- He was a rapper with the Moscow17 crew promoted by ex-BBC DJ Tim Westwood
- His mother returned to the scene yesterday to clean his blood from the ground
- On Sunday, two boys were shot in Harrow; a third is thought to have been injured
- Elsewhere, three men died in stabbings in Liverpool, Luton and Macclesfield
Former BBC DJ Tim Westwood has denied knowing that a murdered teenager who appeared on his TV show rapping about stabbing rivals had any links to London’s gangs or violence.
Mr Westwood has also denied profiting from enthusiastically promoting drill music on his YouTube channel – despite being a genre of music which celebrates gang life and focuses on attacking rivals.
Rhyhiem Ainsworth Barton was a member of the masked Moscow17 crew from Kennington who are involved in a violent feud with rivals the Zone 2 gang from nearby Peckham.
The 17-year-old, who was shot dead in the street on Saturday, appeared in a mask alongside Westwood last year in a rap video viewed on YouTube more than 170,000 times.
Westwood called Moscow17 ‘legendary’ before they rapped about ‘splashing’ rivals – slang for stabbing someone repeatedly until they pour with blood – in a film where they appeared to be smoking cannabis.
Today he said: ‘The artists featured on TimWestwoodTV are rap groups and we have absolutely no knowledge of any alleged gang affiliation’.
Rhyhiem Ainsworth Barton (right) was a member of the masked Moscow17 crew from Kennington promoted by former BBC DJ Tim Westwood
The 17-year-old, circled, who was shot dead in the street on Saturday, appeared in a mask alongside Westwood last year in a rap video viewed on YouTube more than 170,000 times
A weekend of violence in the capital kicked off when Rhyhiem (pictured) was fatally gunned down in Southwark on Saturday
Pretana Morgan, whose 17-year-old son Rhyhiem Ainsworth Barton was shot dead in south London on Saturday, returned to the scene yesterday to scrub his blood from the pavement
Violent incidents were recorded across the UK through the Bank Holiday weekend
Today the former BBC DJ paid tribute to Rhyhiem, calling him a ‘very talented young artist’, but denied he knew that he was involved in the world of South London gangs.
He said: ‘For the avoidance of doubt, there is no payment or fee to feature on TimWestwoodTV.
THE ‘DRILL’ RAP MUSIC FUELLING GANG VIOLENCE IN LONDON
‘Drill’ music, a hip-hop subgenre, is driving the feuding gang war in London, community leaders have warned.
Hundreds of videos on YouTube feature UK rappers threatening and provoking people from rival areas.
To ‘drill’ means to fight or scrap and the violent lyrics focus on gang life, drugs, guns and killing.
In one video viewed nearly three million times, rapper Digga D boasts about having to bleach his knife after using it to attack someone.
In another, entitled ‘Mummy’s Kitchen’, rappers Loski and Mayski, who are thought to be Londoners, boast about taking a blade from the family home.
In the videos, which are filmed across the city, performers take care to ensure their faces are covered.
The link with fatal attacks committed against young Londoners is made clear under the videos on YouTube, where commentators speculate about which groups were responsible.
‘Tim Westwood TV provides an opportunity for young people to pursue their aspirations and dreams of a having a career as an artist and gives them an outlet for their talent’.
Rhyhiem, who used the name GB, was also on a leaked list of rappers Scotland Yard believed was promoting violence and goading rivals in online videos, according to The Times.
Mr Westwood said they have no knowledge of a Metropolitan Police database’, adding: ‘The police have never contacted TimWestwoodTV over any video on the channel. We support any initiative that would stop the violence’.
Her son’s murder was one of five shootings in London over the Bank Holiday weekend including a botched drive-by where a 13-year-old was blasted in the face as he walked along the high street in Harrow with his parents.
There were also three fatal stabbings in Liverpool, Luton and Macclesfield, Cheshire.
Rhyhiem’s murder emerged after paramedics and police were called to reports of gunshots on Cooks Road in Kennington, south London, on Saturday at just after 6pm.
Rhyhiem was found on nearby Warham Street with a gunshot injury.
The 17-year-old rapper had ‘so much potential’, his mother said as she tearfully told of her ‘handsome boy.’ Ms Morgan called for a stop to the violence.
Speaking at the scene of the crime on Sunday, she said: ‘Let my son be the last and be an example to everyone. Just let it stop. What must be, must be.’
Ms Morgan said her son was not in a gang and he had been ‘trying to make a difference’ by learning to work with children.
The following day, an innocent boy of 13 was accidentally shot in the head as he walked through Wealdstone, northwest London, with his parents.
The boy was the youngest victim of the wave of gun, knife and acid attacks across Britain over a bloody Bank Holiday weekend.
The teenager was an innocent bystander who had been walking down the street with his parents in Harrow, north west London, when he was hit by shotgun pellets.
He was caught in the crossfire when a 15-year-old was attacked at around 1.15pm on Sunday in High Street, Wealdstone.
Scotland Yard said the older boy was found to have suffered head injuries, caused by a number of shotgun pellets.
Police were alerted to the second boy injured nearby minutes after the 13-year-old boy.
Detective Chief Superintendent Simon Rose, Harrow borough commander, said: ‘It would appear that the first victim was approached by two male suspects, one in possession of a shotgun – and shots were fired, injuring him and an entirely innocent member of the public.
‘This was a callous, reckless and brazen act, without any thought by those responsible for the fact that there were families with children and people in the High Street enjoying their weekend. This was quite simply appalling.’
Fatah Warsame died after being stabbed in Liverpool city centre early on Sunday morning
Fatah, from Cardiff, was knifed in the chest in Hanover Street at around 4am on a bloody Bank Holiday weekend in the UK
Waryam Hussein, 20, was stabbed to death in Bishopscote Road in Luton on Sunday afternoon
A 13-year-old boy who survived being accidentally shot in the head is the youngest person caught in a wave of attacks across Britain over a bloody Bank Holiday weekend
A 13-year-old boy who survived being accidentally shot in the head is the youngest person caught in a wave of attacks across Britain over a bloody Bank Holiday weekend. Pictured, officers at the scene in Harrow
BANK HOLIDAY BLOODBATH: A TIMELINE OF THE VIOLENCE
6.05pm – Rhyhiem Ainsworth Barton is found shot dead in Warham Street in Southwark, south London
4am – Fatah Warsame, 20, from Cardiff, was fatally attacked on Hanover Street in Liverpool city centre
5.20am – Three men, 17, 22, and 27, are injured after a ‘noxious substance’ thrown over them in Dalston, east London
1.15pm – Two boys, aged 13 and 15, shot in Harrow, north west London. It is thought a third person sustained an arm injury, but he left prior to the arrival of the emergency services
4.40pm – Waryam Hussein, 20, was stabbed to death in Bishopscote Road in Luton
6.30pm – A 22-year-old was found with gunshot wounds in New Cross Road in south east London
8.50pm – A 37-year-old man was stabbed to death in Macclesfield, Cheshire
9pm – A 43-year-old man was stabbed in the neck on Buckingham Avenue, Perivale, west London
2.45pm – A man was taken to hospital after being shot in Clayton, Manchester. His condition was not known
4.40pm – A 30-year-old is shot in New Cross, south east London. His condition is not believed to be life-threatening
4.50pm – A victim, who is thought to be 17, is stabbed in Leystonstone Road in east London. His condition was initially deemed critical, but is now thought to be not life-threatening
Rhyhiem’s mother, Pretana Morgan (pictured), has called for a stop to the violence
Rhyhiem was the 62nd victim to be killed in the capital this year after London’s murder rate overtook New York’s in February and March
Rhyhiem Ainsworth Barton was found with fatal gunshot wounds in Warham Street Southwark at 6.05pm on Saturday
Last night a crowd of around 100 people gathered outside the victim’s estate in Kennington after the family had a private meeting with Sadiq Khan, who joined prayers for the 17-year-old gunned down in the street.
They then marched on neighbouring Peckham where Rhyhiem’s Moscow17 gang is involved in a bloody feud with rivals Zone 2.
The London Mayor and the Met face a crisis after days of violent attacks in the capital including 11 gun, knife and acid attacks in the capital in recent days.
Last night there were more knife attacks in Hackney, Woolwich and Twickenham.
Last night a 16-year-old in Hackney was stabbed repeatedly with a machete after a fight on the Nightingale Estate at 4pm. Another victim, a man aged 18, was treated for leg injuries.
Another victim, in his late teens, was stabbed in the leg during an evening rush-hour incident near Woolwich Arsenal station, south-east London.
Police had again received reports of a fight, and a man was later arrested on suspicion of possessing an offensive weapon.
Less than two hours earlier, police in west London were called to The Embankment, Twickenham, to a teenager with a non-life threatening stab wound to his arm.
Rhyhiem Barton’s mother blamed the police for her son’s murder – saying they failed to protect him.
Sadiq Khan prays with Pretana Morgan, mother of murdered rapper Rhyiem Barton (wearing a green jacket) ahead of a ‘peace’ march in London
Speaking ahead of the march, Rhyhiem’s mother said: ‘We need this violence to stop’
Pretana Morgan (centre), the mother of murdered teenager Rhyhiem Ainsworth Barton, walks with her daughter (left) at the start of a solidarity march on Tuesday
The teenager, who was the 62nd victim to be killed in the capital so far this year, is said to have been a member of the Moscow17 crew from Kennington who are involved in a violent feud with rivals Zone2 from nearby Peckham which has escalated through various YouTube videos.
Last year he appeared alongside Tim Westwood in a YouTube rap video where he was seen wearing a balaclava and a hoodie, waving a spliff around as he spoke about ‘splashing’ rivals – slang for stabbing someone repeatedly until they pour with blood – and bragged his crew is ‘known for capping’ its enemies which means shooting someone.
Yesterday his godmother Lacey Main called for YouTube to take responsibility in a packed public meeting on knife crime attended by local Labour MPs Harriet Hartman and Neil Coyle, along with Tottenham MP David Lammy and Sophie Linden, the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime.
She said: ‘Why do they put the music on YouTube? Take it out.
‘You have the authority, all of you sitting down there.
‘Every time they put a video up – shut it down.
‘These children have no talent. They are actually cowards.’ She went on: ‘If it comes from a gang, bring it down.
‘All the police know the gangs, they know about these videos, boasting and challenging each other and they know what they lead to.
‘They lead to evil, they lead to murder like this one. Don’t give them the platform, don’t give them the satisfaction.
‘The comments under these videos of threats and challenging people to do violence say things like “you are drilling hard.”
‘I wrote a message under one of these videos saying how foolish it was, and they just posted it again elsewhere so nobody could see my comment.
‘I have been telling police about this for three years but they do not work with YouTube, Snapchat, any of them. No one takes responsibility and there is blood in the streets.
‘Every time they put up a video bragging and boasting it should be taken down before this happens again.
‘Then the youths, they come to this area and film themselves on their rivals’ turf so the other group responds. It escalates and now my godson is dead.’
Tragic death toll: The rising number of lives taken on the streets of London in 2018
JANUARY – 12 deaths, including one late on December 31
31 December, Kyall Parnell, 17: Stabbed to death in Lambeth
1 January, Steve Frank Narvaez-Arias, 20: Stabbed in the chest on New Year’s Day at a flat party in a council estate off Old Street in Islington, north London. After moving to the UK from Ecuador, the 20-year-old was reading physics and aerospace at Hertfordshire University and hoped to become a pilot
3 January, Elizabeta Lacatusu, 44: Found bleeding to death on Norfolk Road, in Ilford, after she had her throat slashed. She worked at a restaurant in the east London town and was returning home when she was stabbed to death
6 January, Vijay Patel, 49: Mr Patel was beaten to death in Barnet
Yaya Mbye, 26, was stabbed in Hackney on January 28 (left). Right, Daniel Frederick, 34, was killed metres from his home in Hackney after attending a hospital appointment for his pregnant partner on January 8
8 January, Daniel Frederick, 34: Daniel was killed metres from his home in Hackney after attending a hospital appointment for his pregnant partner
9 January, Dami Odeyingbo, 18: Stabbed in Bromley
11 January, Harry Uzoka, 25: Harry, who was on the books of Premier Model Management and had modelled for brands including Mercedes and Zara – was stabbed in Shepherd’s Bush. Neighbours reported a shout of ‘hand it over’ in the melee which involved several men
24 January, Seyed Azim Khan, age unknown: Died from a head injury in Redbridge
Khader Saleh, 25, (left) was stabbed in the Hammersmith and Fulham area on January 31. Right, Dami Odeyingbo, 18, was stabbed in Bromley on January 9
28 January, Yaya Mbye, 26: Stabbed in Hackney
29 January, Juan Olmos Saca, 39: Died six days after being found stabbed at an address in Peckham
31 January, Lily-Mai Saint George, one: One-year-old Lily-Mai was found dead in Haringey. The Met Police say her cause of death remains unknown
31 January, Khader Saleh, 25: The 25-year-old was stabbed in the Hammersmith and Fulham area
FEBRUARY – 14 deaths
3 February, Kwabena Nelson, 22: Ambushed in Tottenham in the early hours where he was fatally stabbed
3 February, Hasan Ozkan, 19: Stabbed to death in Abbey Road, Barking
5 February, Juan Olmos Saca: Died in hospital after being stabbed in Peckham
8 February, Hannah Leonard, 55: Fatally stabbed in Brays Tower, Primrose Hill
11 February, Sabri Chibani, 19: Stabbed in Streatham Common
12 February, Bulent Kabala, 41: The taxi driver was shot dead in a ‘targeted hit’ on a roundabout in Barnet
Elizabeta Lacatusu, 44, was found bleeding to death on Norfolk Road, in Ilford, after she had her throat slashed on January 3
13 February, Saeeda Hussain, 54: Found with critical injuries at an address in Ilford and pronounced dead at the scene
14 February, Promise Nkenda, 17: Fatally stabbed in Newham, east London
15 February, Mark Smith, 48: Mr Smith was found injured in Chingford, and died shortly afterwards
17 February, Lewis Blackman, 19: Lewis, who grew up on the Peckwater estate in Kentish Town, was killed in Kensington. Witnesses told how a gang of about eight youths, some armed with sticks, shouted ‘let’s chase him down’, before he was stabbed
17 February, Josef Boci, 30: Jozef was beaten up in the street in Greenwich and died in hospital
Hannah Leonard, who was 55, was found dead on February 9 in a flat in Camden, North London
19 February, Rotimi Oshibanjo, 26: Rotimi was fatally stabbed inside a property in the Halliday Square housing estate
20 February, Sadiq Mohamed, 20: The aspiring accountant was found with serious stab wounds in Malden Road, in Belsize Park
20 February, Abdikarim Hassan, 17: Abdikarim died in the street after being attacked in Camden
20 February, name unknown, 24: Shot in Westminster
25 February, Michael Boyle, 44: Stabbed in Southwark. Mr Boyle, from Galashiels, Scotland died of multiple organ failure after being stabbed at a property in Southwark. He was found on February 25 but died on March 10
MARCH – 23 deaths
1 March, Christopher Beaumont, 42: Stabbed in Hammersmith and Fulham
5 March, Kelva Smith, 20: Found stabbed in South Norwood, Croydon and pronounced dead at the scene
5 March, Laura Cecilia Navarrete De Figueira, 47: Police launched a murder investigation after Laura Cecilia Navarrete De Figueira was found with stab wounds at her home in Twickenham. An hour earlier the body of her husband Figueira de Faria and the bodies of Claudio, 10, and Joaquin, seven, were discovered on the beach at Birling Gap, in Eastbourne, East Sussex
8 March, Kelvin Odunuyi, 19: Shot in Haringey
12 March, Julian Joseph, 36: Murdered in Lewisham, cause of death as yet unknown
13 March, Nikolay Glushkov, 68: Russian businessman was found dead in his home in New Malden. He died from compression to the neck
14 March, Lyndon Davis, 18: The youngest to have been killed in March, was found suffering from a single stab wound in Chadwell Heath, east London
14 March, Joseph Williams-Torres, 20: Killed as he sat in a stationary car in Essex Close, Walthamstow
16 March, Naomi Hersi, 36: Stabbed in Hounslow. Hersi, who lived as a trans woman called Naomi, was pronounced dead at the scene after being found with knife injuries in Hounslow
17 March, Russell Jones, 23: Ambushed outside shops near Ponders End station, in Enfield and stabbed and shot to death
18 March, Tyrone Silcott, 42: The father-of-two died from knife wounds after a St Patrick’s Day party. It is alleged the car mechanic got into a row over two girls at a party in Homerton and was attacked
19 March, Balbir Johal, 48: Died after being stabbed in Southall
Hersi Hersi (left), who lived as a trans woman called Naomi, was pronounced dead at the scene after being found with knife injuries at Heathrow Palace in Hounslow. Russell Jones, 23, became the eighth person in a week to be killed in London when he was ambushed outside shops near Ponders End station, Enfield Read
19 March, Jermaine Johnson, 41: Found with stab injuries and pronounced dead at the scene in Walthamstow
20 March, Beniamin Pieknyi, 20: Believed to have jumped in to the fight in a bid to save his friend during the altercation at the Stratford Centre in east London. The 20-year-old, who only arrived in Britain two months ago from Romania, died in his best friend’s arms after being chased and stabbed by a gang in the busy shopping centre
25 March, Abraham Badru, 26: Gunned down in Hackney. The university graduate, who was murdered in Dalston, east London, was awarded the National Police Bravery Award in July 2009
25 March, awaiting formal ID, 59: Person found dead in Barking & Dagenham
26 March, David Potter, 50: Found stabbed to death in a property on Tooting High Street
29 March, Reece Tshoma, 23: Reece, from Barking in east London, was stabbed in the neck in Greenwich before being rushed to hospital by his friend where he died
30 March, Leyla Mtumwa, 36: Leyla was found dead with stab wounds to the neck and chest at an address in Haringey
APRIL – At least 11 deaths
1 April, Devoy Stapleton: Stabbed at as he made his way home from a night out in Wandsworth. Police found him in a pool of his own blood after being called to the middle-class suburb of Earlsfield, south west London
2 April, Tanesha Melbourne, 17: Tanesha was gunned down near her home in Tottenham, north London in front of horrified friends and family. It is thought she was caught in the crossfire of a ruthless gang war
2 April, Amaan Shakoor, 16: The teenager was shot in the face in Walthamstow, north London, and police have now confirmed he died from his injuries in hospital
4 April, Henry Vincent, 37: Burglary who died from stab wound after raiding pensioner’s house
4 April, Babatunde Akintayo Awofeso dies after row on Upper Clapton Road, east London.
4 April, Israel Ogunsola, 18, dies in Hackney after being stabbed. The victim approached police who performed first aid but he died at the scene after 25 minutes.
12 April, John Maclean, 35, stabbed at a flat in the Isle of Dogs. A 25-year-old has been charged with his murder.
15 April, Raul Nicolaie, 26: Found at with stab injuries in Colindale, north London. A 34- year-old woman was arrested at the scene on suspicion of murder
15 April, an unnamed woman in her 30s was stabbed to death in Sudbourne Road, Brixton, south London. A man in his 20s has been arrested on suspicion of murder.
16 April – Sami Sidhom, 18, is stabbed to death in the street in Forest Gate.
21 April – Man, 20, named locally as Kwesi, was stabbed to death about a hundred yards from Jeremy Corbyn’s home in North London
23 April – Aaron Springett, 32, died after a street fight outside Paddy Power bookies in Morden
May 1 – A man in his thirties is shot dead outside Queensbury Tube station.
May 5 – Rhyhiem Ainsworth Barton was murdered on Warham Street, Southwark
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