Arsema Dawit stabbed to death 'was being stalked'


Schoolgirl stabbed to death ‘was being stalked’

June 4, 2008


Arsema Dawit, 15, found dead in lift near Waterloo Station


A teenage girl murdered in a tower block in South London was being pestered and stalked by a man who became infatuated with her, it emerged today.

Arsema Dawit was stabbed to death as she returned home from school in south London yesterday. The 15-year-old’s body – still clothed in her school uniform – was found slumped in a lift in Matheson Lang Gardens, near Waterloo station, at around 4.30pm.

Wayne Fort, whose partner and nine-year-old daughter found the fatally injured teenager, said the victim had been troubled in the past by a man in his 20s or 30s. “I encountered an incident about two months ago,” he said.

Mr Fort said that he saw an argument between the man and a female member of Arsema’s family in the stairway of the flats. He said the girl was warning the man not to harm her sister again.

“There was a chap who seemed to be infatuated with her,” he said. “He seemed to have met her at the church. I could see from the efforts of the elders of the family they were trying to get rid of the man.”

Sky News quoted police sources as saying that the family had already made an allegation of assault.

Mr Fort said that his daughter was extremely upset by the discovery she made. “She is in a very bad state – she didn’t sleep much last night.”

After finding the body, Mr Fort said, his daughter came banging on the door of his flat, crying “Daddy, Daddy, quick, come! The girl’s in the lift, she’s on the floor, there’s lots of blood.”

He added that the murdered teenager had celebrated her 15th birthday with her family on Saturday. Scotland Yard said that she was born on May 30, 1993, meaning that her birthday was actually on Friday.

Arsema suffered at least ten stab wounds to her front, neck and back in an attack so frenzied that the handle of the knife broke off and the blade was left in her body. She was discovered still in her school uniform.

A local man in his thirties was arrested on suspicion of murder and is being questioned by police.

The girl is the sixteenth teenager — but the first female — to have been killed violently in London since January and the thirty-first in Britain. She is believed to be of Eritrean origin.
Police retained a very visible presence this morning at the 10-storey block – Matheson Lang Gardens, 150 yards from Waterloo station – with cordons in place and officers guarding the entrance to the building.

Sunny Salique, a 20-year-old student who lives in the tower block with his aunt, said residents were horrified by the murder. “I am shocked. My auntie hasn’t come out of the flat since yesterday because she’s so upset. It’s a quiet block – there’s never any trouble.”

Other residents said that they had been given security fobs as recently as Friday as part of measures to tighten up security at the flats.

One resident, Sharon Moore, described the victim as a polite girl who lived with her mother, a 12-year-old sister and an older brother on the fourth floor. She said: “Everyone knows them as a quiet family. I don’t know them by name, but the girls would nod at me and say hello. They were well behaved and polite and certainly not the type of people you think this happens to.

“I always thought of the building as safe but recently there was a complaint by one of the neighbours that sometimes people who shouldn’t be in the building were coming in — people who had been drinking or who were homeless.”

One neighbour told The Times that the dead girl had lived at the block of flats for two years and attended Harris Academy in Bermondsey, southeast London. The man said that the victim’s sister found out about the murder from a report on television.

The London Ambulance Service was called at 3.45pm and sent a fastresponse car, an ambulance and an air ambulance, the first of which arrived in less than four minutes. Last night a man of African appearance was arrested on Hungerford Bridge in front of dozens of commuters on their way home.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “A man in his thirties was arrested in the Lambeth area following the incident. We are keeping an open mind about motive at this early stage.

A local resident, who gave her name as Christina, said she was too scared to let her 13-year-old son out alone.

“I have to walk him down the stairs of my block of flats because of all the teenagers hanging around there. I think they go to Matheson Lang block and cause trouble,” she said.

On being elected last month, Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, said dealing with knife crime was a priority. Curbs on police stop-and-search powers have been eased and Mr Johnson has promised more knife arches and hand-held weapon scanners at Tube stations.