Mother of Elianne Andam, 15, saved to send daughter to private school

Mother of schoolgirl Elianne Andam, 15, is an NHS children’s nurse who saved to send her daughter to top private school ‘to fulfill her dream of becoming a lawyer’

The mother of a 15-year-old girl stabbed to death in Croydon is an NHS children’s nurse who had saved to send her daughter to a top private school to fulfill her dream of becoming a lawyer. 

Elianne Andam, a pupil at the Old Palace of John Whitgift school, was attacked at 8.30am yesterday while she made her way to school. She had got off the number 60 bus to step in to protect a friend.   

Her aunt, Marian, said the schoolgirl’s mother had been paying for her daughter to go to the leading independent school so she could go on to have a ‘bright future’. 

Speaking at her sister’s home in Croydon, Marian told MailOnline: ‘You just can’t comprehend the heartbreak of the last 24 hours, how Elianne went to school and never came home. 

‘She wanted to be a lawyer, she went to private school paid for by my sister and had a great future ahead of her. She was a lovely girl, she loved doing her hair, had beautiful natural hair, and she really loved gymnastics.

‘We’re a big family and we are all here for our sister, to support her. We’re a big family this has left us absolutely devastated. My sister is not feeling good, this only happened yesterday. It hasn’t sunk in yet, it’s a tragedy.’

Elianne Andam, a pupil at the Old Palace of John Whitgift school, was attacked at 8.30am yesterday while she made her way to school 

Aspiring lawyer Elianne (left) was described as a ‘beautiful’ girl with a ‘great future’ ahead of her by her aunt Marian  (right)

Police officers arrive to lay flowers at the spot where Elianne died in Croydon, South London 

A large number of floral tributes have been left at the scene by police officers (pictured) and members of the public  

Police officers laying flowers at the scene and taking a moment to reflect 

A tragic statement issued by the family described their ‘beautiful’ child Elianne as the ‘light of our lives’.

‘She was bright and funny, with many friends who all adored her,’ it said. ‘She was only 15, and had her whole life ahead of her, with hopes and dreams for the future.

‘All those dreams have now been shattered. Our lives have fallen apart, along with that of our wider family.’

A row spilt out of the number 60 bus outside the Whitgift Shopping Centre close to East Croydon station on Wednesday morning.

A teenage boy dressed in black stabbed the schoolgirl in the neck and chest with a ‘sword-like’ zombie knife when she stood in his way after her friend rejected his flowers and love letter before he was arrested on a tram an hour later. 

A bus driver and passers-by battled to save her. But Elianne died on the pavement just minutes after the attack – less than a mile from her £20,000-a-year elite independent school.

James Watkins, of Croydon crime prevention group Mainzworld, said the teenager’s family rushed to the scene but she had already died. ‘They were unable to say goodbye,’ he said. 

A mother who had just dropped her children at school witnessed the scene moments after the attack.

The woman, from Streatham in south London, said she saw police officers take aside a bus driver who ‘looked like he was almost holding’ the 15-year-old victim. 

She said: ‘I was driving past when I noticed that somebody was lying down on the floor.

‘I drove round, parked up and tried to get as close as I could. Two young girls were saying it was a young lady and she had been stabbed in the neck.

‘I haven’t really slept properly, because I still have that image of her lying there.’

Police forensics put a rose in an evidence tube. The flowers were said to have been carried by the killer, along with a zombie knife the size of a small sword

Cards left for Elianne at the scene of the stabbing yesterday – less than a mile from the school gates

The victim was a pupil at Old Palace of John Whitgift School in Croydon

More than 40 bunches of flowers have been laid close to where the 15-year-old was stabbed to death.

One card said: ‘Rest in peace angel condolences to your family at this very sad time.’

Another said: ‘Rest in peace little princess so sad your life is taken away at your prime. You have touched my soul.’

Filomena Merola laid flowers by the police tape on Thursday morning.

The 57-year-old, who grew up in Croydon, said: ‘That young girl could not even go to school without being cut down.

‘We all have young teenagers in our lives, in our families. It has just struck a chord.’

A youth worker said he understood the boy tried to give a bouquet of flowers to his former girlfriend on the bus but tensions flared when they stepped off the red double-decker, which was packed with commuters and other schoolchildren.

The friend is said to have rejected the flowers and had also tried to return a bag of possessions following the break-up. The victim stepped in to protect her and was stabbed in the neck by the teen ‘wearing all black’.

Chevanice Thomas’s friend witnessed the girl being attacked. She said: ‘He gave her the flowers and she threw them away. Her friends all dispersed when she went down. After that, the boy apparently stabbed her, blood gushing out and the police put pressure on it. She died on the spot.’

The suspect, whose weapon was described as being ‘as big as a sword’, then reportedly fled the scene, chased by brave passengers who had also been on the bus. An hour after the attack, officers arrested the 17-year-old boy five miles away on a tram in New Addington at 9.45am. Metropolitan Police Chief Superintendent Andy Brittain said police are not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident. 

Former Met Chief Supt Simon Ovens said: ‘Police have got to get to grips with young people carrying knives.

‘There has been a huge drop in stop-and-search in the last ten years. Police are scared of stopping young people in the street because of the risk of complaints.

‘Youngsters are therefore prepared to carry knives because they know the chance of being found with a weapon is so low.

‘As well as carrying knives they are prepared to use them and never think about the consequences for their victim or themselves.’

Flowers at the murder scene in Croydon today as a 17-year-old boy remains in custody

Mourners lay flowers and tributes to the schoolgirl in a crime described by police as ‘every parent’s nightmare’

Forensic scientists were seen collecting blood stained red roses, which the killer was allegedly trying to give to her friend

Yesterday, forensics officers were seen removing a handwritten love note from the scene

Security worker Victor Asare described the knife as ‘black, thin and about a foot long’. He said: ‘A lot of people came, everyone came off the bus. [The suspect] ran away. Everybody was crying and screaming. The girl was on the floor. 

‘We tried to catch him and a lot of people tried to save the girl. I was so shocked, I was shaken. It’s somebody’s daughter.

‘The boy wore a black blazer, the girl wore green. It looked like the girl didn’t want the boy to come closer.

‘I finished work but couldn’t sleep, so came back, I wanted to see if the girl was OK.’

Anthony King, chairman of the My Ends project said: ‘They were heading to school on the bus this morning. All of them were scheduled to be at school by quarter to nine.

‘Their school is ten minutes away from here and sadly the young lady didn’t make it.’

The bus driver and passengers desperately tried to save the young girl, as another schoolgirl reportedly screamed ‘that’s my best friend’, as she tried to push through to see Elianne.

Her family, who had been called to the scene, rushed down to the bus stop but she died at 9.21am – before they could say goodbye. 

Forensic scientists at the scene yesterday were seen collecting blood stained red roses and a love note which read: ‘I love you so so much and I [have] never met someone with a better smile and better eyes than what you have. Your [sic] special girl… princess.’

The young girl died at the scene after being stabbed on her way to school

Dozens of floral tributes and cards have been laid at the scene near the girl’s school

Witnesses said the boy had tried to give Elianne’s friend flowers but she replied that she ‘didn’t want to go out with him any more’ 

One woman who laid flowers said: ‘We all have young teenagers in our lives, in our families. It has just struck a chord.’ 

The father of a schoolfriend said: ‘My daughter is friends with the girls. She’s devastated about what happened. It’s horrible.’

A mother of two, who wanted to be named only as Bridget, said: ‘I saw them resuscitating her. The driver was holding her, and a lady. The emergency services were already here.’ 

She said two other schoolgirls, believed to be the victim’s friends, were trying to get through the police cordon but were held back.

Michael Fyffe, who witnessed the attack, told Sky News: ‘There were loads of people who had just come off the bus and then I think two of the girl’s friends came out and they were trying to rush over towards the body. 

‘So myself and a few of the other people tried to hold her back and just say, ‘Look, let them try and help your friend’, and she was just screaming, ‘Is my friend dead? She’s my best friend’.’

Staff at the Leonardo Hotel on Wellesley Road, were among those at the scene. Beldine Kutima, who works there, told The Telegraph: ‘One of our duty managers went to get the bus, but she came back in screaming and grabbing towels from the back room. 

‘She ran out there with bin bags and towels. She was crying and in shock.’  

One card wrote ‘why?’ before wishing condolences to the teenager’s family 

Another read: ‘Little princess. So sad your life was taken away at your prime. You have touched my soul’

Forensic officers walk past the scene, which features several privacy screens 

A forensic investigator puts flowers into a container at the scene near the Whitgift shopping centre in Croydon

A man delivers two bunches of flowers to the scene where the girl was killed yesterday

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley at the scene in Croydon yesterday afternoon

Mr Watkins said: ‘It’s disgusting, when we look at these children being killed that are from the borough it hurts you in the heart. These could be our kids, it’s devastating.’

Tributes have poured in for the ‘jovial’ and ‘much loved’ teen who had a ‘bright future ahead of her’ – expected to pass all her GCSEs later this school year. 

Mr King added: ‘The [victim’s] family and extended family are devastated. I can’t articulate the sound of the tears and genuine heartbreak that took place this morning. 

‘[The girl] was going to pass her GCSEs, she had a bright future ahead of her. An absolutely incredible young lady, very articulate. One of the young people said she was jovial and very funny.’

Speaking to journalists at the scene, Metropolitan Police Chief Superintendent Brittain said officers were not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident. 

‘This is every parent’s worst nightmare, and I know the officers who responded this morning, along with our emergency service colleagues, are devastated at the victim’s death,’ he said. 

Speaking to journalists yesterday afternoon, Chief Superintendent Brittain said officers arrived within two minutes of being called and gave the suspect’s age as 17

Privacy screens have been set up around the scene of the stabbing in Croydon, south London  

‘This is an emotion I share and I know people across Croydon will be feeling the same.

‘The victim’s family has been informed and our thoughts are with them at what must be an incredibly difficult time.

‘We carried out urgent inquiries to find the suspect and within 75 minutes of the incident happening a 17-year-old boy was arrested in New Addington. He remains in custody and will be questioned by detectives.

‘We remain in the early stages of our investigation, however based on what we know so far we believe that we are not looking for anyone else in connection with this offence.

‘From our initial inquiries, we believe the suspect may have known the victim. However, we’re not in a position to release the victim’s identity at this time.’

A spokesman for the Old Palace of John Whitgift School said: ‘We are deeply shocked by the senseless and tragic death of our much-loved and valued friend and pupil.

‘It will take some time for the Old Palace community to come to terms with this terrible news, and we will offer support to our pupils as we try to do so.

‘Above all, we send our love and deepest sympathies to the girl’s family at this unimaginably distressing time.

Yesterday afternoon a white tent could be seen within a police cordon next to the double-decker bus.  

A forensic investigator onboard the bus where the argument is believed to have started 

Privacy screens and a tent outside the Whitgift centre in Croydon while a bus sits beside the pavement nearby

Locals say they saw a group of schoolchildren getting off the No 60 bus outside the Whitgift Centre

They said a row between the girl and boy – who were both in school uniforms – ‘spilled out’ onto a busy street with

Croydon MP Sarah Jones attended the police press conference alongside Croydon mayor Jason Perry. 

Ms Jones said: ‘I’m heartbroken that a child in my town has been killed on her way to school and I cannot imagine the grief that her family will be going through at this time.

‘I want to thank the police and the ambulance services for trying so hard to save her life. They run into danger and I know they will be suffering today, too.

‘I want to repeat the request from the police that if anybody has any information please do get in touch.

‘We all hold our children close and our community will take time to grieve but for today we are just thinking of this young girl and her family. I’m so sorry.’

Mr Perry added: ‘We all personally feel devastated by the events that have happened here in Croydon this morning and the tragic loss of such a young life.

‘The community are feeling that hurt right now and we will do everything we can to support the community through such a very difficult time.’ 

Met Police commissioner Sir Mark Rowley said tonight: ‘The senseless murder of a 15-year-old girl on her way to school is impossible to comprehend.

‘It was moving and humbling to meet many members of the exceptional Croydon community who have come together in support of a family now dealing with the most unimaginable grief.

‘The commitment of so many from the local community is inspiring. A powerful partnership between charitable groups, faith and community leaders, the local authority, the wider public and our officers has delivered so much work across the borough. They have collectively saved many lives from knife crime. 

‘Many are shocked and hurting. They care deeply and it’s this passion which has made Croydon a safer place and will continue to in the future.

‘I spoke to officers who, with members of the public, were among the first on scene with colleagues trying to save this young girl’s life and have since supported her family and friends. Through diligent work by them all an early arrest was made and our major crime team now continue to investigate the events leading up to this awful attack.’

London Mayor Sadiq Khan told Greatest Hits Radio London: ‘My thoughts and prayers are with the bereaved family of the 15-year-old child who has been stabbed in Croydon. 

‘I’ve been in touch with the commissioner [Sir Mark Rowley] and we are in touch with the police. 

‘It’s heartbreaking. An arrest has been made of another teenager in relation to this matter.

‘There were other people present and I’d encourage them to contact the police. If they are worried about the anonymity they can ring Crimestoppers.

‘It’s really important people come forward and support the police to make sure justice occurs for this poor girl’s family.’

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