‘I live in fear’: Mother of murdered Islington teenager issues moving plea to end ‘knife crime pandemic’

Jessica Plummer, wearing a badge showing her son, Shaquan. Photograph: Julia Gregory

The mother of an Islington teenager who was fatally stabbed has called on the community to work together to prevent another family suffering.

Jessica Plummer’s 17-year-old son Shaquan Sammy-Plummer was murdered in 2015, and she recounted her memories of the day he died following a party.

Her life was shattered when the police knocked on her door and rushed her to the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel where Shaquan was being treated.

Fighting back tears, she said: “That was the longest ride ever.”

She recounted hearing that her son had been stabbed.

“I did not believe them.”

She added: “He was such a loving boy.”

The A-level student was doing part-time jobs at Waitrose and Tottenham Hotspur and was planning to go to university.

Plummer set up a foundation in her son’s name to educate young people about the impact of knife crime.

She said: “It is the hardest pain ever to lose your child. I want to prevent other families from going through this pain.”

Fourteen young Londoners were stabbed to death in London in 2015.

In 2016, 20-year-old Jemal Williams was given a life sentence for Shaquan’s murder.

Plummer said her son’s death has had a huge impact on her family, but it has made her determined to prevent others from experiencing the pain they suffer.

“I still live in fear for my children,” she said.

“If we keep hating each other, we need to stop. We all need to come together as one to try to eradicate knife crime.

“I want to be able to work with the police and Islington Council as knife crime is a pandemic.”

She added: “We have to try and change the mindset of young people and to try and get young people to help us. They have to find a way to trust us.”

Plummer said: “I just talk to them like a mother. Any child is my child, my child is your child.”

It is essential to discuss knife crime with young people, she said.

She was speaking at an Islington Council event as part of its Standing Together fortnight to highlight young people’s safety.

It was held just half a mile away from Highbury Fields, where 15-year-old Deshaun James-Tuitt was stabbed last year.

Six teenagers are due to stand trial after they were charged with his murder.

In June this year, 15-year-old Leonardo Reid and Shekaj Klevi, 23, died after they were stabbed in Archway.

Three men have been charged with their murders.

Islington’s executive member for children, young people and families, Cllr Michelline Ngongo, said the Standing Together fortnight aims to bring communities together.

Events include first aid training, alcohol awareness, discussions about why young people might not want to go to school, and tips to understand and manage anxiety.

Friday 17 November is youth night and young people will be hosting podcasts to share their views.

They are at the Lift Youth Hub in White Lion Street, from 6pm to 8pm, Soapbox in Old Street from 5pm to 8pm, and at the Rose Bowl in Ramsey Walk from 6.30pm to 8.30pm.

Cllr Ngongo said tackling knife violence is “about a community response. There’s no one single organisation that can resolve knife crime.”

She added: “It takes a whole village to raise a child.”

Cllr Ngongo urged young people to dispose of weapons in the knife bins in Islington “to make everybody secure”.

“A loss of a young person is a loss for everyone,” she said.

Cllr John Woolf, executive member for community safety, said: “Violence is a contagious disease.

“Any instance of knife crime is one too many. We have heard the horrors of the impact on Jessica and her family.”

He said it is crucial to listen to young Islington residents to ensure their safety.

“It’s about empowering young people to lead the change that they want to see.”