NEWS: Kingstanding boxer wins gold medal at Gee Bee Championships

By Erdington Local news team

Kingstanding boxer Niall Farrell has won gold for Great Britain at the prestigious Gee Bee Championships.

The championships, held in Finland, were the first of three tournaments in what is set to be an unforgettable year for Farrell – culminating in the 24-year-old fighting in front of his home crowd in the Commonwealth Games.

The featherweight was the first Team GB fighter in the ring on Sunday and his victory set the tone for the rest of the day, with his team returning to the UK with eight medals.

Niall told Erdington Local: “Finals day is always amazing, I was kind of nervous because I wanted to give the team a good start, we are really close knit team and we all cheer each other on after our own fights.

“I’ve got the European Championships and then the Commonwealth Games in July. I should be in the team; it will be amazing. I have not fought in England for years now so to have the Commonwealth Games in my own city will be something I will remember forever.

“I have got a lot of support in Kingstanding, 50 people once travelled with me to Croatia so imagine what it will be like in the NEC for my fights.”

Niall has been fighting for the prestigious Team GB Boxing for seven years and regularly mixes with world champions and Olympic gold medallists as he is pushed to the limit by his coaches at the Sheffield headquarters.

However, Kingstanding’s Second City Boxing Club is where his heart will always be.

He said: “My dad set up Second City for me and my brothers really and all my family are involved. What the club has achieved in this area is something we are all really proud of.

“Youngsters have come into the gym to keep off the streets and have ended up fighting for championships and wearing England shirts.

“I am treated no different to anyone else when I go in the gym, in fact I might get shouted at more than anyone else by my dad. But I know because I am a Team GB boxer I can inspire any kid who walks into that gym.”

Niall is wary of looking too far ahead as he needs to think one fight, and one tournament, at a time, but he hopes to be selling out arenas in the professional ranks one day.

He said: “The Commonwealth Games will be a great platform to build on, I want to turn professional one day, and I will want to be fighting for world titles in Birmingham, but I cannot think too far ahead. I just know there are exciting times ahead.”

He added: “I have had a lot of support from Kingstanding, from everyone at the club, to my sponsors Absolute Scaffolding, Four Roads Construction, Spanclad Construction, and Luke Roper (Luke 1977), and I know I when I go into a school or a gym, if I can change just one child’s mindset then I’ve won already.

“However, I know the whole city will be behind me during the Commonwealth Games, it will be the kind of thing when everything is done, my career is done, that I and the rest of the Team GB boxers will look back on and smile.”

For more on Niall Farrell visit www.teamengland.org/news/generation-22-niall-farrell

For more on Second City Boxing visit https://www.facebook.com/Second-City-Boxing-Club

NEWS: Shock verdict as all defendants found not guilty of murder in Dea John Reid trial

Words by Ed King

After three days of deliberation, the jury for the Dea John Reid murder trial delivered their verdict at Birmingham Crown Court today – finding all the defendants not guilty of murder and assisting an offender.

One of the minors accused of murder, the teenager that delivered the fatal blow, was found guilty of manslaughter, with sentencing set for 5 May.

With all five defendants accused of murder as a joint enterprise, once one verdict of not guilty was returned it paved the way for the rest to likewise be acquitted of murder.

Hollie Davis (36, Castle Bromwich) who had been on bail after being charged with assisting an offender, was also found not guilty.

The others found not guilty of any crime, including George Khan (39, Kingstanding) and Michael Shields (36, Castle Bromwich) – who had been remanded on custody since their arrest – would be back home as soon as the court could process the relevant paperwork for their release.

In a case that has gone on for almost a year, tears of relief were shed both inside and outside the courtroom as friends and family members of those accused had been waiting at Birmingham Crown Court since Monday to hear the jury’s verdict.

Dea John Reid was fatally stabbed on Collage Road in Kingstanding on 31 May 2021, following incidents earlier in the day where he and a group he was with had attempted to rob the minors eventually accused of his murder.

Throughout the trial, extensive CCTV footage had showed Dea John Reid and his group coming into Kingstanding from Perry Barr – including the moments when both groups had met and the attempted robbery had taken place.

If found guilty of murder, the adults accused could have spent the rest of their lives in prison – with a ‘whole life order’ as a possible starting point for sentencing. As minors, the teenagers accused could have faced custodial sentences of a minimum of 12 years before being eligible for parole.

Before the jury returned to deliver their verdict, the presiding judge – Mr Justice Johnson – asked members of the public present to “control themselves” as the court would not tolerate any “outbursts” once the verdict had been read.

Dressed in white shirts and black ties, George Khan and Michael Shields hung their heads and looked down at the floor upon hearing the verdict of not guilty – with both wiping tears of relief from their faces.

However, for Dea John Reid’s mother and brother, who were present in the courtroom as the jury delivered their verdict, the judgement was a bitter blow for a family that has suffered such a tragic loss – as no murder charge was upheld.

Dea John Reid’s family, accompanied by Bishop Desmond Jaddoo, left Birmingham Crown Court calmly and quickly, and were initially unavailable for comment.

In a later statement, as the official family spokesperson, Bishop Jaddoo stated:

“Dea John was a well loved, brother and uncle. His family are mortified at the verdict and are of the opinion that is no justice for Dea John.

“The evidence clearly shows intent with a young man with a balaclava over his face and wearing a hood chasing Dea John with a knife and inflicting a stab wound to his (Dea John) chest and is not reflected in the jury’s decision.

“Many will say, where is the justice for Dea John.”

Bishop Jaddoo went on the say, on behalf of Dea John’s family, that whilst they were “mortified” with the verdict they wanted to thank West Midlands Police for the “support and the thorough investigation” they had conducted.

Kate Seal, Senior Crown Prosecutor for CPS West Midlands, stated: “I cannot begin to imagine the crippling sense of loss felt by Dea-John’s family and friends.

“The verdict of manslaughter will not undo the devastation felt by so many at the senseless loss of a young life.

“Such unnecessary violence has no place in our society and the death of Dea-John Reid should have never happened.

“The irrational use of violence that is now prevalent on our streets and in our communities must cease if we are to prevent further tragedies among our youth. While no verdict can return Dea-John to his family, my thoughts remain with them.”

Sentencing for the minor now found guilty of manslaughter will take place at Birmingham Crown Court on 5 May.

NEWS: Jury prepares to consider their verdict for Dea John Reid murder trail

Words by Ed King

The jury for the Dea John Reid murder case are preparing to consider their verdict, as summing up for the defence councils on the high profile murder case finished this week.

Being heard at Birmingham Crown Court, on Monday, 28 March the twelve strong jury will decide, as a group, whether George Khan (39, Kingstanding), Michael Shields (36, Castle Bromwich), and the three minors accused of murder are guilty or innocent. All five have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

On 31 May 2021, the 14 year old Dea John Reid was fatally stabbed on College Road in KIngstanding – dying at the scene, following a single blow to the chest.

After a swift but thorough police investigation, where officers trawled through hundreds of hours of CCTV footage an interviewed many witnesses, two men and three minors were arrested and charged with the murder of the schoolboy.

Michael Shields was the first to hand himself into the police, the day after the killing, with police eventually charging the Castle Bromwich man with murder, alongside Khan and the three minors.

The Crown Prosecution Service claim all five had ‘joint participation’ in the deadly attack, despite only one of the minors delivering the fatal blow.

Opening the case for the prosecution on Wednesday, 23 February 2022, Richard Wormald QC described the deadly chase and assault as a “hunt” and “revenge attack”.

The court then heard how the three minors, along with another friend, had been “mugged” by Dea John and other boys in his company earlier that day, leading to a retaliation attack that left the 14 year old fatally stabbed.

During their summing up statements, councils for the defence were keen to remind the jury of the fact the three minors had felt threatened from earlier incidents, including an initial altercation where members of Dea John’s group had tried to rob an Armani ‘man pouch’ from one of the teenagers accused.

Defending the child who had admited stabbed Dea John Reid, although claiming it was in self defence, Mr Clarke QC highlighted a piece of CCTV footage where he asserted you could see “a look of terror on his face” – arguing the final assault was a result of “continued threat… an action that has to be seen in the context of what happened before.”

But the twist of the case came from the alleged involvement of Michael Shields, who despite being charged with murder along with the other accused is claiming to be an unwilling bystander in an event he had no idea would end in serious assault, let alone murder.

The court had previously heard how the two adults accused of murder, George Khan and Michael Shields, had been drinking in The Digby pub on Chester Road before becoming embroiled in the search for Dea John and his friends.

Michael Shields’s defence council claimed he was only in George Khan’s VW Golf, the vehicle used by all five accused of murder to find Dea John and his friends, because he had no money to get home on his own.

Following the subsequent chase and attack, which left the 14 year old Dea John Reid bleeding to death outside the Costcutter on College Road, Michael Shields further claimed he was only aware there had been a stabbing after overhearing a phone call in the car whilst leaving the murder scene – at which point he asked the driver, George Khan, to pull over so he could walk home.

The prosecution does not dispute the fact Michael Shields left the car.

Furthermore, Michael Shields claimed he was threatened by Hollie Davis, who is the ex-partner of George Khan, not to go to the police – extending her threats to Shields’s ex-partner.

Hollie Davis admits she was “horrible to him (Shields)” during a series of phone calls made after the attack.

After hearing a list of positive character references, from men and women of different cultures and backgrounds, the defence council for Michael Shields’s reminded the jury how his client handed himself into the police the day following the attack, as he thought it was “the right thing to do’.

The defence for Shields further stated: “He’s gone from being a perfectly decent, hardworking individual to being on trial for murder, just like that.”

Amongst his final words, Michael Shields’s barrister asked the jury to consider if they believed his client was capable of the “calculated” murder of a child – adding: “This man, Michael Shields, is not a killer.”

All accused will be back in Birmingham Crown Court on Monday, 28 March for the final part of the judge’s summing up – before retiring to deliver their final verdict.

All five accused of murder deny the charges. Hollie Davis further denies the charge of assisting an offender.

NEWS: Courtroom in tears as Dea-John Reid’s final moments caught on CCTV are played to jury

On Friday, 25 February, friends and relatives of Dea John Reid left the courtroom in tears after the schoolboy’s final moments were repeatedly played for jurors.

The fourth day of the murder trial at Birmingham Crown Court, expected to last up to eight weeks, again centred on CCTV and doorbell camera footage from Kingstanding.

Police officers recovered footage from more than 20 cameras around Twickenham Road, College Road, Hometon Road, and Wardour Grove.

Jurors were shown defendants George Khan (39) and Michael Shields (36) along with their three child co-defendants driving around several roads in a blue VW Golf looking for Dea-John Reid and his friends.

The court previously heard how Dea-John had an altercation earlier in the day in Kingstanding, where money had been demanded, before one of the minors accused phoned Khan – who was drinking in The Digby pub on the Chester Road with Shields.

The two men allegedly then jumped into Khan’s VW Golf and collected the boys, some of whom picked up weapons – including a kitchen knife and a wheel brace, before driving around Kingstanding and Perry Common searching for Dea-John and his friends.

Detectives painstakingly pieced together CCTV from shops and footage from doorbell cameras to show the chase in chronological order.

Detective Constable Dave Pugh, giving evidence for a third day, played footage from a College Road camera which had both groups in shot.

He said: “This is the moment the two groups saw each other. Dea-John became separated from his group and can be seen running alone.”

The two men and three boys can then be seen running across a busy College Road chasing after Dea-John, with some of the group carrying weapons.

DC Pugh replayed the audio of a doorbell camera on College Road at half speed, two thirds speed and normal speed. An older man can be heard shouting “f**k him up” to the boys ahead of him.

One of boys caught up with Dea-John on the corner of Wardour Grove and College Road. The police have recovered camera footage from both streets giving a clear view of the two or three second altercation which left Dea-John dead.

The boy approaches Dea-John and they clash, the boy can be seen making a hand movement with a knife towards Dea-John’s body. Dea-John can then be seen recoiling and holding his side while his attacker runs off.

The unnerving footage was replayed at different speeds several times, prompting two members of the victim’s family to leave the court in tears.

The judge then paused evidence for lunch, whilst other members of Dea-John’s family were visibly upset outside the court.

Due to the interest in the case, the defendants, the judge, several lawyers, and some members of the victim’s and defendants families are in one court – while lawyers and extended family of the victim watch proceedings from another room.

Dea-John Reid’s murder on 31 May 2021 prompted a massive response on social media, with a vigil held on the spot where he died attracting more than 1,000 people from across the country.

Shields, of Alvis Walk, Castle Bromwich, and Khan, of Newstead Road, Birmingham, and the three children, who cannot be named because of their age, all deny murder.

Hollie Davies, 36, of Waldon Walk, Birmingham, is accused of assisting an offender. She denies the charge.

The trial continues.

NEWS: Dea-John Reid trial begins as George Khan, Michael Shields, and three minors stand accused of murder

Words & pics by Ed King

The trial over the killing of schoolboy Dea-John Reid began at Birmingham Crown Court today, as George Khan (39), Michael Shields (36), and three minors stood accused of murder.

Hollie Davies (36), former partner of George Khan, also stood accused of assisting an offender.

Sitting in the main courtroom listening to the prosecution’s opening were Dea-John’s mother and brother, accompanied by Desmond Jaddoo who has counselled the family ever since the murder.

A ‘spill over’ court had also been made available to cater for the large number of family members and friends of Dea-John Reid.

Also present in the main courtroom were friends of Hollie Davies.

Opening the case for the prosecution, Richard Wormald QC described the “revenge attack” that led to the fatal stabbing of Dea-John Reid on Monday, 31 May 2021 – where the 14 year old was killed on Collage Road, Kingstanding, following a single stab wound to the heart, as according to the post-mortem examination.

The jury were told how two groups of young males, one including Dea-John Reid and the other including the minors accused of murder, had interacted earlier in the day – beginning with a dispute after they first crossed paths near the Kingstanding Circle, and continuing at a convenience store in the area.

It was alleged the group including Dea-John began “mugging” the minors accused, as one “demanded” an Armani pouch from one of the defendants whilst others were asked to “empty their pockets”.

Running away from the attempted robbery, and being chased by the group including Dea-John, it was further told how the minors accused then spilt up – with one seeking refuge in a local newsagent, before being let out via a back entrance by the shop owner as Dea-John Reid and the others in his group waited outside the front.

The prosecution then described how the minors accused reconvened at a family member’s house, where one of them contacted George Khan who was at that time in The Digby Pub, on Chester Road, with Michael Shields.

It was told how George Khan and Michael Shields then collected the three minors accused, driving them in Khan’s blue VW Golf to the area where the earlier altercation had taken place – looking for Dea-John and his group.

It was presented by the prosecution that all five accused of murder knew weapons were being carried and had the intention to inflict serious violence and cause grievous bodily harm.

The prosecution then described how Dea-John and his group were eventually spotted by George Khan, Michael Shields, and the three minors accused – after being driven around “on the hunt” in George Khan’s blue VW Golf.

According to the prosecution, there was then a chase with all five of those accused with murder complicit in “a group attack, during which each played their party, running after Dea-John Reid, thus enabling” the minor who delivered the fatal blow “to chase down and fatally stab Dea-John Reid to the left side of the chest.”

Richard Wormald QC then added: “The male defendants acted like a pack, chasing down their pray. Just like a pack in chase, all were close and converging.

“Having carried out the attack, the group then made off in haste – not one of them offered any support or comfort to Dea-John Reid, they simply left him to die.”

Once the prosecution had finished opening, which took several hours, the sequence of events was supported by a series of CCTV images and footage – with DC David Pugh, from the homicide team based in Aston, corroborating the locations and the identification of the defendants as mapped out by the images and video captured.

None of the defendants accused of murder deny or contest the references made to them featuring in the CCTV footage.

The prosecution also told the jury, the minor who delivered the fatal blow “accepts that he killed Dea-John Reid by stabbing him, but he will claim that he acted in self-defence.”

The prosecution further explained how the following day in the hearing would likely be taken up going through the extensive CCTV footage, and how the police “have been able to zoom in on the fatal stabbing, which the jury will see in due course.”

The individual barristers acting on behalf of the accused were also given a brief chance to introduce their defence, which for those accused of murder hangs largely on either not knowing their co-defendants were carrying weapons, or for the minor who stabbed and killed Dea-John Reid that they were acting in self-defence.

The case continues and is expected to last between six to eight weeks.

NEWS: Kingstanding’s CLOC Musical Theatre Company restart rehearsals – looking for new members ahead of their summer production

Words by Ed King / Pics supplied by CLOC Musical Theatre Company

From 10 January, Kingstanding’s long running CLOC Musical Theatre Company (CLOC MTC) are restarting their weekly rehearsals – hoping to find more local people with a penchant for the performing arts.

Meeting every Monday evening at St Mark’s Church, Bandywood Crescent, Kingstanding, CLOC are on the hunt for new members ahead of their summer production – offering an open invitation to anyone who wants to check out the company ahead of the upcoming auditions, regardless of previous stage experience or ability.

Having been unable to tread the boards due to Covid and lockdown restrictions, Monday 10 January marks the long awaited return of CLOC’s weekly workshops – with rehearsals running from 7:30pm.

But the Kingstanding company pride themselves on being “a family”, hosting many social events outside of their Monday rehearsals – including a regular curry club, Christmas meals, and trips to places of interest around the UK.

Anyone interested in finding out more about CLOC MTC can drop in to one of the weekly Monday evening sessions – or contact the company directly by calling Stacey on 07990 727355 or emailing info@cloc.org.uk

All ages are welcomed, although children under 14 must be chaperoned by a responsible adult – with production roles available both onstage and backstage.

Established as an operatic ensemble back in 1937, the company’s first production was Clementine Ward’s three act operetta Peal the Fisher Maiden.

Producing a variety of annual musicals, stage shows, and concerts, including special variety shows for active servicemen from 1942-4, CLOC now present two productions each year – a regular pantomime in February, followed by the company’s “main show” later in the year.

CLOC are now working towards their summer production of Godspell – Stephen Schwartz’s renowned musical that retells the Gospels of Matthew – with a performance set for July this year.

The company will then look towards their 2023 pantomime, Beauty and the Beast.

Previous productions have included Tom Jones (1940), Annie Get Your Gun (1966), South Pacific (1984), and Fiddler on the Roof (2005) – alongside firm panto favourites including Aladdin, Jack and the Beanstalk, Dick Whittington, and Cinderella.

CLOC have performed shows in a variety of theatre spaces across Birmingham, including Sutton Coldfield Town Hall, Highbury Theatre Centre, The Crescent Theatre, and The Old REP.

Celebrating it’s 85th year in 2022, CLOC have staged over 158 productions throughout the years – making it one of North Birmingham’s longest running musical theatre companies.

Now able to meet up and rehearse for the first time since Covid, the near century old company is looking for more tireless thespians, confident crooners, and dedicated dancers to get involved – welcoming any ages and stages.

Ben Neville from CLOC MTC told Erdington Local: “The last two years have been pretty miserable, but CLOC are starting rehearsals again and we’d love to welcome some new members to the group.

“We are very much a warm welcoming company; we welcome anyone who wants to tread the boards, who wants to come and be part of something. We’re like a family. We welcome all ages and talents… we make everyone feel at home when they come through the doors.

“With our company, there are roles both on stage and working backstage – we have some members who might not want to be in a certain show but want to help backstage, and we welcome that.

“We want everyone to take part and there are many opportunities to do different things and to learn new skills.

“We’ve had two years of misery; we’ve not been able to do much. And this is an opportunity to step out of your comfort zone and to try something new. So, if you’re a lover of the theatre and you’ve always wanted to get on stage, this is the place to do it.

“Don’t be shy, we’re all in it together, and we will support and cheer everyone on with every performance.”

For more on CLOC Musical Theatre Company visit www.cloc.org.uk

NEWS: Jason Delaney charged with wounding and threats to kill following dramatic stand off with police on Hillaries Road

Words by Adam Smith

A man has been charged with brutally attacking a Kingstanding pensioner last week and forcing police into a stand-off on Hillaries Road, Erdington.

Jason Delaney, 49, appeared before Birmingham Magistrates’ Court on Saturday August 28 – charged with wounding and threats to kill.

Delaney was at the centre of a dramatic stand off on Hillaries Road on Tuesday August 24, which saw residents being told to stay in their homes before he was finally apprehended and Tasered by armed police.

In a pre-planned operation, dozens of officers surrounded the Stockland Green address as a negotiator tried to convince Delaney to give himself up peacefully.

Police believed he might have been carrying a gun and a grenade, which led them to flooding the area with armed response officers and specialist negotiators.

A police spokesperson said: “The 49-year-old eventually left the property and was Tasered by officers following reports he may be carrying a gun and a grenade.

“He was wanted in connection with an attack on a man in Cooksey Lane, Kingstanding on Sunday August 22.

“A man in his 70s was found with a slash wound to his head and was taken to hospital, although thankfully his injuries were not serious.”

The police spokesman added: “He (Jason Delaney) was remanded in custody to appear at Birmingham Crown Court on 24 September.”

Jason Delaney has now been charged with wounding and threats to kill and is set to appear before a judge.

Following the Kingstanding attack, a West Midlands Ambulance spokesman confirmed: “We were called to reports of a stabbing in Cooksey Lane on Sunday at 4.45pm.

“An ambulance, paramedic officer and the Midlands Air Ambulance from Cosford with a MERIT trauma doctor and critical care paramedic on board attended the scene.

“Crews treated one man who had sustained serious injuries which required trauma care on the scene. The man was conveyed by land ambulance on blue lights to hospital for further care.”

NEWS: Armed police storm house on Hillaries Road in pre-planned operation following knife attack in Kingstanding

Words by Adam Smith

Armed police stormed an Erdington house this afternoon tasering a man who was arrested in connection with the stabbing of a pensioner in Kingstanding.

In a pre-planned operation, dozens of police officers surrounded the house on Hillaries Road as a negotiator tried to convince the man to give himself up peacefully.

The operation had been organised by West Midlands Police after threats had been made against the force by the man – the scale and size of the response was in relation to potential danger to officers and civilians.

Erdington MP Jack Dromey confimed the orchstrated actions of the force later in the day.

He told Erdington Local: “I have been kept closely informed by West Midlands Police about the incident on Hillaries Road in Stockland Green. This was a pre-planned operation that was targeted at a specific individual who was wanted in connection with a serious crime.

“Understandably, the scenes have been disturbing for local residents. I welcome therefore the deployment of a large Police presence to ensure the situation was kept under control and to minimise any potential risk to those living nearby.

“The Police acted swiftly and decisively in apprehending the individual and I would like to thank them for their hard work in keeping the people of Erdington safe.”

During the raid, frightened residents were told to stay inside their homes as the drama played out with Hillaries Road witness describing the events as “terrifying, deeply upsetting and concerning.”

At 3.30pm the police operation concluded with a 49-year-old man being tasered, arrested and taken to hospital.

A West Midlands Police spokesman said: “A man has been arrested following a stand-off at a property in Hillaries Road, Erdington, this afternoon.

“The road was closed as firearms officers secured the scene and a force negotiator encouraged the man to come out peacefully.

“He was arrested at 3.30pm after a Taser was deployed and is being taken to hospital for minor injuries sustained during his arrest.”

The spokeman added: “The 49-year-old has been detained in connection with an attack on a man in Cooksey Lane, Kingstanding.

“The man in his 70s was taken to hospital although thankfully his injuries were not serious.”

The pensioner suffered a “slash wound” on his head during the attack on Sunday afternoon.

An air ambulance landed at nearby St George’s Playing Fields and after the victim was found there remained a large police presence on Cooksey Lane.

A West Midlands Ambulance spokesman said: “We were called to reports of a stabbing in Cooksey Lane on Sunday at 4.45pm.

“An ambulance, paramedic officer and the Midlands Air Ambulance from Cosford with a MERIT trauma doctor and critical care paramedic on board attended the scene.

“Crews treated one man who had sustained serious injuries which required trauma care on the scene. The man was conveyed by land ambulance on blue lights to hospital for further care.”

The previous day, Saturday, a 27-year-old man was stabbed in Witton Lakes Park, off Perry Common Road.

Three men punched and stabbed their victim in what the police described as “a targeted attack.”

The latest two incidents mirror a worrying increase in knife crime across Kingstanding and Erdington after the murder of schoolboy Dea-John Reid on College Road during May Bank Holiday weekend.

NEWS: Police warn knife crime has “increased drastically” across Erdington after Dea-John murder

Words by Adam Smith / Pics by Ed King

Knife crime has “increased drastically” in Kingstanding and Erdington since the murder of schoolboy Dea-John Reid during May Bank Holiday weekend.

West Midlands Police officers are now conducting more searches of people, public places, and parks for knives – and warned young people not to carry a weapon for self-defence.

Kingstanding PCSO Meg Skelding explained in an email to local residents about the sudden spike in knife crime.

She said: “There has recently been an increase in knife crime within Kingstanding and the surrounding areas. This has increased drastically within the last month even after a young male lost his life to knife crime.

“We need to work together now more than ever to help decrease the amount of knives that are on our streets, please have a word with your young people about the dangers of carrying a knife and even more so about the effects of using a knife.”

Schoolboy Dea-John Reid, aged 14, was stabbed to death on May Bank Holiday Sunday on College Road.

Tensions ran high after his murder which also sparked a massive outpouring of grief – culminating in a vigil at the spot he died, attended by more than 1,000 people.

His funeral was held in Lozells in private last month as his family did not want the service to become a magnet for crowds.

Bishop Desmond Jaddoo, who organised the vigil and advised the Reid family, is unsurprised the police have revealed knife crime has increased.

He told Erdington Local: “I understand there have been several serious incidents since the Dea-John’s murder. I have also been told there has been an increase in racially motived crime too.”

Bishop Jaddoo had targeted Kingstanding last year as an area which needed life-saving bleed control kits installed in local shops and businesses.

He said: “Our research showed after inner city Birmingham, Kingstanding was the area where young people were in danger because of knife crime.

“So, it does not surprise me there has been an increase in knife crime because the problem was already there and the murder has made the situation worse.”

Tragically before locations were found for ten bleed control kids in the area, Dea-John was stabbed to death on College Road, a crime which shocked the entire community.

PCSO Skeldon believes the high-profile murder has led to more young people leaving their home with knives in the misguided belief they will be safer.

She added: “The majority of stabbing victims are stabbed with their own knife that they have taken out for protection.

“If you have concerns about someone or are worried that they might be being drawn into the peer pressure of carrying a knife, then please do not hesitate to get in touch.”

Specialist anti-gang officers have been operating in Erdington and Kingstanding and have succeeded taking dangerous knives off the street.

On Friday West Midlands Police’s Birmingham Organised Crime and Gangs Team tweeted: “Plain clothes officers had cause to stop and search two males on Wheelwright Road in Erdington yesterday evening.

“Both males arrested following the recovery or these awful weapons. There is no excuse! #LivesNotKnives.”

For advice and guidence from West MIdlands Police on knife crime visit www.west-midlands.police.uk/your-options/knife-crime 

To locate a Weapon Surrender Bin in your area visit www.westmidlands-pcc.gov.uk/tackling-violence/weapon-surrender-bins 

BACK TO SCHOOL: Celebrating African culture (and staying healthy) with Ivory Coast dance workshops at Kings Rise Academy

Words by Ed KIng / Pics supplied by Kings Rise Academy

Children at Kings Rise Academy have been exploring and celebrating African culture – with two days of dance workshops from Gaspard Zamble, founder and director of the Zamble African Dance Company.

Children from all year groups at the Kingstanding primary school took part in the workshops, which explored a repertoire of the regional dances of the Ivory Coast.

The Ivory Coast (officially the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire) is a country located on the south coast of West Africa, with roots into some 60 distinct ethnic groups and one of the most varied and dynamic traditional dance cultures in West Africa.

Led by Gaspard Zamble, the African dance workshops gave children at Kings Rise a chance to try something they may never had experienced outside of the school – as well as giving them a fun way to exercise and encourage good health.

All ages took part, from the older pupils in Year 6 right down to the youngest children in Kings Rise Academy’s nursery and Early Years groups.

Kings Rise Academy has recently invested over £175,000 in a new nursery and Early Years setting, which will open its doors at the beginning of the new school year in September – offering the children of Kingstanding the best start to their education.

Kings Rise Academy Vice Principal, Gary Byrne, told Erdington Local: “The dance workshops were a lot of fun and a great way for the children to learn about African culture – Gaspard was amazing, and the children really engaged with him.

“The rich culture and history of the Ivory Coast is not something everyone would get the chance to experience, but now our young people have learnt a bit more about the world we live it – inspiring them the look further, explore deeper, and learn even more.

“Plus, as it’s dancing, it’s a healthy alternative to classroom based learning.

“Our children have done so well during lockdown but now we’re back together it’s good for them to work and learn together, in a way the encourages better health.”

Nursery and Reception places are still available at Kings Rise Academy, with open days on Wednesday 7 July and Thursday 8 July – limited places are available for other year groups.

To arrange visits on alternative days, simply contact the school office who will be happy to help – call (0121) 464 4635 or email kraenquiry@kingsrise.org

For more on Kings Rise Academy visit www.kingrise.bham.sch.uk