Search

Help us find John’s killer in 1997 Railway Arms stabbing, family pleads

PUBLISHED: 07:00 13 March 2014

John Kennedy before his murder in 1997

John Kennedy before his murder in 1997

Gaynor Kennedy

The family of a man murdered in a pub in London’s East End early on a Saturday morning 17 years ago are appealing this week to an anonymous witness who came forward to get in touch with police.

John Kennedy and girlfriend Julie in 1997John Kennedy and girlfriend Julie in 1997

The witness left a note at a police office with information about the man who stabbed 31-year-old John Kennedy just before 6am on February 8, 1997, but left without leaving his name.

A £20,000 reward remains on offer for information leading to the killer’s conviction.

John—brother of Jade Jones from the boy band Damage—died after being stabbed at the Railway Arms in Sutton Street, off the Commercial Road.

His sister Gaynor, 44, and the family believe they know the teenage killer’s identity, now in his 30s.

John's brother Carlos (extreme left) with sister Samantha, musician brother Jade from Damage boy band, mother Rita, twin brother Denzil and sister Gaynor at his daughter Chantelle's 30th birthdayJohn's brother Carlos (extreme left) with sister Samantha, musician brother Jade from Damage boy band, mother Rita, twin brother Denzil and sister Gaynor at his daughter Chantelle's 30th birthday

She is appealing through the Advertiser directly to him: “You know you did it—you’ve lived with it 17 years. The doors are closing in on you, so do the right thing and give us the closure we need and justice that John deserves.”

The killer was looking for someone else when he turned up at the pub which was packed that night with 60 people and got into a fight with John.

“I would appeal to the man who wrote the note to be brave and follow it through,” said Gaynor. “He is the witness we need for closure.

“There are others who want to do the right thing, but are afraid of acting alone.

"It’s time to forget about the old East End ‘code of silence’—that’s in a criminal world, not the real world"

Gaynor Kennedy

“But it’s time to forget about the old East End ‘code of silence’—that’s in a criminal world, not the real world.”

John was out with friends celebrating at Sorrell’s club in Commercial Road and was going home when they persuaded him to go to the Railway Arms after-hours, arriving at 3am. A girl in the pub made a call and told the killer that John was there.

“We would like to know who this girl was,” Gaynor continued. “The knifeman couldn’t find the guy he was looking for that night, so he chose John instead as his victim.”

The father-of-two from Oban Street in Poplar went to Romania to help build children’s orphanages after Ceaușescu’s Communist regime fell from power.

Nearly 17 years on from his murder, a man handed an annonymous note before Christmas into St George’s Town Hall in Cable street, where the Shadwell and Wapping neighbourhood police team is based, then hurried away.

“I appeal to the write to follow it through,” said Gaynor. “He is the witness we need.

The Met’s Homicide and Major Crime Command is urging him to contact them. Det Chief Insp John Sandlin said: “Some of those reluctant to talk to us at the time may feel they’re able to now.”

A man arrested in 1997 was charged with John Kennedy’s murder, but was not convicted.

John, a self-employed electrician and keen footballer, collapsed after being stabbed in the stomach and died two hours later at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel.

Witnesses in the Railway Arms on February 8, 1997, or anyone with information, are being urged to call the incident room on 020-8345 3865, or anonymously Crimestoppers on 0800-555111.


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the East London Advertiser. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the East London Advertiser