Family holding vigil for John Kennedy, murdered in Railway Arms pub in 1997

John Kennedy and friend Julie in 1997

John Kennedy and friend Julie in 1997 - Credit: Gaynor Kennedy

Hundreds of supporters are expected for a candlelight vigil calling for justice for a man murdered in a pub in London’s East End 17 years ago.

John Kennedy and friend Julie in 1997

John Kennedy and friend Julie in 1997 - Credit: Gaynor Kennedy

Relatives and friends of father-of-two John Kennedy will march through Cable Street to the vigil on Saturday where Shadwell’s Railway Arms once stood in Sutton Street—the scene of the knife attack which left him dead on February 8, 1997.

A man was arrested after John’s murder, but later released and never convicted.

Now the family say they have more evidence and want the police to act so they can finally move on with their lives after 17 years.

“Not enough has been done to arrest the killer,” his sister Gaynor told the Advertiser. “We believed for all these years that a man was acquitted—but found out he didn’t even go on trial.

“Bringing the killer to justice won’t bring John back, but will let the family including our mother get on with life.

“Letting the killer walk free is rubbing sort into the wound.”

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A reward of £20,000 is on offer by Scotland Yard for evidence leading to conviction.

Police want to talk to a witness who left a note with information about the man who stabbed 31-year-old John. He handed a note last Christmas into St George’s Town Hall in Cable street, where the Shadwell and Wapping neighbourhood police team is based, but didn’t leave his name or contact details.

The family are also appealing to the 60 people who were in the Railway Arms to end their “code of silence” and come forward and give evidence.

“They want to do the right thing, but are afraid of acting alone,” Gaynor added. “Now it’s time to forget the old East End ‘code of silence’—that’s in a criminal world, not the real world.”

The family expect 200 supporters to Saturday’s vigil, many of whom have followed John Kennedy’s Facebook page.

John—the brother of Jade Jones from the boy band Damage—was with friends at Sorrell’s club in Commercial Road the evening before, then went on to the Railway Arms at 3am.

“The killer was looking for someone else in the pub,” Gaynor continued. “He couldn’t find the guy, so he targeted John who he knew and didn’t like.”

John, a self-employed electrician living with his partner and two young children in Oban Street in Poplar, collapsed after being stabbed and was rushed to the Royal London Hospital at Whitechapel, but died two hours later.

Det Chief Insp John Sandlin, from the Met’s Homicide and Major Crime Command, said: “Some of those who were in the pub who were reluctant to talk to us at the time may feel they’re able to speak now.”

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

Meanwhile, supporters calling for justice for John are gathering in St George’s Gardens, between Cable Street and The Highway, at 1pm on Saturday, to march to Sutton Street for the 2pm vigil.