13/02/2009

Father Appeals Over Paralysed Son's Shooting

The father of a teenager paralysed in a shooting incident has joined investigating officers to urge witnesses to come forward.

Speaking from his son's hospital bedside Paul Smith said he knew people had information about those who shot and injured Raphael Smith, but couldn't understand why they had not spoken to police.

Raphael, aged 18, had been socialising with friends at a community centre in Shellness Road, E5, at 9.15pm on 17 December last year, when a group of youths burst in and fired shots.

The student was struck along with his 17-year-old friend. Both were taken to hospital and whilst his friend was later discharged to recover at home Raphael's condition deteriorated.

He suffered severe brain damage and is currently paralysed from the neck down.

Mr Smith said: "At first I was relieved to hear Raphael had survived but we had no idea how badly injured he was. He relies on a machine to breath and remains in a coma. We have visited the hospital every day since this happened and had to celebrate Christmas and Raphael's 18th birthday at his bedside.

"Raphael was so popular with so many friends. He loved his music and was hoping to train as a plumber soon.

"It's all been taken away and the whole family are devastated."

Raphael's father, who works for Hackney Borough Council and has another son and two daughters, said the local community should work together to ensure justice for Raphael and his friend.

He added: "We know people have information and can help the police catch those involved. My family have spoken to people and we know how many flats overlook where this happened. The gunmen don't deserve to have their freedom and they will always be a risk to our community."

Despite several appeals and a meticulous investigation by the Met's Operation Trident, officers still need information about the shooting.

On 19 December 2008 two men aged 18 and 21 were arrested in connection with the inquiry. They have been bailed to return to an east London police station in February 2009.

Two further men aged 19 and 20 were arrested in December 2008 in connection with the inquiry. They have also been bailed to return to an east London police station in February 2009.

(JM/BMcC)

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