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‘This time we need justice’: grief of parents whose three sons were killed

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A couple who have lost three sons in separate killings have voiced their despair over youth violence in London.

In their first interview since the third death, which happened last month, John and Linda Burke-Monerville said the loss of three of their seven children felt like “a terrible dream” and described their emotions as a “multiplicity of grief”.

John Burke-Monerville said: “On this third occasion, we need to get justice for our lost sons.”

David Bello-Monerville, 38, was fatally stabbed outside his north London home in the early hours of 19 June. Three men have been charged with aggravated burglary in relation to the incident.

His brother Joseph Burke-Monerville was shot in 2013 in a case of mistaken identity. He was 19. Their eldest brother, Trevor Monerville, was stabbed to death in 1994, aged 26. No one has been convicted of either killing.

John and Linda said David had been deeply engaged in the campaign for justice in his brothers’ cases.

“These three boys were all innocent souls, none of them had anything to do with gangs,” said Linda. “Our family has never had any issues with police or social services. I was a teacher and always taught my children the value of education. I don’t understand why this keeps happening to us. We were just minding our own business. Why can’t we have peace? Why couldn’t our children be allowed to grow up like other children?”

David Bello-Monerville and family



David Bello-Monerville, left, was photographed with his parents and brother Jonathan in 2017 as they campaigned for justice over the killing of Jonathan’s twin, Joseph. Photograph: Linda Nylind/The Guardian

David was with two of his brothers, Jonathan, 25 and Taiye, 34, when he was killed. The three men charged with aggravated burglary have been named as Francis Appiagyei, 27, Nathan Harewood, 27, and Khalil Rehman, 26.

In February 2013, Joseph was killed as he sat in a car in Hackney, east London, with his twin, Jonathan, and older brother David. Jonathan and David were injured in the shooting.

A trial of three men suspected of his murder collapsed in 2015. A coroner ruled that Joseph had been unlawfully killed. During the inquest it was alleged that a masked gunman was told by an accomplice to “waste them anyway” when the three brothers said they were not from the estate that their attackers had suspected.

The twins’ parents had previously sent them to boarding school in Nigeria to avoid them getting caught up in gang violence. The boys returned seven months before the shooting and were both studying forensic science at London Metropolitan University.

In 1994 the family’s oldest son, Trevor, was stabbed by a group of five men in Hackney.

The family have a WhatsApp group called Keeping In Touch With Mum. They told the Guardian that the day before David was killed he had started a new job, which he was very happy about. He was an engineer and construction worker. He had messaged the family group saying “Hi guys. God is good all the time. Just got a call from my agency. They agreed I can start tomorrow.”

Linda said: “He was such a hard-working boy and he had just finished the first day of his new job. He finished work at 3.30pm, collected his two boys aged seven and 12 from school and then went to his second job working in a barber shop.” His sister Jackie described him as an “awesome dad”.

“Everything was falling into place for him and then this happened,” Linda continued. “Our family is very close and loving. I can’t accept David is gone.”

Like the rest of the family, David had been grief-stricken about the death of his two brothers and working hard on a campaign for justice for them. Jonathan is still receiving counselling to help him deal with the trauma of witnessing his twin’s killing.

Jonathan and Joseph Burke-Monerville



Jonathan Burke-Monerville and his twin brother, Joseph. Photograph: Family collect

John Burke-Monerville said: “We are a peaceful and loving family. On this third occasion we need to get justice for our lost sons. We are asking ourselves what is happening to the younger generation. David was campaigning for justice for his two brothers when he was killed. As a grieving family we would like to know: when will this violence stop? After so many years of pain and sorrow I cannot believe that this has happened to us again, that once more a wonderful son has been taken from us.”

Linda Burke-Monerville witnessed the incident that led to David’s death last month. When she saw he had been stabbed, she screamed: “Not again, I can’t afford to bury another one.”

She said: “Our family is feeling this latest killing tenfold. No one can understand the multiplicity of our grief.”

Brothers Joseph and Trevor are buried side by side but their parents want to move their caskets to a new plot. They have launched a crowdfunder to ensure that the three brothers can be buried together.

“We hope that finally we will get justice for our sons,” Linda said. “It’s all too much for us to carry on without help from the public. We will never, ever get over this. We will never be at peace.”

Stafford Scott, a community activist who has known the Monervilles since the death of Trevor in 1994, said the latest killing had left him “shocked, stunned and saddened”. Referring to the film Saving Private Ryan, in which the US government sends men to save Pte James Ryan after three of his brothers are killed in the second world war, Scott said: “We are allegedly not at war in this country but I ask our government to go all out in the name of this family to stop any other family experiencing this kind of suffering.”

The family made a 15-page complaint to the Metropolitan police documenting their concerns over the investigation into Joseph’s killing. They allege failings of police surveillance and intelligence before the death and failures in the handling of the key witness and the disclosure of evidence. They are awaiting a response to their complaint.

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