Published: 00:01, 24 October 2017
Family and friends of a teenager who died after being stabbed have launched a campaign for tougher penalties for knife crimes.
Popular 17-year-old Kyle Yule was fatally stabbed near his Gillingham home on Friday, October 6, and died in hospital the next morning.
And while his family are still reeling from the death, stepdad Samir Ghailan is determined the tragedy will prompt changes in the law and help save lives.
His calls for action come on a weekend that saw a stabbing in Gillingham, when a man was attacked during a burglary in Gardiner Street, around 4.30am on Sunday.
Mr Ghailan, 27, said their Families Against Knives campaign will push for tougher sentences – life for anyone convicted of stabbing someone and a minimum five-year jail term for anyone found in possession of a knife, and that life sentences should be “whole life” jail terms.
“The only thing we can do now is try to get something positive out of this,” he said.
“There are a lot of families going through this – it’s terrible, but with all the statistics coming out now this is a great opportunity to achieve something.
“We believe the laws around carrying knives are too soft – if anything they encourage youths to carry them.
“There’s almost like a cool factor around knives, and there’s a lot of teenagers that think they need them for protection.
"But there are only two things that are going to happen if you have a knife – you’re either going to kill someone or you are going to get hurt yourself.
“For carrying a gun you get a minimum of five years, and in the UK guns account for around 2% of killings.
"Stabbings account for nearly 40%. Something needs to be done – if they started locking people away for five years they’re going to think again about carrying a knife.”
Mr Ghailan said the latest figures showed knife crime had increased by 20%, and Medway had been identified as the worst area for knife crime in Kent.
He said the impact on Kyle’s family had been devastating.
His biggest challenge had been helping Kyle’s younger brother and sister, Vinnie, eight, and Aaliyah, six, to come to terms with what had happened.
“It’s been the hardest couple of weeks of my life,” he said.
“Everything has changed. The kids are with us now. It’s never going to be the same.
“The impact it’s had on everyone is terrible. We had so many plans for Christmas and everything has been thrown on its head.
"We’ve tried to keep the kids away from it to a certain extent but there’s only so much you can do.
“We’ve kept them busy – we went to Peppa Pig World. I wanted to show them that they can still be happy, but it’s hard for them to know how to react.
"I keep saying if they want to talk or want to cry then I’m here for them.
“The hardest part of it was the next morning after it happened. It was the worst morning of my life – everyone came together and just broke down.
“Now we’re just channelling everything into this campaign. I’m trying to show the kids that this world isn’t like this – that people don’t just go around stabbing people.”
He said former Brompton Academy pupil Kyle, of Hamilton Road, Gillingham, had been due to start working in a new job, and that he would be remembered for his great sense of humour.
“Kyle was a good kid,” he added.
“He wasn’t a nasty kid. He didn’t deserve any of that.
“Kyle was a joker, and he was very much one of the boys. He loved music, he loved Arsenal, and he liked to go out with his mates.
"We believe the laws around carrying knives are too soft – if anything they encourage youths to carry them" - Samir Ghailan
“He was at that age where that was the centre of his universe, and he would turn up to protect his mates.
"He was a very good kid and he was a funny lad. We would always have a joke.”
A 16-year-old has appeared in court charged with Kyle’s murder. The boy, who cannot be named due to his age, was charged after being arrested in Sittingbourne where he lives. He was also charged with affray.
He appeared in youth court, at Medway Magistrates’ Court the following day, and was remanded in custody.
He spoke only to be identified as he appeared in the dock at Maidstone Crown Court yesterday.
He was again remanded custody to HMP Cookham Wood in Rochester.
The boy will next appear with co-accused Victor Maibvisira, 19, of St John’s Road, Gillingham, on November 14, when they are due to enter pleas to the murder charge.
A provisional trial date has been set for April 3 next year.
A third teenager, a 17-year-old also from the Gillingham area, was previously charged with threatening a person with a blade after a separate incident in Gillingham Road, Gillingham, on Sunday, October 1.
He appeared before Medway youth court where admitted the charge. He was remanded until his sentencing on Tuesday, November 7, at the same court.
Six others have been arrested and released.
Two 20-year-olds and a 15-year-old boy, all from the Gillingham area, have been released under investigation.
Four others from the Gillingham area, aged 15, 16 and two aged 18, have all been bailed until various dates in November.
Anyone with information is asked to call police on 01634 792209 quoting reference SI/XY/009396/17, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.