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Vicar calls for end to knife crime as ‘big character’ Lee J Hatley is laid to rest

Vicar tells mourners at funeral of stabbing victim Lee J: ‘He died a senseless death... you young people can help to put a stop to this’

11 August, 2017 — By Emily Finch

Mourners follow the cortege through the streets

“THIS day is wrong, it’s wrong on so many levels but it has come,” said the Rev Susie Paddock to the hundreds gathered at St Mary’s Church in Upper Street on Wednesday for the funeral of Lee John Hatley.

As a neighbour who watched Lee J grow up, Ms Paddock led the service for the 29-year-old stabbed to death at a Canonbury flat in June.

“He died a senseless and unnecessary death, and you, you young people that sit here today, his age group, his friends, you can help put a stop to these pointless and heartbreaking killings of our young men,” she said.

“The future of this world is you that sit here today.”

Lee John Hatley

An hour earlier, hundreds of Lee J’s friends and family had followed the funeral cortege in a heavy downpour from the house off Barnsbury Street he shared with his mother Lesley Hatley to Milner Square – the home of his good friend Jonathon “JJ” McPhillips, who was also stabbed to death in February.

Both young fathers, they attended nearby Highbury Grove school and spent their youth playing together. They were both taken to the Royal London Hospital, in Whitechapel, where they died just four months apart.

Ms Hatley and Lee J’s sister Lauren asked the 300-strong crowd to pause at the entrance to Milner Square so they could pay their respects to JJ. Lee J’s coffin was placed for a few minutes in front of a makeshift shrine for JJ – which now includes photos of both men playing with their children.

JJ left behind two little girls, Lexi and Evie, when he was stabbed in Upper Street, while Lee J had a two-year-old son, Nicholas.

A floral tribute to the young father

The hearse laden with flowers which spelt out “brother”, “dad” and an effigy of Lee J’s beloved childhood dog Goldie led the way down Upper Street in the rain.

At a packed St Mary’s, the coffin was carried in to Lenny Kravitz’s Fly Away. Ms Paddock reminisced about the man she first met as a child.

“He was a happy and smiling baby and he grew into a toddler that found the world around him was full of things he loved,” she said. “Lee J loved animals and being out in the countryside.”

Jonathon “JJ” McPhillips

She read a poem chosen by Holly, the mother of Lee J’s son, which ended with the line: “Lift up your heart and share with me. God wanted me now, he set me free.”

Mourners cried as Lee J’s mum read a poem she penned herself: “You were determined, loyal, courageous and strong. You left the world at a quarter to seven, you’re now with JJ and Goldie in heaven.”

Lee J’s aunt Hester recalled how as a teenager her nephew woke at 4am to go and listen to the dawn chorus on Hampstead Heath.

• Bradley Wood, 24, of no fixed abode but from Islington, has been charged with Lee J’s murder. He will next appear at the Old Bailey on September 20 to enter a plea.

 ‘He had the best jokes, the best one-liners’

Lee J’s friends Alev Ahmet and Vula

MOURNERS gathered at the Green Man pub, in Essex Road, after the cremation at Islington Crematorium to remember the friend they knew as “a big character”.

Alev Ahmet, who met Lee J four years ago through mutual friends, said: “He would always joke about me being small. We had a real friendship, and he left such an impression.

“When my grandad died he really supported me. Life is never going to be the same without him.”

Lewis, 22, who helped carry the coffin into the church, said: “He had the best jokes, the best one-liners. When you were in a cussing war with Lee J, you would never win. We were like brothers. We would hang around with each other every day. He was a good guy.”

JJ’s 21-year-old cousin Georgia Sparkes added: “Growing up, Lee J was a big character. He was just like JJ, and they both became family men who adored their children. I’m tired of the funerals.”

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