Prince William (left) visits Swindon-based youth charity BEST - Be A Better You, set up by Don Bryden (right), where he pledged support to stop youngsters turning to knife crime

Prince William pledged his support to efforts to stop youngsters turning to knife crime during a visit to an anti-youth violence charity earlier today as the nation reels from the horrific death of Elianne Andam.

His visit came after 15-year-old Elianne was stabbed to death in Croydon, south London, on Wednesday – the latest tragic young casualty of an escalation of violence on the nation’s streets.

William, 41, met workers at Swindon-based BEST – Be A Better You, an organisation which provides sports training and one-to-one mentoring to keep teenagers and young adults out of trouble.

Don Bryden – who set up the group with wife Sarah in 2020 after their daughter Jess became exposed to criminal exploitation – told the prince that Britain was suffering a ‘knife crime pandemic’. 

Mr Bryden added: ‘We spoke in depth about what the country is lacking – respect and morals.’

The visit had been arranged before Elianne was brutally knifed in the neck with a kitchen knife on her way to school. A teenage boy appeared at Croydon Youth Court charged with murder and possessing a knife today.

Prince William (left) visits Swindon-based youth charity BEST - Be A Better You, set up by Don Bryden (right), where he pledged support to stop youngsters turning to knife crime

Prince William (left) visits Swindon-based youth charity BEST - Be A Better You, set up by Don Bryden (right), where he pledged support to stop youngsters turning to knife crime

Prince William (left) visits Swindon-based youth charity BEST – Be A Better You, set up by Don Bryden (right), where he pledged support to stop youngsters turning to knife crime

Elianne Andam was fatally stabbed in the neck in Croydon, south London, on Wednesday

Elianne Andam was fatally stabbed in the neck in Croydon, south London, on Wednesday

Elianne Andam was fatally stabbed in the neck in Croydon, south London, on Wednesday

Women lay flowers and tributes at the scene in Croydon close to her death on Thursday

Women lay flowers and tributes at the scene in Croydon close to her death on Thursday

Women lay flowers and tributes at the scene in Croydon close to her death on Thursday

Magistrates were told the teenager knifed Elianne after she tried to take back the teddy bear of a friend from her ex-boyfriend while walking to school, The Sun reports.

Prosecutors said the 17-year-old then chased and stabbed the schoolgirl.

Outlining the circumstances of the case, prosecutor Nicola Grindey said Elianne met two friends, including one who had allegedly just ended a relationship with the suspect, and Elianne had allegedly intervened in a heated row between them both.

The court heard that, in what was a pre-arranged meeting with a boy, Elianne had taken a bag with her friend’s belongings off the knifeman.

The defendant then gave chase before the stabbing, Ms Grindey told the court.

The teenager, who sat outside of the dock in the courtroom, facing the judge, spoke only to confirm his name, date of birth and address at the beginning of the hearing.

Dressed in a grey prison tracksuit and wearing a pair of glasses, the 6ft tall boy remained calm throughout while fidgeting with a small plastic cup of water.

Croydon Youth Court, sitting at Croydon Magistrates’ Court, heard the boy was accused of the murder of Elianne Andam on her way to school early on Wednesday morning outside the Whitgift centre on Wellesley Road in Croydon.

District Judge Daniel Benjamin remanded the teen – who cannot be named for legal reasons – into youth custody before a hearing at the Old Bailey next Tuesday.

Prosecutor Nicola Grindey, outlining the case, told the court: ‘On September 27, Elianne Andam met with two friends prior to attending school.

‘A meeting was arranged with the defendant, who was the ex-boyfriend of one of her friends. He was wearing a mask and gloves and was with another boy.’

Ms Grindey said Elianne had attempted to retrieve some of her friends’ belongings from a plastic bag the girl’s ex-boyfriend was holding.

She grabbed the plastic bag and was ‘pursued’ by the defendant who stabbed her multiple times in front of a group of terrified onlookers, Ms Grindey said.

He was later arrested and, following his arrest, was said to be ‘fully compliant’ with police.

‘Clearly he is charged with a violent offence,’ Ms Grindey added. ‘We have got a boy who stabbed a young girl in the middle of the street.

The teenage murder suspect is driven into Croydon Magistrates' Court in London this morning

The teenage murder suspect is driven into Croydon Magistrates' Court in London this morning

The teenage murder suspect is driven into Croydon Magistrates’ Court in London this morning

‘[He was] walking around with a knife and, tragically, has committed the senseless murder of a young girl.’

District Judge Benjamin sent the case to the Old Bailey next week, and remanded the accused teenager into youth detention.

He told him: ‘I cannot grant you bail today. People charged with murder can only be granted bail by a crown court judge.

‘I am sending your case to the Central Criminal Court – also known as the Old Bailey – for Tuesday, October 3. I am remanding you to youth detention accommodation.

‘It’s alleged that you used a knife to cause the greatest possible harm to another person. That concludes the hearing.’

Elianne was wounded in the neck in Wellesley Road at about 8.30am on Wednesday.

The 17-year-old suspect was arrested in New Addington just over an hour later.

Elianne’s family visited the scene where she died yesterday evening as crowds gathered outside the police cordon and prayers were said.

She has been described by her family as the ‘light of our lives’. They said she was ‘bright and funny’ and ‘had her whole life ahead of her’. 

Elianne’s heartbroken mother broke down in tears as she laid flowers at the spot where her daughter died.

Dorcas Andam was consoled by husband Michael and dozens of relatives as they paid their respects to the aspiring lawyer.

It is claimed that Elianne, a keen gymnast and cheerleader, died as she stepped in to defend her friend.

She was on her way to classes at Old Palace of John Whitgift private school when she was killed – leaving her loved ones devastated.

Yesterday evening around 30 relatives held a vigil at the city centre bus stop where she died, laying flowers as they consoled one another.

Bishop of Croydon, Rosemarie Mallett, read a powerful family statement alongside Elianne’s aunt Marian.

‘We, as a family are struggling to comprehend this painful tragedy that has happened to our beautiful daughter and beloved sister Elianne,’ she said. ‘Our hearts are broken. We are overwhelmed by sorrow and grief but our faith in the Lord is strengthening us.’

Elianne Andam was on her way to school when she was attacked on Wellesley Road

Elianne Andam was on her way to school when she was attacked on Wellesley Road

Elianne Andam was on her way to school when she was attacked on Wellesley Road 

Family and friends of Elianne Andam at the scene of the killing in Croydon yesterday evening

Family and friends of Elianne Andam at the scene of the killing in Croydon yesterday evening

Family and friends of Elianne Andam at the scene of the killing in Croydon yesterday evening

Elianne's parents were being comforted by 30 members of her family in Croydon yesterday

Elianne's parents were being comforted by 30 members of her family in Croydon yesterday

Elianne’s parents were being comforted by 30 members of her family in Croydon yesterday

The statement described Elianne as ‘a beautiful person inside and out’ who was ‘intelligent, thoughtful, kind and had a bright future ahead of her’.

Hours earlier they had told how their ‘lives have fallen apart’ while Elianne’s dreams of becoming a lawyer ‘have now been shattered’. The GCSE student’s stabbing has shocked the nation with Rishi Sunak saying he was appalled.

Elianne has a six-year-old brother who she helped look after. Family friend Adama Dumbuya, 30, said: ‘I just can’t imagine what he is going to be like. She had a little brother. I know they were so close. She always looked after him. He is going to be so heartbroken.’

Witnesses said Elianne was killed after intervening in a row between a friend and a boy after they had got off the number 60 bus.

The boy is said to have tried to offer the other girl flowers and a love letter to get back together with her but was rejected.

A bus driver tried to revive her and emergency services dashed to the scene but could not save Elianne. 

Police arrested a 17-year-old boy at New Addington tram station an hour later. 

Friends paid tribute to the victim last night, with one writing: ‘Elianne died saving her friend. She died for the people she loved the most.

‘She was there for her friends and family in a second, she made people laugh with her annoying jokes and was a right hand to the people she loved the most.’

Another wrote: ‘Elianne is my sister, no words could even describe the person she was. People who met her can’t even describe her to you because she was just perfect.’

Elianne's aunt Marian (in beige cardigan) was consoled as they looked at the bus on Thursday

Elianne's aunt Marian (in beige cardigan) was consoled as they looked at the bus on Thursday

Elianne’s aunt Marian (in beige cardigan) was consoled as they looked at the bus on Thursday

A female officer is comforted by her colleague as they attend the vigil in Croydon last night

A female officer is comforted by her colleague as they attend the vigil in Croydon last night

A female officer is comforted by her colleague as they attend the vigil in Croydon last night

The killing has reignited anger over the knife crime epidemic sweeping London with Croydon among the worst areas in the capital. Mr Sunak called for longer sentences for ‘the most heinous crimes’.

The Prime Minister told the BBC: ‘It just illustrates the importance of clamping down on knife crime. The idea that a girl not much older than my own kids would have their life just cruelly ended in that way is absolutely shocking.’

Transport minister Richard Holden said London Mayor Sadiq Khan must focus on knife crime.

But Mr Khan hit back, accusing the Tories of using the alleged murder ‘as a political football’.

Elianne’s friends were said to be sobbing and ‘so emotional’ at her school yesterday, according to Donna Murray-Turner, chairman of the local safer neighbourhood board. 

She said: ‘Staff, teachers, talked about when Elianne entered a room you knew she was there. And her friends, as you can imagine, were sobbing. They were so emotional.’

Detective Chief Inspector Rebecca Woodsford, who is leading the investigation, said: ‘My thoughts and the thoughts of my team are with Elianne’s family.’ 

A post mortem examination was conducted yesterday.

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