Family of burned alive 'angel' want people to learn lessons from his death

Anthony Billy died on January 19, 2011

Anthony Billy died on January 19, 2011

First published in News
Last updated
Croydon Guardian: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter

A family whose ‘angel’ was burned to death say they may never get justice for him but are still hopeful something positive can come out of their loss.

A coroner ruled last week Anthony Billy died after pouring diesel on himself and setting himself alight in Croham Hurst Woods on January 19, 2011.

But giving a narrative verdict at the conclusion of the inquest into the death, Coroner Selena Lynch but she could not be certain why he had killed himself.

Initially his death was treated as non-suspicious by police but his family received reports from two separate people about a man being murdered in the woods.

And his sister Simmone Simpson says staff at the mental health care home where her brother lived said he had feared for his life.

The inquest heard he also may have worried for his life because of a drugs debt.

Ms Simpson said: "The Coroner said categorically it was not suicide which we are happy about but she said in her opinion it was by his own hand.

"She was acknowledged there was pressure from an external third party."

She said: "The family’s main concern is the police turned up and found a black male dead and deemed it non-suspicious straight away.

"We did not think we were going to get justice because we don’t think the justice system is fair to our community.

"We do believe that somebody killed him but vengeance is mine says the Lord.

"It is not for us to get vengeance."

Mr Billy, who had been diagnosed as having paranoid schizophrenia, had gone through several changes in his care before his death including his consultant psychiatrist being changed.

His sister said this made him ‘transient’ and they had hoped the coroner would have mentioned ways to stop this disruption in care happening to other people, including by recommending a handover period.

She said: "He was deemed to have paranoid schizophrenia but he fought that because he never thought that was correct.

"We wanted to have some better practice guidelines for people who are vulnerable, especially black persons with mental health issues so people aren’t labelling them.

"We are trying to see if there is something positive that can come out of his death for people suffering from mental health issues.

"We have been invited to speak to the South London and Maudsley mental health trust about their policies and processes so if it happens it will be fantastic."

Ms Simpson added: "He was always happy and always smiling.

"His death has taught me a big lesson in life to be happy and live well in life.

"He was a beautiful spirit and we would say ‘Anthony angel’.

"He was a very good brother to all of us and he was loved and revered by all who knew him."

A Croydon Police spokesman said: "A borough police investigation began following the death of Anthony Billy.

"The investigation ruled out any criminal activity or third party involvement.

"Following a complaint from Mr Billy's family about the quality of this investigation, it was recommended by the Independent Police Complaints Commission that a reinvestigation be carried out by the Homicide and Major Crime Command.

"The reinvestigation found no evidence of criminal activity or third party involvement.

"Our sympathies remain with Mr Billy's family for their loss."


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