Father of stabbed schoolboy Kevin Ssali had hoped for his safe return as 'a birthday present'

Croydon Guardian: Kevin Ssali had been missing from his South Norwood home for two months Kevin Ssali had been missing from his South Norwood home for two months

The father of a missing schoolboy who was fatally stabbed at the weekend had wished for his son's safe return as a birthday present.

Kevin Ssali died on Saturday night after being attacked as he stepped off a 202 bus in Lee.

The 14-year-old had been missing from his South Norwood home for two months when the attack took place at around 9.45pm. He was rushed to hospital where he later died.

His father Sewa Ssali turned 54 the day before the stabbing and had wished for Kevin’s safe return as a birthday present.

Mr Ssali, who lives in Catford, said: "I was asking for my son to come back home for my birthday present – it wasn’t to be.

"It is absolutely devastating. We are going through all the emotions, we have all the questions and no answers.

"He was a very nice boy and everybody who came into contact with him said he was very humble and polite, very well brought up.

"He was an exceptionally bright boy at school.

"He was quite a charming young man. He had lots of friends."

Kevin went missing from his home on July 13 and his father says there had been a couple of sightings but no direct contact.

He said: "His going missing was completely out of character.

"We took it in our stride and [wanted] to get him back and find out what issues he had and get him back into education."

The pupil of Crown Woods College, Eltham, used to live along Lee High road and may have been visiting a friend on Saturday whose house was close to where he was killed.

He had four stepbrothers and sisters and dreamt of becoming a bank manager like his 33-year-old stepsister.

Mr Ssali has mercy for the perpetrators of the crime, he said: "Within my heart, I have forgiven whoever has done it. I am not out to seek revenge, I don’t want it to cloud my heart.

"It is the failings of society that has put kids in a situation like this. A kid is probably safer in Afghanistan than London right now – it is not a good record to have.

"The message we want to send out is for young kids to be careful – we absolutely wouldn’t want this to happen to any other parent."

Investigating officer Detective Chief Inspector Mark Dunne from the Met’s homicide and serious crime command unit is appealing for witnesses to the incident.

He said: "There were a number of young people on the bus who witnessed this, some of them have already come forward and I need all of the remaining people to give me a call.

"I need to know what the series of events were which culminated in a 14-year-old boy losing his life."

Three teenagers were arrested in connection with the incident.

Two fifteen-year-olds have been bailed and a 17-year-old remains in custody.

Anyone who witnessed what happened is asked to call DCI Dunne on 020 8721 4906.

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