Hayling shocked by knife killing
Islanders reacted with horror and dismay last month after the violent death of a Hayling teenager.
Zak Davis, aged 17, of St John's Close, was stabbed to death and four other people were wounded in a late-night incident on the night of April 28-29 in Bembridge Drive, a residential road near the seafront at Eastoke.
Tearful friends left flowers and messages near the spot where Zak died and there was profound shock and grief at the Hayling College, where Zak was a former student.
A flag flew at half mast outside the college as a mark of respect.
One resident bravely rushed to give Zak first aid, and the emergency services also arrived quickly, just after midnight on Sunday, April 29.
Two police cars, which happened to be patrolling nearby, appeared within moments of the first emergency call.
A police officer also administered first aid but was unable to save Zak, who died at the scene.
Police immediately opened a murder investigation and Detective Superintendent Tony Adams appealed for witnesses to come forward.
At first, around 50 officers were working on the investigation.
Bembridge Drive was cordoned off as police carried out house-to-house inquiries and scenes of crime officers, in special white clothing, searched the area for forensic evidence.
Initially two men, aged 22 and 36, were arrested in connection with the incident. The 22-year-old was released soon afterwards without charge but 36-year-old Wayne Lee, of Bembridge Drive, appeared before Portsmouth Magistrates on May 3.
He was charged with murder and two offences of wounding with intent.
On May 1, police organised a meeting for community leaders to discuss the incident.
Councillors, youth workers, pub landlords, residents' representatives and local journalists were among those invited to the meeting, which was held at the Park View Community Centre in West Town.
The meeting was chaired by Chief Inspector Will Schofield, who emphasised that – contrary to some newspaper reports – the police did not regard the incident as a 'gang crime'.
There was no inner city-style 'gang culture' on Hayling, and knife crime was also extremely rare on the Island, he said.
Paul Phillips, the Chairman of Warren Sands Estate Residents' Association, said local people had become more cautious and nervous since the killing and he appealed to the police to increase patrols in the Eastoke area, to help people come to terms with the situation.
He also said that the local area had seen an increase in crime over the past five years, with vandalism, theft, tyre slashing and other problems.
He asked: "Is this pattern of increase in crime likely to have an effect on police resources?"
Chief Inspector Schofield said that in fact there had only been a slight increase in criminal damage and violent crime in the district, but he added: "There has not been a significant rise in all crime, so that is not likely to earn us more resources."
Inspector Darren Murphy added: "Hayling Island is not a sleepy hollow. There were around 5,000 crimes last year in total." These included 75 incidents of criminal damage caused by a tyre-slashing spree, he said.
The death of Zak Davis was not a predictable event and was highly unusual type of crime for this district or anywhere in the Hampshire Constabulary area.
Andrew Moss, Deputy Head Teacher at the Hayling College, confirmed that the school was a safe place where there had been no knife incidents.
He said: "Since this happened, there has been a tangible down-turn in morale in school. Year 11 assembly was deathly quiet, and it seems to me that students are taking time out and gathering their thoughts."
The Rev Ann Leonard, Vicar of St Peter's and St Andrew's, appealed to the police to extend the opening hours of Hayling Police Station to help reassure residents.
Chief Inspector Schofield said that he was reviewing the situation and would consider the possibility of moving the police station to a more prominent position in one of the shopping centres.
He would also be reviewing how police could best be deployed in the area, but he could not promise that there would be any extra officers on Hayling Island.
Community leaders were asked to let residents know the facts and to help quell unfounded rumours of knives and gang crime.
The meeting ended with a further appeal for information to help the police inquiry.
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Weather for Hayling
Tuesday 21 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 7 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 22 mph
Wind direction: North west