Corey Junior Davis: Safety concerns had been repeatedly raised before 14-year-old was shot dead in Forest Gate
PUBLISHED: 12:15 19 October 2018 | UPDATED: 14:04 19 October 2018
A 14-year-old boy who was being groomed by gangs before he was shot dead in Forest Gate "wasn't seen through the lens of exploitation but as an offender", a serious case review has revealed.
The report, which analysed the events leading up to the death of Corey Junior Davis, found that little had changed for him despite “hundreds of professional hours” provided to try and support the teenager.
Corey, known as CJ, was gunned down in a playground in September 2017. No charges have been made over his murder.
Prior to his death, concerns had been raised by his mum, Keisha McLeod, who feared he was being groomed by gang members and had been worried about his safety.
The report reveals his case files show he was “highly vulnerable” and being groomed.
Despite that, there was “little evidence that agencies effectively responded to his experiences as a victim”.
Concerns were first raised about CJ’s behaviour and for his safety in April 2016, with a police report stating he was “associating with troublemakers” and an officer believing he may be a target for gangs.
Later that year, CJ revealed to his mum, and then his social worker, that he had been coerced into selling drugs on behalf of ‘elders’.
Ms McLeod disposed of the drugs - crack cocaine and heroin with a street value of around £600 - and told officers she would not disclose information until plans were put in place to safeguard CJ.
She was reassured that information would be handled sensitively but no action appeared to have been taken.
At one point, CJ went missing for a week and returned with new clothes and expensive trainers.
He was also caught carrying a knife, which he claimed was for protection, and had also ordered a bulletproof vest online.
CJ, who had ADHD, had been doing well at his primary school in Walthamstow but struggled after transferring to Forest Gate Community School in September 2014.
He was excluded several times and in January 2016, he was moved to Tunmarsh School.
The report states that CJ’s family had felt the move to the pupil referral unit was a “negative and unhelpful decision” as it exposed him to young people with “involvement in violent and drug-related offending at a time when he was highly susceptible to peer pressure and exploitation”.
In December 2016, CJ revealed he had been pressured into selling drugs.
A children’s social care report from the time quoted CJ as saying he was in fear of his life, with his mum also saying she was concerned for the family’s safety.
She made a direct approach to the family’s housing provider, East Thames Housing, requesting urgent relocation for the family on the basis of risk.
An offer of a temporary property in Harlow was made but rejected as Ms McLeod felt that a short term move would not be in CJ’s best interests, and he was living with an uncle in south London at the time.
In June 2017, a potential new property was offered then withdrawn as it was not available. It wasn’t until August, less than a fortnight before CJ’s death, that the housing manager was informed CJ had returned to Newham to live with his grandfather and was high risk.
The report states that East Thames Housing’s response was “appropriate and in line with protocol”, but that there was a “significant missed opportunity” in not making a referral to the pan-London reciprocal housing agreement.
Fourteen separate recommendations were made within the report, including reviewing processes for relocating families out of the borough and to ensure there are appropriate procedures in place for young people at risk of gang affiliation and exploitation.
Mayor of Newham Rokhsana Fiaz said: “The serious case review highlights critical risks facing Corey that weren’t sufficiently understood but pointed to clear dangers to his life.
“Under my administration we are now tackling these through a public health approach, better systems and a culture centred on exemplary safeguarding of our children and young people in Newham.”