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Father of talented athlete describes ‘horror’ as son’s killers are convicted

UK News | Published:

At the time of the killing, the knifeman, Alex Lanning, had been on licence for a previous stabbing in Brighton.

Hillingdon stabbing

The father of a talented athlete stabbed to death on his way to a watch a football match has condemned the “senseless, needless, horrific” violence as two men were found guilty of the killing.

Tashan Daniel, 20, had kissed his father goodbye before setting off to see Arsenal take on Nottingham Forest at the Emirates Stadium.

Within an hour, his father witnessed efforts to save his son, after he was stabbed in the chest at Hillingdon Station, west London.

At the time of the killing, the knifeman, Alex Lanning, had been on licence for a previous stabbing in Brighton.

Hillingdon stabbing
Alex Lanning was convicted of the murder of Tashan Daniel (BTS/PA)

The 22-year-old had admitted Mr Daniel’s manslaughter but denied intending to seriously harm him, claiming it was an accident.

Following a trial at the Old Bailey, Lanning, from Hillingdon, was convicted of murder.

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His friend Jonathan Camille, 19, from Fulham, was cleared of murder but convicted of manslaughter.

Hillingdon stabbing
Tashan Daniel (Family handout/PA)

Mr Daniel’s family reacted with tearful joy as the guilty verdicts were delivered after six hours of deliberations.

Speaking outside court, his father Chandy Daniel, 59, said his son was a “fantastic human being” with “so much potential and so much to give”.

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He said: “That life, that prospect, that future, was cruelly and needlessly taken away on the afternoon of September 24 2019.

“On that day a man, who let’s not forget, already held a conviction for stabbing someone else, was free to walk around with a murderous weapon in his possession…

“That same convicted criminal was able to choose to cross a bridge and a platform for absolutely no reason to confront our innocent son.

“It is in no doubt, nor has it ever been, that this was a senseless, needless, horrific and ultimately unnecessary act of violence. One that our family shall be paying for for the rest of our lives.”

Hillingdon stabbing
The parents of Tashan Daniel embrace outside the Old Bailey (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Describing the last moments of his son’s life, he said: “As parents, we had to watch in disbelief as the paramedics worked on our son’s lifeless body on that platform at Hillingdon – a platform which we will never feel able to use again.

“I held him, stroked his face, and kissed him, as he lay on that platform, only to be told by the paramedics that there was nothing more that they could do for him.

“My wife – his mother – collapsed at the news, unable to comprehend what was happening to our darling boy.”

He condemned the killers for their “complete lack of remorse of empathy” as they tried to avoid responsibility.

He added: “Whatever sentence is bestowed on Alex Lanning and Jonathan Camille, it cannot even begin to compare to the life sentence with which we are eternally enforced to live.”

Chandima Daniel, father of Tashan Daniel, holds a photograph of his son
Chandy Daniel, father of Tashan, holds a photograph of his son during a vigil (Steve Parsons/PA)

Previously, court had heard how Tashan Daniel was “excited” at the prospect of seeing Arsenal play at the Emirates for the first time on September 24 last year.

At about 3.30pm, he kissed his father goodbye and walked to Hillingdon station with his friend, Treyone Campbell, who was going to the football with him.

Prosecutor Jonathan Rees QC told jurors that Mr Daniel did not know his attackers, who had been on the opposite platform going the other way.

Lanning had been “looking for trouble from almost the moment he walked onto the westbound platform”, the prosecutor said.

The catalyst appeared to be that Lanning thought Mr Daniels was “looking at him across the rail tracks”, the court heard.

The defendants changed platforms to confront the pair, the court heard.

Mr Rees said: “When the violence erupted, Camille quickly became involved in a fight with Treyone Campbell, and he was still fighting him when Alex Lanning carried out the fatal stabbing.”

The court heard Lanning had a previous conviction for wounding a man with a knife in Brighton dating back to July 2016, as well as having 250 wraps of heroin.

Lanning had been released half way through a four-year sentence in 2018 and was on licence for those offences at the time he killed Mr Daniel.

Hillingdon stabbing
Police outside Hillingdon underground station (PA)

Following his arrest, Camille told police that he had crossed platforms after Lanning had told him two boys had been abusive to him and he wanted to have a chat with them.

He went on to claim that he started to speak to the pair but was “pushed” by Mr Campbell, causing him to act in self-defence.

But Mr Rees argued that both defendants were “in it together to inflict damage on the opposition”.

Jurors heard Mr Daniel was a talented athlete who trained up to four times a week at Hillingdon Athletic Club.

He worked as a photographer and was described as a popular young man who made friends easily and was devoted to his family.

Judge Mark Dennis remanded the defendants into custody to be sentenced on August 20.

Hillingdon stabbing
Jonathan Camille (BTS/PA)

Detective Chief Inspector Sam Blackburn, of British Transport Police, said: “Tashan had just celebrated his 20th birthday. He was an upstanding young man, and a keen and talented athlete, specialising in the 200m sprint.

“He had set out that day to watch Arsenal play football with tickets he’d received as a birthday present, but instead died in a senseless and unprovoked attack at the hands of Lanning.

“Throughout the trial, we heard of Lanning’s efforts to evade justice and how he was assisted by Camille – fleeing the scene, hiding the murder weapon, and removing and replacing their blood-stained clothes. Witnesses even saw Lanning smiling as he ran away.

“Although both men have now been convicted, and will face substantial jail time, no level of justice will ever be enough for the loss of such a young and promising life, and it won’t fill the hole that Tashan’s death has left in the lives of his loved ones.

“Throughout the investigation and court proceedings we’ve learned about Tashan’s life, the love he shared with his mum and dad, his childhood, his interests and his aspirations. He was a good and loving lad who’ll be dearly missed.”

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