Two teenagers have been jailed for the brutal and unprovoked murder of 17-year-old Jodie Chesney in Harold Hill.
Svenson Ong-a-Kwie, 19 , of Hillfoot Road, Collier Row, and Aaron Isaacs, 17 , of Westrow Drive, Barking, who can now be named after reporting restrictions were lifted, were sentenced today (Monday, 18 November) at the Old Bailey.
Ong-a-Kwie was jailed for life with a minimum term of 26 years and Isaacs was jailed for life with a minimum term of 18 years.
The pair were found guilty by a jury on Thursday, 7 November following an eight-week trial at the same court, which was presided over by HHJ Wendy Joseph QC.
Members of Jodie’s family attended court throughout and heard how she lost her life as she spent time with friends on what was a typical Friday night.
On Friday, 1 March, the talented pianist, had finished college for the afternoon and had gone home to Dagenham to walk her dog. She and her boyfriend then met up with four of their closest friends at Romford railway station, before heading to St. Neot’s Road play park, known locally as Amy’s Park, in Harold Hill.
As the group of friends sat on a bench table in the park, talking and listening to music, Ong-a-Kwie, and Isaacs went into Amy’s Park.
Jodie was stabbed once in the back and the killers fled the scene in a black Vauxhall Corsa.
Over the following days and weeks, two men and two teenagers were arrested on suspicion of Jodie’s murder, during a fast-paced investigation led by Detective Chief Inspector Dave Whellams.
At a post-mortem examination at East Ham Public Mortuary on Sunday, 3 March the pathologist attributed the cause of death to a combination of shock and haemorrhage.
Upon the conviction of Ong-A-Kwie and Isaacs, DCI Whellams said:
“This has been a long and traumatic process for Jodie’s family, and today marks the start of years of imprisonment for her killers.
“Jodie’s life was ended in the most brutal way by Svenson Ong-A- Kwie and Aaron Isaacs, and I hope her family and friends feel some measure of justice has been served.
“On that Friday in March, Jodie was not in the wrong place at the wrong time, she was simply living her life as a teenager should – carefree and with her friends.
“I would like to thank Peter and Joanne Chesney, and the rest of the family for their belief in my officers as we investigated the murder of Jodie. Our support will be ongoing, as they continue to grieve and attempt to adjust to life without their daughter.”
Commander for the East Area Borough Command Unit, Detective Chief Superintendent Stephen Clayman, said:
“Our thoughts and deepest sympathies remain with Jodie’s family as sentencing is today passed down to the two people responsible for her murder.
“It has almost been nine months since Jodie was killed in Harold Hill, and nothing could ever have justified the extinguishing of her young life.
“Havering, like many boroughs across London, has experienced the tragic and inexcusable loss of young life as a result of knife-related violence.
“This is why bearing down on violent crime on the streets of our capital continues to be the Met’s top priority. We will continue to work tirelessly – day and night – to identify and pursue offenders, help bring perpetrators to justice, take weapons off the street, support victims, engage and reassure the public, and keep our communities safe.
“We all have our part to play in tackling violent crime and our communities are key to this. My message to anyone who may have information about crime or those who carry a weapon or, through exploiting people, put young people’s lives at risk is simple: have the trust and confidence to tell us and please don’t be a bystander.”
Jodie’s father Peter Chesney said in an impact statement:
“The murder of my beloved daughter has destroyed my life and the full extent as to how this has affected my family and me cannot possibly be explained simply in words.
“I have no idea how I am going to continue with my life or even come to terms with the loss.”
Jodie’s sister Lucy said in an impact statement:
“I am only 20 and already I am dreading my life rather than looking forward to it. Jodie was not only my sister she was my best friend. Losing her is like losing half of myself. We went through everything together and she was always there for me and always putting everyone before herself. She gave me a type of love I will never feel again.
“I am anxious about everything: leaving the house, staying in the house, meeting people. If someone as good and pure as Jodie could be murdered, it could happen to anyone and I spend everywhere I go looking over my shoulder because of it.
“Jodie will be greatly missed and the people who caused such tragedy to a whole family should hang their head in shame. You have ripped away a bright future that was destined to make a change to many lives.”
Jodie’s cousin Kirsty said in an impact statement:
“The phone call that I received on 1 March that my youngest cousin had been ‘attacked’ and has ‘passed away’ will be a phone call that I will never forget. I went completely numb and held my daughter so tight that night; I could not believe my ears. It still does not quite feel real.
“Jodie’s murder has affected my family and me in so many different ways. When she was killed, I was heavily pregnant with my son. This was meant to be a really happy time of my life but wasn’t.
“I ended up giving birth on the day of Jodie’s funeral, so I didn’t get chance to say goodbye. One of happiest days of my life, giving birth to my son, was also one of the saddest, as it was the day we had to say goodbye to Jodie. And every year on his birthday will be a reminder of another year since her funeral.
“How are any of us supposed to get over something like this? The answer is we never will but we just have to learn to deal with it. Jodie will never be forgotten.”