Express & Star

Mother of murdered teenager rapper given "hope" by gang and violence report

The mother of a teenage rapper murdered in a knife attack has backed the findings of a report into gangs and violence in the West Midlands.

Alsion Cope, whose son Joshua Ribera was just 18-years-old when he was knifed in a car park outside a nightclub in September 2013.

Joshua Ribera was just 18-years-old when he was knifed in a car park outside a nightclub in September 2013.

The Birmingham rapper and his killer, who was also 18, were attending a memorial event for another youth who had been stabbed the year before.

His mother, Alison Cope, has spoken to around 2,000 youngsters across the region since his murder about the risks and dangers associated with knife crime.

Yesterday she attended an event at which a Commission for Gangs and Violence, set up by West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) David Jamieson, revealed its recommendations.

Mr Jamieson has launched a £2 million crackdown on gang violence in response to the commission's findings.

Ms Cope, said: "This is one of the most crucial reports I have seen. When you lose a child they don't just die, you die too.

"You spend your entire life grieving and time doesn't make it better.

"This report gives me hope. It is the first time I have had the feeling that we can make a difference if we work together, and I think that is the key."

The PCC's two-year scheme will fund 'gang negotiators' to try and break up violence between rival crews, and specially trained mentors to turn young people away from the gang lifestyle.

It will also pay for support to rehabilitate ex-offenders and stop them returning to gangs, while youngsters at risk of school expulsion will get extra support.

It comes as the West Midlands is in the midst of a crimewave, with violent crime and incidents involving knives and firearms on the rise over the last year.

The crackdown will initially focus on Birmingham before being rolled out to the Black Country.

Ms Cope added greater education on the consequences of knife crime may have made her son's killer think twice.

"Many young people think they can stab someone and they will be ok," she explained.

"But there are consequences for that person, consequences of being a murderer and consequences for their family.

"If Joshua's killer had that knowledge he might have thought twice about it. I imagine he didn't as he had no previous convictions.

"Joshua is lost and he is lost. There are no winners."

Also speaking at the event was Darren Laville whose son, Kenichi Phillips, was shot dead as he sat in a parked car in the Ladywood area of Birmingham in March last year.

Two men have been handed life sentences for his murder and a woman from Dudley who sheltered one of his killers was jailed last month.

Mr Laville, said: "I have been told 'it is good news about the convictions, at least you have some closure.'

"They may bring a slight sense of justice, but never closure."

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