THE father of murdered 14-year-old schoolboy Kevin Ssali says he is "relieved" the trial is over and forgives his son’s teen killer.
Roree Cox, 18, from Wardalls Grove, New Cross, was found guilty of murdering the teenager after stabbing him on a bus in Lee Green in a dispute over a woolly hat on September 15 2012.
Kevin, who lived with his mother Clemence Mudage in South Norwood, and commuted to Crown Wood College, Eltham, had been missing for two months before he was stabbed.
Kevin’s father Sewa Ssali says parts of the trial were “horrific” but its conclusion has helped provide closure and he is “thrilled” his son has been exonerated.
The 55-year-old, who temporarily lives in Lee High Road, close to the stabbing, told News Shopper: “The trial was quite lengthy, but we are absolutely thrilled that at least Kevin has been exonerated because there was this issue that he was the tormentor.
“At the end of the day, this was a complete fabrication. It was the other way round. They bullied him. It was horrific to hear some of these things in the trial.
“Last time I said that there were lots of things that were haunting us and things unanswered, but actually quite a lot of information came out during the trial so it’s a very big relief and it provides some closure to the whole episode.”
Cox ran onto the 202 bus, which had been travelling down Burnt Ash Road, brandishing a knife before stabbing Kevin once on the top deck. He denied murder but jurors unanimously found him guilty on January 15.
Speaking of Cox, Mr Ssali said: “I have no vengeance. I forgive him, it is up to him to come to it now himself.
“It is a terrible tragedy because these are kids who under normal circumstances should be playing together, contributing to society.
“We all as a society have got to sit down and question ourselves and think what is it that we are not doing right that our kids are ending up in a situation like this.”
He says the death of inspirational leader Nelson Mandela during the trial helped him with his attitude of forgiveness and hopes to work towards preventing further tragedies happening.
Kevin, who had two half brothers Tim Ssali, 25, Bobby Gillam, six, and two half sisters Sara-Marie Ssali, five, and Anne Ssali, 36, dreamt of becoming a bank manager.
Tim Ssali, who lives near Mountsfield Park, Catford, said of his brother: “He was very friendly with everyone, he got on with everyone.
“Sometimes I went with him to the park – he would just get anyone to play with anyone.”
Speaking of the guilty verdict, the 25-year-old student of mechanical engineering at Southbank University, said: “It was a very big relief and hopefully that sends out a message to the youths carrying knives that they won’t get away with it.
“It was over something very little. I am wondering how it happened. It shows you are not safe anywhere in London – that even over a minor thing someone could go that far.”