THE MOTHER of a 16-year-old boy killed during a fight on Saturday night has paid tribute to the "most loving boy that ever walked this earth".
Ben Hitchcock died after he was stabbed in a fight in Southend Road, Beckenham, at the junction with Calverley Close, at 11.36pm.
Eyewitnesses described youths wielding metal chains, poles and pick-axe handles in the fight, which is now the subject of a murder investigation.
Ben, who was a Year 11 pupil at Kelsey Park Sports College, in Manor Way, Beckenham, was taken to Lewisham Hospital by ambulance, where he was pronounced dead.
Lee Hitchcock, of Blean Grove, Penge, said: "My son was loved very much by his family and many friends.
"We will miss him terribly, more than anything in the world.
"Ben was the kindest, happiest and most loving boy that ever walked this earth.
"He was 16 and had just finished his exams at school.
"He had the rest of his life before him.
"I appeal to anyone who knows who killed my Ben to get in touch with the police.
"We must know the truth about what happened."
Ben, who was nicknamed Swipe, was believed to be a member of the Penge Block gang.
Perry Watson, an ex-member of the gang said: "We were from the same area and we played football together.
"I'd known him for around two years, we just started jamming.
"He was down to earth, caring, loving and the joker of the group.
"He was always making everyone laugh.
"We lost a friend called Stefan this year from Norwood so we are trying to keep as a team and stay strong but it's all gone wrong."
The 17-year-old added the gang, which is thought to consist of around 80 members, is planning to pay tribute to Ben by printing and wearing T-shirts reading RIP Swipe.
Ben's headteacher, Brian Lloyd, said: "We are all absolutely devastated and shocked, it's a tragic loss of a young man's life.
"Our thoughts are with his family at this time.
"He had worked so hard to pass his exams and I understand he was looking to do a course at Bromley College.
"It's just such a waste.
"He was just a normal kid, he was chipper and had a great personality.
"He was just a normal kid who did normal things."
His last words were 'Please help me, phone my mum'
One woman who was driving past the fight, stopped to try and help Ben.
The 30-year-old mother-of-four said: "His last words were 'Please help me, phone my mum'.
"I just saw him lying on the pavement, his mates were saying 'Come on, you can't leave us like this, get up and run'.
"They were only kids, it's all street wars between Blue borough and Green borough.
"We get it all the time and there will be a lot more because there's nothing for the kids to do.
"They need to be taught violence is not the answer."
Neighbours from the flats overlooking the scene have described the "mayhem" of a "terrifying" incident.
An ex-police officer, who does not want to be named, described how the incident unfolded.
He said: "We heard lots of shouting in the street and all of a sudden there were somewhere between 30 to 40 youths there.
"There was one large gang who seemed predominantly black, who came from the direction of Lewisham.
"The other gang came from the direction of Beckenham and seemed to be mixed.
"They were carrying pick-axe handles, metal scaffolding poles and other homemade weapons and swinging chains above their heads.
"They seemed to be big guys and they all pulled their hoodies up when they were around 50 yards away from each other.
'They were all armed and up for trouble'
"They were all armed and up for trouble - that much was obvious.
"These people were out for one reason and that was to seriously injure or worse.
"They were armed, they were organized and they came out of the silence and caused mayhem.
"Different fights seemed to be going on between different people, cars were having to turn around and go back or just accelerate straight through them.
"It must have been absolutely terrifying for people driving through it - I think some of the gang members were trying to hit the cars.
"It was just a big melee, there was fighting going on all over the place.
'It was bordering on a riot'
"It didn't look to me like any one person was being targeted, it was bordering on a riot.
"We called the police but the fighting was going on for a good five or 10 minutes before they arrived.
"We saw the boy who we later learned had died, lying on the pavement. An ambulance fast response car arrived about five minutes later.
"The ambulance crew was working on him for a while - by this point the Lewisham gang had already withdrawn in the direction they had come from.
"The Beckenham gang also seemed to vanish - apart from six or seven people who stayed with the victim."
Some residents from the overlooking estate say they have heard rumours the fight was over a girl and took place after a party.
The eye-witness added: "We have heard the same hearsay.
"There was lots of shouting but I did not hear one racist comment.
"It was orchestrated and planned and I have to say I am quite concerned about reprisals."
A post-mortem examination held yesterday at the Princess Royal University Hospital, in Farnborough, revealed the cause of death as a stab wound to the abdomen.
An inquest into Ben's death will open and adjourn at Croydon Coroners' Court tomorrow.
So far 14 youths have been arrested in connection with the investigation, including one girl.
All 14, who are aged between 13 and 16-years-old, were bailed last night and will return to a south London police station on June 27.
A police spokesman said: "It is believed it began after a group tried to enter a house near to Southend Road, where a party was in progress.
"That group was excluded and the party then finished.
"We believe calls were made to others and as the partygoers entered the street, their number was supplemented by others arriving, bringing the total to around 40.
"A number of knives and bricks were recovered from the scene."
At a press conference at Southend Road, Detective Superintendent Simon Morgan said: "Up to 40 youths were involved in the incident which began when approximately six boys were barred from entering a party in a nearby location.
"Police arrived and the party was closed.
"A group left the party and the incident took place shortly afterwards.
"Anyone in the area on Saturday who may have seen the incident please come forward.
"All parents of teenagers who may have been at the party, speak to them and help us piece together what happened."
A Bromley police spokesman told News Shopper they had increased patrols in the area since the incident in response to community concerns, but stressed there had been no specific threats of reprisals.
The incident is being investigated by the Homicide and Serious Crime Command, based at Lewisham, under DCI Dave Garwood.
Anyone with information should contact the incident room on 020 8721 4961, or Crimestoppers 0800 555 111 to remain anonymous.
- Do you have any photos of Ben you would like to share with us? Click here to email
- News Shopper has set up a condolence page for friends or family of Ben to post messages. To visit the page click here
- Click on the video below to watch a tribute to Ben on YouTube.