ON a sunny spring evening more than 100 children and adults gathered by the roadside in Slade Green, clutching flowers and coloured balloons.

At first sight it could have been some kind of celebration or a fun event.

And in a way it was a celebration for the life of a 12-year-old girl, Gemma Rolfe, killed by a hit-and-run driver on May 19 last year. Hit-and-run drivers are cowards. They kill and maim people and are too afraid to take the consequences of their actions. They run away and hide; conceal their identity, rather than face up to what they have done. They destroy families who spend the rest of their lives coming to terms with what happened to their loved one.

But the case of Erith School pupil Gemma, is a little different.

Many people, including Gemma's family and the police, believe they know who was driving the stolen white van which crashed into the car carrying her to Guides. The name of the teenager is widely quoted across the area in connection with the accident. Yet no one will come forward and say they saw him at the wheel of the van, or that he has told them he was driving.

Gemma's mother, Janet Ford, has condemned this "wall of silence" and so does News Shopper. Why protect the guilty at the expense of the innocent? Why let a coward off the hook and condemn Gemma's family to suffer? If you know anything, come forward - now.