Yaya Mbye murder: Stoke Newington victim told police he had ‘lost £1,000 and people were after him’

Yaya Mbye. Picture: Met police

Yaya Mbye. Picture: Met police - Credit: police

Knife crime victim Yaya Mbye told police people were “after him because he lost £1,000 that didn’t belong to him” two days before he was stabbed to death in Stoke Newington.

Police at the scene on the George Downing Estate in 2018. Picture: Emma Bartholomew

Police at the scene on the George Downing Estate in 2018. Picture: Emma Bartholomew - Credit: Archant

Yaya, 26, of Albion Road, Stoke Newington, collapsed in the children's playground on the George Downing Estate at 11.30pm on January 28 2018, after being knifed four times.

The perpetrators have never been brought to justice, but an inquest was held today at Poplar Coroner's Court attended by his mother, brother and cousin.

Yaya died of shock and haemorrhage in hospital an hour after the attack due to a 17cm deep stab wound.

In a statement read out at court, one witness described how he had been out on his kitchen balcony having a cigarette when he heard three loud screams.

"It sounded like someone was in pain," he said. "I saw three guys right across from my balcony standing in a triangular form. Two were standing to the left of the male I now know to be the victim."

Because the light was dim, he couldn't work out what they looked like or what they were wearing, and he lost sight of them as he watched Yaya walk away limping.

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"I called out and said: 'Are you OK?' and he replied and said: 'No'," said the witness, who noticed he was bleeding and called 999 before rushing downstairs to help, along with others.

"It was becoming chaotic, and crowds of people were screaming," he said.

A toxicology report showed Gambian-born Yaya was most likely high on cocaine and possibly heroin at the time of his death.

His brother told the court his family had no idea he had ever taken the class A drugs.

But Yaya was said to have been involved in county lines drug dealing and had been seen smoking crack in Hertfordshire two days before. Police were called to the flat in Ware after reports a London gang was selling drugs after cuckooing the home.

In a statement read out at court, Sgt Nichols Kane of Hertfordshire Police, said Yaya was found inside, and had been dropped off by three men known only as "Matt, Gav and Mash" to sell drugs, according to a witness.

A strip search revealed Yaya had no drugs on him, but before leaving he told officers he "needed to find his crack pipe".

"He seemed to be under the influence of a substance. He was dozy and spaced out," said Pc Kane, who dropped him off at Ware train station. "On the journey he made mention he had lost £1,000 that didn't belong to him and people were after him. He wouldn't say who they were.

"He asked if he could sleep at the police station, but it wasn't an option as we don't have a facility."

Giving evidence at the inquest, Det Sgt Jason Grey from the Met's murder squad said a lack of CCTV, forensic evidence and witnesses meant the investigation had hit a brick wall.

He explained how three lines of enquiry were put forward within days of Yaya's death.

Regarding whether he owed money, he said: "That was never bottomed out and it's impossible to say".

It was also suggested Yaya may have been killed in a turf war.

"At the time there was an ongoing dispute between two gangs, and it may be that he was in the place at the wrong time, as a gang were driving around looking for someone to avenge a previous attack," said Det Sgt Grey. "But again there was no evidence to take that further and there is no suggestion he was involved in gang related activity."

The last line of enquiry was the Herts county lines drug dealing. A man was arrested in April in possession of a phone Yaya had been in "frequent contact" with on the deay of his death. Call data suggested the person drove Yaya to Herts, but when asked about what he knew by police he gave "no comment" answers.

"Unfortunately without CCTV or forensic evidence, we were unable to put any concrete evidence to him," Det Sgt Grey added.

At the crime scene cops had found wraps of white powder and a black substance - later revealed to be class A drugs - and one 9mm unspent live bullet on the ground.

"It was capable of firing and looked at by a ballistic expert, but there's not a suggestion a gun was fired and it's possible it's a red herring," said Det Sgt Grey. "It's not beyond the realms of possibility for an estate in Stoke Newington to have a live bullet on the floor."

Coroner Mary Hassell returned a verdict Yaya was unlawfully killed.

"It doesn't close the police investigation and that will be open until the perpetrator is found," she said.

Anyone with information should call 020 8345 1570 or 101 or alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at crimestoppers-uk.org.