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Located in two redbrick campuses straddling a busy dual carriageway, Edmonton County may not be the most prepossessing state school in London — but down the years it has produced an admirable array of high-achievers.
Among the many past pupils to have risen far beyond their humble beginnings are Tory peer Norman Tebbit, actor Ray Winstone, Olympic silver medallist and TV personality Kriss Akabusi, and the arts polymath Sir Roy Strong.
Negus did not die on a darkened, God-forsaken sink estate.
He was hacked to death in daylight, beside a palm-fronted garden, in a street of smartly-restored Victorian terrace houses.
Painful and lonely as it must have been for an abandoned boy to suffer such insults, though, Akabusi didn’t resort to violence, much less join a gang — for, as he says, in those days, apart from a few bands of skinheads and ‘greasers’, there was none. Their strutting members have become so blasé about the risks of being identified that they posture and threaten to stab or shoot their rivals in rap videos, whose lurid lyrics also glorify their drug taking and macho sexual conquests.
Hollow handlebars are also convenient hiding places for stashing drugs and knives.By all accounts, 15-year-old Negus Mc Lean, the son of a primary school secretary, had every chance of adding his name to this list of successful alumni.A talented rap musician with good looks and charisma to match, he was tipped to emulate chart-topping singer Lemar — another, more recent Edmonton County pupil.But then, as Lord Tebbit, who has just turned 80, said this week, today’s Edmonton is virtually unrecognisable as the place where his family once rented the upper floor of a modest semi in Bury Street — about 400 yards from Westminster Road, where Negus was killed.‘We lived there during the War, but my parents never worried about me walking home, even during the blackout,’ he says.