The family of a victim stabbed to death supposedly for his part in a killing 18 years before have spoken of their shock at finding someone they knew carried it out.
Rocky Djelal was knifed in Southwark Park by Stephen O’Rourke on October 31 2108 and died minutes later as his father and brother ran to try and save him.
Killer and victim had lived in the same block as children.
A statement issued by the family said: “We are a very close family who adore each other and would do anything to help each other. Rocky was 38 when he was taken from us.
“He led a somewhat troubled and chaotic life and had to deal with the consequences of this. However, to us he was a brother, a son, an uncle and most of all a father. His daughter was 16 years old when her Dad was taken from her.
“The park that evening was full of relatives and friends who wanted to support us and remember Rocky. We all stayed in the park while our priest prayed for Rocky, we were there until midnight when the coroner removed his body.
“Southwark Park is really significant to us as a family and we spent much of our time in this park creating some of our best memories. It was heartbreaking that we never got to say goodbye and that our final memory of Rocky in this park is one that tore us apart.
“The days leading up to the arrests were torture. We couldn’t function properly, we weren’t eating or sleeping and our bodies were in constant fight or flight mode. When the police released CCTV footage of Rocky’s murderer, we didn’t recognise him and we felt helpless. We really thought we would know who it was and be able to help.
“The police officers handling the investigation were brilliant – they worked tirelessly in finding the people who killed Rocky. When we found out they had Stephen O’Rourke in custody we were in utter shock. They used to live in the same block of flats as us when we were growing up.
“For us Rocky was a gentle giant with a heart of gold who adored his daughter and loved his family. He was a joker with a light-hearted, carefree approach to life. He was spirited, fearless and had enough courage to walk tall and stand by his principles. We loved this about him.
“His death has been debilitating for all of us. We miss the individual relationships we had with him and think about him every day. We are all really struggling with the physical, emotional and mental issues that come with losing someone so special to us. The real impact that Rocky’s death has had on our family cannot be put into words. Until you have lost a child, parent, sibling, relative or friend to such violence you will never truly understand the immense suffering or devastating effect it has on your life.
“We have lost two years of our lives waiting for the trial to begin. Although Rocky’s death has bought us even closer together there is still a lot of tension, anger and sleepless nights in our homes as we wait for justice to be served.
“People talk about closure with this trial but for our family there will be no closure. We are living our worst nightmare and we will never wake up from it.”
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