Police issue appeal over ‘senseless’ shooting but family reveal pain and frustration of long wait for justice
Mother, sister and girlfriend of man killed after popping out to buy milk feel like they have got no answers
10 September, 2020 — By Bronwen Weatherby
Wilson Varela with his girlfriend Julie Krasevec
THE devastated family of drive-by shooting victim Wilson Varela say they feel increasingly frustrated that his killers have not yet been caught.
Tuesday marked the first anniversary of Mr Varela’s death in Prince of Wales Road, Kentish Town – a case detectives are still treating as a suspected mistaken identity.
He had just gone out to buy some milk. That day he had moved into a new apartment in Camden with his girlfriend Julie Krasevec, who had moved from Paris so they could start a new life together.
Mr Varela, 24, an aspiring musician from Portugal, had been set to start a music course at London South Bank University.
The assailants are said to have used a shotgun and made off on a moped, and this week, in a renewed appeal to the public for information, the police revealed they have tracked the killers using CCTV from the murder scene to the Surr Street area of Holloway.
Anyone who was there or may have seen the moped and riders waiting in Marsden Street by Malden Road are asked to come forward.
Crimestoppers are still offering a £10,000 reward.
Police searching for clues last year
Detective Chief Inspector Simon Stancombe, leading the case, said: “We want to hear from anyone who might know anything – no detail is too small. It is not too late to do the right thing.”
But, Mr Varela’s family in Portugal say they feel “left in the dark” in relation to the investigation.
His mother Luisa Varela told the New Journal: “It has been very hard for us to deal with his death. We feel lost and broken inside. We speak with Julie almost every week, and we try to give each other strength to keep moving forward with life, but it is hard to do it.”
“We feel like, since we are away, we are put to the side in this case. As a mom I just want to know what happened to my son.”
Two men were arrested last October on suspicion of the murder. They were later released and remain under investigation.
Mr Varela’s sister, Brenda, added: “We don’t have much information about how the case is going and we feel just as confused as on the first day. We try to talk with the police but they say they have no answers.
“It’s heartbreaking for my mother to know that her boy died in a country he loved and get no answers from that same country.”
Wilson’s family held a memorial for him on his birthday this August
Mr Varela’s friends in London and Ms Krasevec helped fundraise around £7,000 to fly his body home to his family in Portugal. They also erected a memorial for him at a skatepark he frequented.
Exactly two months after his death on November 8, Mr Varela’s funeral was held surrounded by friends and family.
“Wilson had the biggest family ever, so many people loved him. Now we need justice for Wilson,” said Brenda Varela. “We can’t let this case be forgotten.”
Devastated, Ms Krasevec moved back to Paris two weeks after her boyfriend’s death. The couple had been together for three years having met on holiday in Lagos. The morning of his murder had supposed to be her first day in university studying a degree in communications.
She said: “That day my mum had helped me move into the apartment and after taking her to the Eurostar, me and Wilson had met in Camden and gone to buy some things for the flat. We’d even gone around Camden Lock market and then went back and watched movies all evening.
“When I’d gone to bed he was just heading out for a smoke and I’d asked him to get some milk while he was out. Normally, he would’ve gone to the shop next door but it was shut and instead he said he’d walk to somewhere he knew was open 24 hours in Chalk Farm.
“That night I thought I felt him climb into bed with me so when I woke up around 5am I was surprised he wasn’t there. All morning I texted him but I thought he might’ve bumped into a friend while out and ended up sleeping at theirs.
“I was on my way to uni when I got a call from Brenda, she already knew. I caught a taxi back home but he couldn’t drop me off there because the police had closed the roads so I got out by the crime scene and walked over to the police. For about two hours I thought I was in a horrible dream.”
Friends painted a mural at Mr Varela’s favourite skate park in east London
Ms Krasevec added: “I was 21 when it happened, in my first 48 hours of being in London. I’m 22 now and a whole year of my life has passed and I haven’t been back to school. My life and Wilson’s family’s life will be on hold until I know what happened to him.
“I was so proud of him, he was in a really good place in life. I just want people to understand that it’s so hard to lose someone in this way. There were so many things we were supposed to do, he was so young,” she said.
Alexa Loukas, from Crimestoppers said this week’s appeal was a “chance to put things right, to speak up 100 per cent anonymously and help Wilson’s family.” Call 0800 555 111.