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Islington stabbing: Tributes to Tony Eastlake at vigil for flower seller stabbed to death outside his stall

A vigil has been held in memory of a beloved flower seller who was stabbed to death near his stand in north London.

The vigil for Tony Eastlake, 55, known as the "flower man of Islington" was attended by dozens of people who released blue balloons outside the stall where he worked since he was 14.

A chorus of "there’s only one Tony Eastlake" broke out on Monday evening, as friends, relatives and members of the community shared memories of him.

A murder inquiry has been launched after Mr Eastlake was attacked near the stand in Essex Road, Islington, on Saturday afternoon. Police officers and paramedics tried to help him, but he died at the scene.

Jody Graber was a friend of Mr Eastlake’s and witnessed the stabbing.

He told those gathered: "This has been a massive trauma for our community. It should not have happened.

"This is for Tony Eastlake – the loveliest man who could sell you a bunch of flowers."

He described the events on Saturday as "horrendous" and said: "I wouldn’t wish it on anybody to see what we saw and you can’t unsee things like that.

"But Tony’s legacy is going to continue and we’re not going to let it go, we’re not going to let him be forgotten."

Tony Burke, a friend of Mr Eastlake’s added: "He was such a lovely man. He was not just the flower man of Islington, he was a friend. I will miss him terribly.

"He would not let me pay for the flowers for my father’s funeral. I had to force him to take the money. He always had a smile for everyone."

Rebekah Kelly leads a local community group and organised the vigil.

Ms Kelly said she wanted to do so because of Mr Eastlake’s standing in the community.

She continued: "Whether they knew Tony by name, or they called him ‘the flower man’, they were shell-shocked."

Sue Lukes, a Labour councillor for Highbury, said the flower seller’s death is "a really devastating loss".

She added that it comes at a time when the area is still "mourning the loss of a lot of other people in our communities who had been on the front line (of the COVID pandemic) and shops and things like that".

"It feels terribly cruel to lose Tony like this," she added.

Cllr Lukes said Mr Eastlake had been a cornerstone of the community for decades, and that a lot of people laying flowers for him "probably used to come by here as toddlers".

His family said in an earlier statement: "Our hearts are broken forever at the loss of such a very special man.

"A man who was loved by everybody in the Islington community, who is remembered as kind and caring and always laughing, but most importantly, a father who leaves behind a devastated family, Lisa, Pauline, and his only daughter and best friend Paige, who he adored."

Officers from the Met’s Specialist Crime Command have launched a murder investigation – but say they do not know what was behind the stabbing and are keeping an "open mind" as to a motive.

Witnesses have reported seeing the victim involved in an altercation with another man before the assault.

Detective Chief Inspector Vicky Tunstall, leading the investigation, had said earlier: "Tony was a well-known, loved and respected member of the community.

"He had worked on and owned the flower stall on Essex Road for the last 39 years and was someone of considerable standing within the local area."

Police are particularly keen to hear from people who were in Halliford Road or Ecclesbourne Road between 5.20pm and 5.25pm on Saturday, as well as people in residential blocks and houses between those roads and Essex Road, who may have private CCTV they could share.

Police would also like to hear from delivery drivers and owners of cars with dash cams who were travelling through the area at the time of the incident.

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