Bereaved family mark 20th anniversary of Ilford club doorman’s murder
- Credit: Archant
On a cold dark December night 20 years ago, doorman Christopher Lombard arrived at work never to return home.
The 30-year-old was supposed to be out celebrating his sister Jenny’s 40th birthday, but a friend had asked Christopher to cover his shift at the now closed nightclub The Island, in High Road, Ilford.
At 3am on December 1 1996 Christopher and several other bouncers had refused a group of men entry as the club was starting to close, but they returned half an hour later armed.
Seven gunshots smashed the glass doors of the entrance, three hitting and killing Christopher and shattering his family’s world forever.
After 20 years and several appeals, the killer of Christopher remains at large and his family long for justice.
His devastated elder sister, Denise Hastings, who lives in Australia, remembers her brother fondly.
“Christopher was known locally as the gentle giant because of his build and his height he was an avid basketball player, he lived for the game,” she said.
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“He lived in [Green Lane] Goodmayes and was very well known in the area.
“He even helped a family run a small grocery shop by acting as security for them, on occasions, as they used to get many undesirables.”
Christopher’s sister Cheryl Fry added: “I’m very angry. We still have our days, where we sit and talk about things it does get easier but some days are harder than others.
“Christopher was my mum’s youngest. To lose his life at such a young age. He wouldn’t hurt a fly. He had a great sense of humour, its just so wrong.
“It would be closure for my mother if someone was found.”
Christopher’s mother Thelma, of Hornchurch, now 86-years-old and housebound, has been campaigning for justice since he died.
In 2006, on the 10th anniversary of the murder, she told the Recorder of the horror when police broke the news to her after that fateful night.
She said: “When the police turned up on my doorstep to tell me he was dead on that Sunday morning, I thought I was going to die.”
Now the family have reached the 20th anniversary of the gentle giant’s death with few answers.
Mrs Hastings continued: “My family and I cannot understand why the authorities have not managed to bring anyone to justice considering the evidence that they had.”
In 2013, a Crimewatch reconstruction revealed efits of the two main suspects sought and CCTV footage of them fleeing the scene.
Details of a £20,000 reward was also made for information leading to their conviction.
On the night an unmarked police car caught five men fleeing the scene at 3.35am, seconds after the shooting, on camera, but still no one has been charged.
Chris Carter, who was Recorder editor for 21 years, oversaw extensive coverage of the case.
He said: “We haven’t really had many cases like this before. This, I believe, has been the longest [that a case has remained unsolved].”
The Metropolitan Police said they were still investigating Christopher’s death. Det Ch Insp Andrew Packer commented: “This remains an unsolved murder and very much an ongoing investigation.
“We are still appealing for information and even two decades on from Christopher’s murder, someone could have valuable information to bring those responsible to justice.”
But Ms Fry added: “My mum hasn’t had any contact from the police for many, many months.”
Mrs Hastings continued: “All we are asking and all we have ever asked of people, is if they have any information no matter how insignificant they may feel it is please call the police make it anonymous that is all.”
Anyone with information is asked to call 0208 345 3865 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800555111.