A British schoolgirl was brutally stabbed to death on a paradise island – after her parents moved her there to escape knife crime.
Stefika Smith was just two weeks short of her 18th birthday when she was found dumped on a track beside a sugar cane field in rural Jamaica, the birthplace of both her parents.
Her mother and father had taken her to live in the Caribbean from their home in crime-ridden South London because they had “idyllic” memories of growing up in safety half a century ago.
Now both are racked by guilt over the decision which cost the vibrant teenager her life in a place where she was meant to be shielded from harm.
And they feel they have been left trapped in Jamaica fighting to bring their daughter’s killer to justice after four months without any charges.
Pauline, 54, told the Sunday People: “I’ve lost an angel. There was a lot of knife crime in London and I wanted to take Stefika away from those dangers.
“We wanted her to have the same idyllic life my husband and I had growing up in Jamaica. But wicked people put an end to that.
“My beautiful sweet daughter left what we saw as a knife threat but became a stabbing victim herself where we took her to be safer. I still cannot take it in.”
Stefika grew up in a £750,000 six-bedroom detached house in Thornton Heath, South London, where grime star and anti-knife crime campaigner Stormzy spent his childhood.
She was a star pupil at Norbury Manor Business Enterprise College for Girls and sang in the gospel choir of the New Testament Church of God in Brixton.
But she lived in constant awareness of the soaring knife violence in South London and the rest of the capital.
In the summer of 2016 parents Pauline and Morris, 56, a plasterer, traded their UK home for a new life in rural May Pen, in Jamaica’s south.
It lies 35 miles from the island’s capital Kingston, where the murder rate is among the highest in the world. Despite crime and violence in the island’s built-up areas, the family believed that in the depths of its countryside they would be safe.
Another factor in their decision to leave Britain had been the suicide of one of Stefika’s close pals. The tragedy affected her so profoundly that a social worker advised her to make a fresh start.
Pauline, who lived in Jamaica until she was 23, said: “Stefika was always concerned about her safety in London when she went out because of the stabbings and gangs.
She was never involved in anything like that but the dangers that were out there were a constant worry for her.
“She didn’t like to be on the streets. It stopped her meeting friends or joining groups.
“By contrast, growing up in Jamaica in the 1960s was an ideal world. We could do anything totally safely.
“There was no sense of danger. We could be outside all the time, swimming in rivers of playing in each other’s yards. “It really was a paradise, and with beautiful weather .
We wanted that for Stefika. We wanted to take her away from the threat of being stabbed to a world we remembered as beautiful.
“When we all stepped off the plane in Jamaica we felt this was a wonderful new beginning.
Stefika was so excited she said, ‘Mummy I’m going to love it here.’
She settled in quickly. She loved the sense of freedom.”
Stefika – who had attended primary school in Brixton with her brother Lamar, now aged 20 and living in the US – quickly adapted to her studies on the island.
She enrolled at the private May Pen High School and the family hoped she might return to Britain to go to uni.
But soon after the family arrived, violence in Clarendon, the island parish of which May Pen is the largest town, steadily escalated.
The district has now declared a state of emergency because the homicide rate has hit 100 so far this year, with many of the murder victims children and teenagers.
Pauline said: “When we came back to Jamaica with Stefika it still felt very safe.
But things have deteriorated. In 2016 there was none of this thinking about killing, kidnapping, raping which there is now.”
Stefika vanished on May 10 after her family dropped her off at a student friend’s house for a sleepover.
Her frantic family reported her missing to police and organised a desperate search involving dozens of neighbours. Her half-brother Dwayne, 39, who still lives in the UK, even tried to track her mobile phone.
But Stefika’s body was found two days later, with her one-piece yellow bodysuit ripped at the front and signs she had put up a desperate battle for life.
She had suffered a single stab wound to the throat.
Her family’s trauma was made even worse when a mobile phone picture of Stefika’s body was posted on social media before they even knew that she was dead.
They were only told of their daughter’s death when a relative in Canada phoned and asked: “Have you seen Facebook ?”
A man and woman were arrested shortly afterwards but quickly released.
There have been no further arrests.
Now the desperate Smiths are calling on UK authorities to help put pressure on Jamaican police to get results.
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