Murder #5, Kartik Patel, Plumstead
Student Kartik Patel, 23, was fatally attacked as he slept at his home in Plumstead, south London, on the morning of January 7, 2011. He died in hospital of severe head injuries two days later.Detectives charged his housemate Maulin Patel, 28, with the murder. Maulin Patel was convicted of murder of August 4, 2011.
I arrived at Bannockburn Street in Plumstead 2 weeks after Kartik Patel had been murdered. My notes dont tell me why I had waited so long to arrive at the murder site. Bannockburn street descends from Plumstead High Street northwards and you can see the Industrial horizon that lines the Thames. I walked up and down the street unable to find the house where Patel had died. Normally there are clues that tell you which house it is even weeks after the murder happened. Remnants of police tape, the premises still boarded up, flowers or something that tells you this is the place. But nothing told me what I was looking for so I began asking people and soon I found the house. It was two doors down from a Hindu temple frequented by Plumstead’s Nepalese community. As I began to make my photographs 3 Nepalese men came up to me asked why I was photographing the house and the street. After explaining myself and convinced that I made no sense to them they told me they were thinking of renting the same house the murder took place in. They told me they had not been in Britain long and I shared with them that I was an immigrant as well. They seemed to want to ask me something and so I prodded them to ask. “Do you think the house has evil spirits?” “Do you think its wise to live in a house where evil things have happened?” I had noticed that the house seemed newly painted dark brown and tidied up. No trace that a murder had occurred. I guess its not fair to think that an estate agent would advertise that the previous occupant had been murdered. Not wishing to sound dismissive of their beliefs I gently said I did not believe in evil spirits and I was sure that the house would be fine to live in.
In all honesty I am not sure I could live in a house where a murder had recently taken place and wondered if on some unconscious level I maybe did believe in evil spirits or at least in some kind of bad karma. The 3 young men conferred and said they would pass on the house. They thanked me and left me to my photographs. The street was quiet in the cold grey January afternoon. Peaceful in fact.