Tommy Blackmore’s family have called for a change to the justice system after the Bermondsey boy’s killer was sentenced to five-and-a-half years in jail – of which he will serve just half.
Lloyd Smythe, of Tabard Gardens Estate, Borough, pleaded guilty to manslaughter on September 30, weeks before he was scheduled to appear in court. He was sentenced two days later.
Tommy’s older brother Bradley paid tribute to a “cheeky chap who always had time for everyone”, but suggested such tariffs were an insult to grieving families.
He told the News: “The police, the judge, the CPS – everyone did everything they could. The only thing we as a family are disappointed in is the justice system’s guidelines.
“The sentencing guidelines in place don’t do enough for different situations. How can someone who was responsible for an unprovoked attack be treated the same as someone who just happened to deliver a fatal blow during a brawl?
“People also can get more lenient sentences for pleading guilty, even when the odds were against them and they would have no chance of getting away. Obviously what’s happened with Tommy is done now but this is going to keep happening to other families. Something needs to change.”
He described his 20-year-old brother, eleven years his junior, as his “best mate.”
Bradley said: “I was the baby of the family and then he came along! But even when he was young we were all so close. Whenever any of us were buying clothes or something we’d check with each other that it looked good.”
The family nicknamed him “Tommy Three Baths” due to his love of a good soak, during which he would call up his many friends on the phone.
“We only found out after he passed that he used to ‘Facetime’ everyone while in the bath. He loved a good chat and he would give everyone the time of day. If he walked to the shops he would take 40 minutes because he would just stop and talk to everyone.
“There is a Turkish man on our road who came up to us and said that even when he first arrived and couldn’t speak any English, Tommy would always stop and talk to him and make him welcome.”
Tommy was blessed with good looks and an easy charm to match, something his brother talked about admiringly – and with just a smidge of jealousy.
“He was the type of person who would walk into a club and immediately be the centre of attention. He had those long eyelashes, big green eyes and perfect eyebrows, and he was mad into his fitness, so was always at the gym.
“Even as a young kid the girls just loved him. He was cheeky and had good banter – and he knew that he was carrying good looks!”
Tommy, who worked on the tube tracks with Bradley and their eldest brother Micky, was also a proud and protective uncle to his five nephews and nieces.
“He was always the favourite uncle – they were only ever allowed to jump on his bed! They were his pick-me-up. If he was ever in a bad mood or sad he would play with them and they’d cheer him up.”
He was also incredibly protective of his mother Maureen, who was diagnosed with a degenerative disease 20 years ago. Tommy was, in her words, an “angel” who inspired her to keep fighting.
Whenever he stayed out late he would leave something of his on her bed so that, when she woke up, she would know he had got home safe. The family say that he “kept her going, kept her smiling.”
Other than family and friends, Tommy’s two big passions were his Xbox and football.
Bradley said: “He was reem at Xbox. Between the ages of about eleven and fifteen he was always in his room playing Call of Duty. He was so good – although it wasn’t much fun playing against him! You were in luck if you were on his team though.”
His football career was equally successful, with Tommy representing a number of teams in the area including the Docklands Settlement team and the supporters’ team of his beloved Millwall FC.
His family still laugh about the time, at around five or six years old, that he penned a long letter to the News, urging the Millwall manager to sign up World Cup-winning Brazilian striker Ronaldo.
Bradley said: “We hung up that letter for years on the fridge, but we teased him so much about it that he took it down and hid it! We don’t know where it is now.”
Ex-Millwall player Mark Beard was one of the many members of the Lions family to pay tribute to Tommy after his death.
He said: “He was a lovely lad, funny, bubbly, confident and loyal. His death came as a massive shock and I still can’t believe that he has gone. They do say the good die young and in Tommy’s case this is definitely true.”
On the pitch, Tommy was equally successful, with the three Blackmore brothers taking great joy in lining up alongside each other.
“He began playing football with adults when he was eight! Micky would go off for the last fifteen minutes and Tommy would come on and just get stuck in.
“He wasn’t the biggest kid, but he had the biggest heart. He was always breaking his leg or his arm. He just wasn’t scared and was always diving in.”
Bradley does remember an incident when Tommy wasn’t quite as brave.
He said: “I had to go to the hospital as I’d broken my nose and needed to get it reset. The consultant was explaining how it would work and Tommy fainted, he was just gone! He came round and they put him in an oxygen mask, it was so funny.”
Four months after Tommy’s death, the outpouring of grief in Bermondsey has not stopped, as evident by the continued activity on his online memorial page and the various fundraising events held in his name.
Bradley hopes that charity will be a way that Tommy’s “legacy” can continue.
He said: “We’ve already raised £12,500 for a charity fund in his name. Tommy cared so much about charity, this is a way his name can live on – to have a legacy. We’re going to find good causes in the area and help them out.
“He always said ‘It’s better to be someone for a day, then no-one for a lifetime.’ Everyone will always remember him. He’s a legend.”