Tony McGrane: murdered 30 years ago

The Islington Tribune today remembers the anniversary of the murder of Tony McGrane. Original media coverage is available on:



Fresh call for investigation into the killing of little Tony 30 years ago

Tony McGrane was found with 31 stab wounds in October 1986

Tony McGrane was found with 31 stab wounds in October 1986

Published: 4 November, 2016

THIRTY years ago a 13-year-old described as a quiet boy who loved playing on his bike was found stabbed to death at a garage in Finsbury.

“Happy-go-lucky” Tony McGrane was found with 31 stab wounds in October 1986. Police said that he had “put up an extremely brave fight”. A family friend was subsequently jailed for six years for manslaughter.


But questions remain to this day about Tony’s attendance at a now-notorious Islington children’s home, the Conewood Street Assessment Centre.

The centre in Highbury was linked to two other murders in the 1980s, including that of Jason Swift, a 14-year-old who was raped and murdered in Hackney by a group of men including notorious child sex abuser Sidney Cooke.

In 1990, two 15-year-old boys were accused of raping a 13-year-old girl with the “apparent acquiescence of staff” at the centre. A jury found them not guilty of rape, but guilty of intercourse with a girl under the age of 16. An investigation by Islington Council found no wrongdoing by staff.

A worker from Conewood was arrested after abducting a boy from the home in 1983 and taking him to France for three weeks.

Liz Davies, a reader in child protection at London Metropolitan University who helped expose Islington’s child sex abuse scandal in the early 1990s, said this week:

Looking into these three cases I have questioned why there had never been a proper investigation of this specific children’s home during this period – though I tried to achieve this many times.”

Islington Council has said it supports victims of abuse coming forward and reporting their experiences to police.

Dr Davies, who has launched Islington Survivors Network to get justice for survivors of the abuse scandal, has called on anyone who knew Tony or anything to do with the circumstances of his death to get in touch.

“It is very important that anniversaries are remembered,” she said. “These children must never be forgotten.

“We are now in positive conversation with Islington Council to examine together what is known about the abuse of children from past records, and from current survivor and witness accounts. The 80s and 90s do not seem a long time ago to the survivors and families, especially when so much about what happened still remains unresolved.”

Dr Davies feels “very worried” about the man­slaughter conviction. She points out that police in the 1980s were linking Tony’s death to 16 boys murdered, sexually assaulted and abducted in east London and Essex by a paedophile ring. She said: “I have often thought, in all these long years, what sense his family have made of what happened to their child.”

Tony’s father lives close to Exmouth Market, but did not want to comment when approached by the Tribune this week.

Dr Davies can be contacted at

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