Louise Jury, Chief Arts Correspondent
08 August 2012
The brother of a man killed in the London riots hopes a new film will help explain why young people took to the streets last summer.
Theo Gonzales, 23, a musician who has served a jail sentence for selling drugs, advised the makers of Offender on creating a vivid picture of life in the capital’s poorest estates and inside the youth justice system.
He said it particularly mattered to him that there was a greater understanding of the roots of last summer’s troubles.
His brother, Trevor Ellis, 26, a father of four, was shot in the head as he sat in a car in Croydon.
The revenge thriller, released in cinemas today, claims to be the first film specifically to address the London riots — which were recreated for the film in Petticoat Lane.
It stars Joe Cole, from Skins and The Hour, as a man whose girlfriend and unborn child are killed during an armed robbery in the riots.
Mr Gonzales said: “Lots of adults don’t understand why kids are doing these things. But I’m from an estate in Brixton Hill and I have lots of friends who were arrested in the riots.
“The movie shows that people don’t want to live this life. Not everyone has a gang mentality, they’re people who got caught up in it. Everyone can learn from looking at the world from a youth point of view. I hope everyone gets to see what really goes on.”
He said the Olympics had prompted lots of talk about ambition but it was difficult for people from backgrounds like his to share in that success.
“I used to play professional tennis but I was shot and stabbed and that took my mind completely off tennis. I’m trying to make my life positive and have my second album, Pay Attention 2, coming out. But in my area, it’s difficult to break the cycle of a child growing up and going to jail.”
His brother had a lot of faith in his musical career, said Mr Gonzales. “When he died, I lost all hope of doing anything with my music. But advising people on the film helped me get back into the swing of things.”
Today the family intend to visit the spot in Croydon where Mr Ellis was shot and will visit his grave tomorrow, the anniversary of his death.
The Met said there had been arrests in connection with the shooting but no charges and is offering a £20,000 reward for information.