Jaden Moodie: 'Missed opportunity' to protect murdered teenager from county lines exploitation

Jaden Moodie was 14 when he was rammed off a stolen moped and stabbed to death in Leyton, east London, in January 2019 in a suspected drug war slaying - PA

Britain's youngest gang victim was found "clearly being criminally exploited" in a county lines drug den three months before his murder, but police and care services missed an opportunity to intervene, a review has found. 

Jaden Moodie was 14 when he was rammed off a stolen moped and stabbed to death in Leyton, east London, in January 2019 in a suspected drug war slaying

He was the youngest victim in a series of gangland killings that took place last year. 

A serious case review has now concluded that the teenager, who lived in Waltham Forest, east London, was being exploited by a county lines drug trafficking network and authorities missed a “pivotal moment” to save him from organised crime.

A 77-page report, published by the Waltham Forest Safeguarding Children Board, described how Jaden, named only as Child C, was found in a so-called “cuckoo house” in Bournemouth in October 2018.

A cuckoo house is a property - typically occupied by a vulnerable individual - which drug dealers seize to use as a base for their county lines operations. 

Dorset Police had found Jaden and another boy from Waltham Forest, aged 17, in a flat where there was “significant evidence” of crack cocaine dealing. 

It was the third time in the space of a month the flat had been raided - with officers each time finding children from the London area inside.

However, in the period that followed Jaden’s arrest and eventual return to London, both police and care authorities failed to make the most of an opportunity to protect the teenager. 

The report said the “response” while he was detained and “then on his return” from Bournemouth “did not capitalise on a ‘reachable’ moment for a child who was clearly being criminally exploited, and nor was all the information available from the authorities in Bournemouth transferred to their counterparts in Waltham Forest”. 

FAQ | County lines

Information about two earlier gun-related incidents involving Jaden when he lived in the East Midlands were also not shared by Nottinghamshire Police. 

The review said: “This was a pivotal moment in providing support to Child C. For the first time the authorities in Waltham Forest had been presented with completely unequivocal evidence that Child C was being criminally exploited.

“This would have been even more clear to them if they had known about the gun incident in Nottinghamshire ten months earlier, if they had known of the two earlier references to Child C and guns, and if they had known about the threats made against Child C in Nottinghamshire in the summer of 2018.

“There were several aspects of this episode in Bournemouth that were strongly suggestive that Child C had been supplied with drugs by an Organised Crime Group and was working to their instructions.” 

An appropriate adult appointed by Bournemouth Borough Council to assist Jaden during his police interview told the serious case review that his memory of the teenager “was of him appearing as a vulnerable young person frightened by what he was being groomed and coerced into by others, including the co-defendant”. 

“He gave me the impression that he definitely wanted to find a way out of the mess he was getting into,” the care worker continued. 

Jaden was driven back to London by two Dorset Police officers instead of by specialist child exploitation workers, as a so-called 'rescue and response' service available to Waltham Forest Council was not yet fully operational as far away as Bournemouth.

The review said: “The arrangements for responding to Child C and eventually returning him to London in particular represent a missed opportunity.”

It continued: “Very little information was forwarded to Waltham Forest Children’s Social Care about any aspect of this episode. 

“In particular at this stage there was no agreed system for assessing the circumstances around a detained child and then transmitting this information on to the child’s home area.”

Jaden’s school was not notified about the incident. 

The review ultimately concluded that there was “no evidence” that the teenager’s murder “could have been predicted” and it was “difficult to say” whether different responses by the authorities could have reduced the risk he faced on the day of his death. 

This was “because of the continuing uncertainty about why he was attacked that day”, the report said, adding: “It is, however, the case that considerable resources were being mobilised for continuing work with Child C and his family in the two months prior to his death, the aim being to reduce his vulnerability to criminal exploitation.”

Ayoub Majdouline, then 19, was convicted and jailed for the murder of Jaden in December 2019.