Daughter of Islington flower seller tells of heartbreak over his ‘pointless’ murder as killer convicted

Tony Eastlake was knifed to death close to his stall in north London  ((Metropolitan Police/PA))
Tony Eastlake was knifed to death close to his stall in north London ((Metropolitan Police/PA))

The daughter of a popular flower seller in Islington has told how his “pointless” murder has devastated a whole community as his killer was convicted.

Tony Eastlake, 55, was stabbed in Islington in May 2021 by his late girlfriend’s son James Peppiatt, who blamed him for his mother’s suicide.

Following an Old Bailey trial twice delayed by the Covid pandemic and barristers’ strike, Peppiatt, 23, was found guilty of murder on Tuesday.

The jury deliberated for 13 hours.

Following the verdict the victim’s daughter Paige Eastlake said that “justice has been served”.

She told PA: “This is pointless. No-one needs to be here. There’s too many lives ruined for one silly thing that happened that didn’t need to happen.”

Ms Eastlake described her father as the “funniest, kind, generous person that I’ve ever met”.

“To me, he was the best and he was just one of a kind. He was my dad and my best friend.

“He’d been working on that same stall since he was 14 and he was 55 when he died – so a long time.

“He died on the street of Essex Road where he lived. I don’t know if that’s fate – you died where you worked every single day of your life.”

Ms Eastlake, 28, took comfort from the fact that members of the public had rushed to help her father as he lay mortally injured after being attacked by Peppiatt.

She said: “Listening to what the pathologist and the paramedics had said, within maybe 10 to 12 seconds he would have been unconscious, and I know he didn’t die on his own.”

Ms Eastlake said she was shocked at the outpouring of grief in the community to the person many knew only as “Flower Man of Essex Street”.

On a vigil organised a couple of days after his death, she said: “It makes me more honoured to call him my dad. There was young people, older people, the drunks in park…”

Ms Eastlake said she was particularly struck by the reaction of one bus driver, who stopped by the stall to find out what had happened despite carrying a full load of passengers.

She added: “I would just like to thank the Islington community for all of the support that they have shown me and my family. For the floral tributes, the hundreds of people who were at his funeral and the constant lines of support. I couldn’t be prouder of my dad for the lasting legacy he’s left as the Flower Man of Essex Road.”

On Peppiatt, she said: “My dad wasn’t an angry or horrible person. He would laugh about it. So I think I’m not going to live my life hating someone, he’s ruined enough of it. I’m not going to let him ruin any more.”

Paige Eastlake at a vigil held for her father (PA)
Paige Eastlake at a vigil held for her father (PA)

Detective Chief Inspector Geoff Grogan, who led the investigation, said: “Tony was a well-known character in the community. The people that came to his aid, the passers-by and the outpouring of grief just goes to show how huge an impact this incident had.

“We might never know quite why James Peppiatt took the view that Tony Eastlake was to blame for his mother’s passing, but no matter what he felt to Tony, we can’t accept that level of violence in any instance.”

Peppiatt handed himself in to police a few days after Mr Eastlake’s death and investigators built a case against him from CCTV footage and eyewitnesses.

Mr Grogan praised the Eastlake family’s composure in the face of the trial delays, adding: “I can only hope that now they can move forward having got the justice for the unnecessary loss of Tony.”

“Nobody needed to be here. This whole incident was avoidable. It could have been stopped at any given moment, somebody could have chosen to walk the other way. Instead, James Peppiatt chose to walk after Tony Eastlake.

“A moment of gratuitous, unnecessary violence has led to the taking of a community member, a family member, somebody who was larger than life.”

Following the guilty verdict at the Old Bailey on Tuesday, Judge Richard Marks KC adjourned sentencing until August 24.