Carlton McDonald was a man almost impossible to dislike. Friendly, hard-working, devoted to his close-knit family, generous to his friends – to whom he was known as Crucial or The Kid – and passionate about playing football for local side Accra FC, he was a 21-year-old with a bright future ahead of him.

That is until a crazed and armed mob of youths brutally stabbed him to death in Camberwell two years ago.

The murder, which shocked both the Brixton Hill community, where Carlton lived with his mother Valerie Chisholm, and customers and colleagues at the West Indian bakery in Tooting where he had worked since he left school, remains unsolved to this day.

His family remain devastated that no one has been called to justice and as they gathered at Carlton’s graveside last month to mark what would have been his 23rd birthday, his mother spoke of her and her other son and daughter’s grief.

“Now I am very, very lonely. I miss him so much in so many ways, as do all his family”, she says simply.

“There is not an hour of the day when I don’t think about my baby. Every day I cry for him. He was such a loving, such a quiet boy – a real mummy’s boy.

“I want the people who did this to be caught and justice given.” Established gang loyalties and a suspicion of the Specialist Crime Directorate detectives investigating the murder mean even now the facts surrounding the night of August 26, 2001, remain sketchy.

The police know a gang of up to 15 black youths, aged between 15 and 18 and armed with baseball bats, knives, hammers and broken bottles, had been causing chaos in the Camberwell New Road and Warner Road from midnight that night.

Four teenagers, one as young as 14 were left needing hospital treatment, as the group, possibly high on drugs, carried out a string of robberies, assaults and threats among innocent passersby and locals.

Carlton had been at a wedding reception in the nearby St Mary’s Community Hall, but had returned home to go to bed when he was woken by an acquaintance phoning to say he had been attacked and robbed.

Carlton went left to meet him in Warner Road.

He never made it home – dying an hour later in King’s College Hospital from a single stab wound.

Despite three youths being arrested in the days following the murder and two kitchen knives being found in the area, no charges have ever been brought and the murder weapon has never been traced.

Police admit they are surprised that crucial witnesses still have not come forward even two years after the murder because of the number of youths involved who may have told family and friends what happened.

As Detective Inspector Chris Burgess, who heads the investigation, said: “Only one youth delivered the fatal stab and we will bring him to justice.

“Others who were there that night can help us to do that.” Until people come to the police, the investigation has reached an impasse.

His colleagues at the Mixed Blessings Bakery in Mitcham Road deny Carlton was involved in either gangs or drugs.

Winston Berry says: “He didn’t have time for that. He was here for years and didn’t take a day off work. When he wasn’t working he was playing football.

“He was not a street boy. He lived at home.

“It is just a tragedy.” A photograph of Carlton remains on display in the front of the shop, where the younger members of staff regarded him as a mentor, not just because of his skill with the pastry machine but for his easy demeanour and love of music and song.

“I’m shocked that no one has been charged with his murder,” says Mr Berry “When people come in and ask about the photograph, it’s bad having to say the police are still investigating.

“I’m disappointed the police didn’t come down and talk to us at the time. We want to know what they are doing about it.

“It is still so sad because of the way he died.” Though moves to mark Carlton’s life with the Crucial Urban Education Football Academy for talented 16 to 18-year-old players foundered, the Peckham-based Youth Diversity Challenge (YDC) launched in his memory has gone from strength to strength, creating an educational support programme for young south Londoners.

For his family and friends, however, the more lasting memorial now would be to bring his killer to justice.

q Anyone with information about Carlton McDonald’s murder should call the Shooters Hill incident room 020 8284 9765 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.