A Stone Great Dane stands watch over the grave of Jacob Bornkamp… florist to the royals and an unwitting champion of gay rights.
Jacob, 52, was in the prime of his life when he was brutally slain in the street in 2000, just three years after his flowers adorned Westminster Abbey for the funeral of Princess Diana.
Flamboyant Jacob, also known as Jaap, had previously made bouquets for prime ministers and even a posy for the Queen.
His life was cut short in an unprovoked knife attack, which many believe was a homophobic murder. The unsolved killing proved to be a watershed moment for the rights of gay people.
For until Jacob’s death, partners in same-sex unions were not entitled to compensation for the loss of loved ones.
But that changed when Danny O’Neill, Jacob’s partner of 20 years, lobbied the Government to give gay couples equal rights.
Now Jacob’s family have told his story for the first time in recognition of the florist’s legacy – and in the hope new leads to his killing may yet emerge.
Danny, now 71, believes he was the first gay man to receive a payout from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority after the rules were changed.
He recalls being given information about CICA by the police – but same-sex partners were excluded.
“It really got to me, because it was so specific and it was there in black and white,” he says.
Danny, of South London, wrote to then PM Tony Blair asking him to revise the scheme. To his amazement, Mr Blair replied saying he would look at changing the law.
LGBT rights charity Stonewall was already campaigning, following the bombing of the Admiral Duncan pub in Soho, London, in 1999, where the husband of a pregnant woman killed was allowed to apply for compensation but partners of gay men who died weren’t.
Stonewall approached Danny and said they would like to use Jaap’s case as a further example of the hypocrisy. It worked and, in 2001, CICA rules were changed to allow LGBT partners to apply.
Danny offered a £20,000 reward to catch the killer at the time – and says it still stands if information offered leads to a conviction.
He adds: “Marriage wasn’t available to me and Jaap then, but I would definitely have gone for that.
“I knew that we would be together for life. It’s been a huge loss for me and I miss him awfully. I had a bad time when it happened, it was like a nightmare.”
Danny urges anyone with information to step forward, saying: “This person could still do the same thing to someone else.”
Jaap was 19 when he moved to London from his native Rotterdam. He worked for esteemed florist Pulbrook and Gould and clients included ex-PM Baroness Thatcher.
Jaap eventually set up his own business with Danny. They met in the 1980s, loved to host parties, enjoyed the cinema and trips to the West End – and doted on Great Danes Ben and Sam.
But all that ended cruelly. The night before he died, Jaap and pal Richard Coakley met for dinner, then went to a sauna in Deptford, South London.
Staying out later than planned, the pair were walking home along New Cross Road, close to Deptford Town Hall, at 7.15am on Sunday June 4, 2000. They saw two white, stocky men in their 20s walking the other way.
Richard told a 2001 inquest he felt Jaap’s arm jerk – then he collapsed. One of the men had thrust a knife into his chest. The weapon severed an artery to Jaap’s heart.
An elderly man stopped to help, but was not traced afterwards. Neither was a white vehicle that earlier slowed to let the two suspects cross the road. CCTV showed two potential witnesses, a cyclist and pedestrian.
The suspects were also on CCTV but although the images were sharpened by NASA scientists, a positive ID never materialised.
A 23-year-old from the Catford area and a 30-year-old were later arrested but never charged.
Police found the bloodied weapon – a knife with a spider design on the handle – dumped in a bin.
But it is unclear whether the Met has DNA from the weapon and, if so, when it was last checked against the crime database.
Jacob’s nephew Hilgert Bos, 46, from Eindhoven, visited him in London numerous times and still hopes justice will prevail.
He says: “I just hope someone will finally come forward.
“You can never really close the book on something like that. I really feel like his killer could surface after 20 years.
“What upsets me most is there was just no motive. Why would someone be on the streets with a knife like that?
“Jaap loved London. One of the reasons he moved to London was at that time it was the gay capital of the world – much more liberal and open than Dutch society was.
“Uncle Jaap liked ballet, the opera and musicals. I remember attending a musical in the West End with him and Danny and we’d go for food. They were fun times.
“When I visited, I usually went with a friend. The four of us would go for dinner, then watch a film on the sofa and have a chat and drinks.
“On weekend evenings, Jaap and Daniel would go clubbing and I would go with my friend to a club.
“Once we asked Jaap if we could join them at their party, but he joked, ‘It’s much too gay for you guys!’ He was extravagant.
“He once picked us up at the airport wearing snake leather boots, camo trousers and a big white fur coat. Jaap was not your regular florist.
“He used to do big weddings in the Middle East and I remember visiting once and there were 20 8ft palm trees in his workshop, made of stacked pineapples and banana leaves.
“Also a lot of the floral work for Princess Diana’s funeral service in the church was done by Jaap.”
Jaap’s grave is in a London cemetery and the Great Dane statue has drawn much attention – though the background to the case is largely unknown.
The murder was seen as a turning point for the police’s often strained relations with the gay community.
Billboards featuring the suspects were put up locally, 400 people were interviewed and detectives visited the Netherlands. Robbie de Santos, of Stonewall, says: “Jaap’s tragic murder was a senseless crime.
“We hope memories of Jaap’s death remind people of how severe the situation can be for LGBT+ people going about their lives.”
The Met Police said: “The murder will not be closed until those responsible are identified. The case was last reviewed in 2005 and is still open to periodic review.
“Any further information or evidence will be assessed and Jaap’s family will be made aware.”