Asylum seeker who lied he was 14 to get into the UK guilty of murder

‘Knife-obsessed’ Afghan asylum seeker, 21, who said he was 14 to get into the UK before murdering aspiring Royal Marine is a double killer who gunned down two people in Serbia and was convicted of drug dealing in Italy

  • Lawangeen Abdulrahimzai, 21, fatally stabbed Thomas Roberts to death
  • Post conviction truth that he had also killed two other people in Serbia came out 
  • The violence erupted outside Subway in Bournemouth on March 12, 2021 

An asylum seeker convicted today of murdering an aspiring marine has been unmasked as the killer of two other people in Serbia – who then tricked his way into the UK by pretending he was 14-year-old schoolboy.

Lawangeen Abdulrahimzai, 21, hoodwinked Border Force and the Home Office in allowing him into the country before going on to murder Thomas Roberts, 21, in Bournemouth.

But Salisbury Crown Court was stunned into silence today as the jury found him guilty of killing Mr Roberts – and the killer’s full life of crime was made public.

Abdulrahimzai had already been sentenced to a 20-year prison sentence in his absence following a trial over the killing in Serbia.

Murder-accused asylum seeker Lawangeen Abdulrahimzai, 21, broke down in tears and claimed his parents were killed by the Taliban and detailed the alleged torture he endured

The Afghan national was charged with the murder of aspiring Royal Marine Thomas Roberts (above), 21, outside a Subway sandwich shop in Bournemouth on March 12 last year, having allegedly stabbed him twice in the chest with a ’10cm blade’ 

Two people had been shot dead outside a refugee area by a petrol station and he was identified by witnesses as the killer.

He had also been convicted of drug-dealing in Italy and given a non-custodial sentence after pleading guilty.

But Abdulrahimzai, who was born in Afghanistan, was allowed into the UK after telling authorities he was a 14-year-old schoolboy whose parents had been killed by the Taliban.

He had deceived the authorities so compreshensively he was placed with foster mother Nicola Marchant-Jones.

Abdulrahimzai (centre with black hood) was caught on camera headbutting a reveller on a night just minutes before he allegedly murders an aspiring Royal Marine in a row over an e-scooter

Double-killer who tricked his way into UK 

Lawangeen Abdulrahimzai was sentenced to a 20-year prison sentence in his absence following a trial over the killing in Serbia, a preliminary hearing for the UK court case heard.

And he had also been convicted of drug-dealing in Italy and given a non-custodial sentence after pleading guilty, the court heard.

Prosecutor Ellie Fargin told Salisbury Crown Court: ‘Two people were shot dead outside a refugee area by a petrol station.

‘Evidence seems to come from a taxi driver who drove people to the scene and they see a photograph and they point the defendant out as the person they drove.

‘And there was evidence from someone, who in this country would be considered a co-defendant, also was given at the trial.’

The court heard the Serbian authorities were seeking his extradition but the UK courts were unlikely to deport him without an automatic right to appeal as he was convicted in his absence.

She described him as a ‘shy’, ‘bright lad’ who suffered ‘night terrors’ but grew to have a ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ personality towards the end of their time together.

But then the killer – nicknamed Lo by Ms Marchant-Jones – was caught with a knife but was only given advice by Bournemouth police.

He began spiralling out of control and would be paid £100 for 10 minutes of street fighting.

When he nearly headbutted Ms Marchant-Jones during an argument he was moved from her care.

Then on March 12 last year, he killed his third victim, stabbing Mr Roberts twice in the chest with a ’10cm blade’ after an argument with his friend about an e-scooter outside a Subway sandwich shop.

Months earlier the killer had shared pictures of himself posing with a blade on TikTok – despite being warned by his foster parent, police and social workers not to.

He had admitted manslaughter at an earlier hearing, but had denied murder and forced a trial. The jury did not believe him.

When asked by prosecutor Nic Lobbenberg KC, why he carried the knife, he said: ‘I was fearing for my life, there were people from home who wanted to kill me and people in Bournemouth had threatened to stab me to death.’

Giving evidence in court, Abdulrahimzai had sobbed as he described the abuse he claimed he endured at the hands of the Taliban and how the insurgents killed his parents after ‘bombing’ his home.

Abdulrahimzai he arrived in the UK in December 2019 and initially told the authorities he was 16 when he was arrested, but the court has since determined that he is now 21. 

CCTV footage released yesterday showed the moment Abdulrahimzai (circled in white) flees on foot while being chased by Mr Medway (circled in yellow)

Taking to the dock as part of his defence today, self-professed orphan Abdulrahimzai claimed he was one of the thousands of victims of the horrors of the Taliban.

The militant group seized control of Afghanistan in the summer of 2021 after the last remnants of Allied forces withdrew from the country after two decades.

Recalling his own experience, Abdulrahimzai told the court: ‘I have seen some explosions not very far away. There was an American base not far from where we lived and the Taliban would come and demand things and there would be fighting and gunshots. 

‘They used heavy weapons like rocket launchers. They planted bombs around my house, I was at my uncle’s house at the time, when I came home my parents were dead. I saw their body parts and a lot of blood.’

A police cordon outside Subway on Old Christchurch Road in Bournemouth

A police cordon around Horseshoe Common in Bournemouth following the fatal stabbing

After briefly breaking down in tears, Abdulrahimzai said he was then captured and tortured by the Taliban for up to three weeks before being dumped and left for dead on the side of a road.

The jury was shown photographs of scarring all over his body which he says was caused by the torture, during which he was beaten with the butts of rifles and injured with knives.

Abdulrahimzai told the court how he had been hanging around a nightclub in Poole having drunk vodka and missed his bus when he encountered Mr Roberts and Mr Medway. 

Opening the case last week, prosecutor Nic Lobbenberg KC told jurors it was a ‘fatal encounter all about a scooter which has cost this boy his life’.

He added: ‘Thomas was the peacemaker, he came between the two men. For his troubles, he received two stab wounds.’

Abdulrahimzai later ‘buried’ the knife, and burnt some of the clothes he was wearing, the court was told.

‘I’m sorry from the bottom of my heart, I wish I could change it,’ he added.

Armed police are pictured arresting the Afghan national, who is accused of murder 

The arrest, captured on police bodycam, took place just hours after the killing of Mr Roberts

A court heard Mr Roberts, a DJ, was enjoying a night out with his friend James Medway, 24, when he got into an argument with Abdulrahimzai over an e-scooter outside a Subway sandwich store. 

Jurors were told that, moments after intervening in the disagreement, Mr Roberts, 21, sustained two stab wounds to his chest from an ‘aggressive’ Abdulrahimzai – with one slicing through his heart.

Firearms officers wearing balaclavas and full tactical gear swooped in on the asylum seeker’s flat 24 hours after the incident and arrested him.

In the video a police officer can be heard reading him his legal rights as Abdulrahimzai is detained in the hallway of his block of flats in Poole, Dorset, following the raid which took place just after midnight on March 13, nearly 24 hours after the incident.

Abdulrahimzai can be seen roaming around the streets of Bournemouth in other images in the early hours of March 12 last year before he allegedly murdered Mr Roberts.

Details about Abdulrahimzai’s perilous journey to safety through Europe were also revealed in court today.

A chilling Snapchat video allegedly shows murder accused Lawangeen Abdulrahimzai in a street fight with another man, raining down blows before later posting a Snapchat message boasting: ‘we are Afghan we keep it real’ (right)

He first headed to Serbia through Pakistan and Iran in October 2015, before arriving in Norway later that month with a friend he considered to be like an adopted brother.

Abdulrahimzai then left Norway and spent some time in Italy and Serbia. He applied for asylum in Norway, but when his application was refused in December 2019, he left out of fear of being deported back to Afghanistan.

In November 2020, Abdulrahimzai was involved in an incident in King’s Park, Bournemouth, where he was ‘beaten up,’ persuading him to start carrying a knife, the jury was told.

When asked by prosecution solicitor Nic Lobbenberg KC, at Salisbury Crown Court, why he carried a knife, he said: ‘I was fearing for my life, there were people from home who wanted to kill me and people in Bournemouth had threatened to stab me to death.

‘I was given it by my friend for my safety. It’s a five-inch blade and I think I’ve seen other people with 22-inch knives.

‘My intention wasn’t for everyone to see it, it was taken by friends. I put it on TikTok to get some followers. There’s just people out there liking knives.’

In violent footage released to the court last week, Abdulrahimzai can be seen viciously pummeling another man during a street brawl before boasting: ‘We are Afghan, we keep it real’.

In the footage shown to jurors, he can be seen pinning his helpless opponent to the floor as he rains down blows, punching the cowering male in the head nine times.

At the end of the video, Abdulrahimzai films himself with the caption ‘we are Afghan we keep it real… I’m 100% sure you wouldn’t forget your lessons for the rest of your life.’

Abdulrahimzai, who was born in Afghanistan, arrived in the UK that same month and initially told the authorities he was 16 when he was arrested. The court has since determined that he is now 21. 

He has clamed it was normal for people in Afghanistan to not know their dates of birth due to a lack of education, and his uncle had told him the incorrect date.

Salisbury Crown Court heard on the night of the stabbing, Abdulrahimzai wore a hooded coat, a balaclava partially covering his face, and an Afghan flag around his neck.

Mr Roberts acted as ‘peacemaker’ and tried to break up the argument at around 4.40am on March 12 when Abdulrahimzai pulled a 10cm blade and stabbed him twice in the chest, it was heard.

Mr Roberts managed to stay on his feet for a few seconds as Mr Medway chased after Abdulrahimzai, but collapsed to the ground seconds later as he ‘bled profusely’ and then died in hospital.

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