Man found guilty of murder of Dorset 21


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Oct 06, 2023

Man found guilty of murder of Dorset 21

Lawangeen Abdulrahimzai, who killed Thomas Roberts, was previously convicted of

Lawangeen Abdulrahimzai, who killed Thomas Roberts, was previously convicted of murder in Serbia

A man from Afghanistan previously convicted of murder in Serbia has been found guilty of killing a young man in Dorset in a row over an e-scooter.

Lawangeen Abdulrahimzai was convicted on Monday of the murder of 21-year-old Thomas Roberts outside a Subway sandwich shop in Bournemouth in March last year.

Abdulrahimzai, 21, had admitted manslaughter, but the jury at Salisbury crown court took 12 hours to find him guilty of murder with a majority verdict.

After delivering their verdict, the jury heard that Abdulrahimzai had previously been convicted of murder after a trial in Serbia and sentenced to 20 years in prison in his absence.

Roberts's family described his death as "violent and unnecessary" and issued an appeal not to carry knives.

In a statement, they said: "The family of Thomas Roberts cannot describe the loss of their son, brother, partner, friend in the tragic circumstances of his violent and unnecessary death. He had a potentially fulfilling future to look forward to, whether that be in his profession of precision engineer or his potential in the military.

"Thomas was a normal, kind person, who had enjoyed life. On the night of his tragic death, he was in town with friends having a good time when he was suddenly involved in an incident involving a large knife that cost him his life.

"The family would like this to be a warning to everyone not to carry knives so other families do not suffer in the way we as a family are suffering now."

The court heard that Roberts was acting as the "peacemaker" in the early hours of 12 March 2022 after his friend James Medway got into an argument with Abdulrahimzai.

Medway wanted to take an e-scooter that Abdulrahimzai had claimed and left propped against the window of the shop in Old Christchurch Road.

During the confrontation, which lasted only 24 seconds, Roberts slapped Abdulrahimzai in the face. Abdulrahimzai then revealed the knife he had hidden between the two pairs of trousers he was wearing, and he stabbed Roberts twice before running away into nearby woodland.

He told the court that he carried a knife because he feared for his life, because there were people from Afghanistan who wanted to kill him, and he had also had death threats in Bournemouth.

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Abdulrahimzai, who lived in Poole at the time of the offence, claimed asylum in the UK in December 2019, and told the authorities he was 16 when he was arrested, but the court has since determined that he is now 21.

In his defence, he said he had no intention to kill or cause really serious harm to Roberts. He said he "acted instinctively" and he had "feared for his life".

The court heard that his parents had been killed and he had been tortured by the Taliban, so he carried a knife for his own protection.

The police said they had not been aware of Abdulrahimzai's previous convictions before his arrest for Roberts's murder.

Abdulrahimzai will be sentenced at Salisbury crown court on Wednesday.

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