Knife-wielding teen found guilty of ‘tragic and senseless’ killing of Richmond College student

By The Editor

25th Jan 2023 | Local News

A 17-year-old has been found guilty of manslaughter by an Old Bailey jury over the 'senseless' stabbing of a Richmond College student.

The killer carried out the attack on playing fields in Twickenham just hours after he had appeared in a magistrates court for an earlier offence of carrying a knife.

The victim, Hazrat Wali, aged 18, who was a refugee from Afghanistan, died after suffering a 10cm deep wound in the attack on October 12, 2021.

The aftermath of the attack was witnessed by pupils from Richmond School and Hampton School, who were playing a rugby match nearby.

Teachers raced to help administer first aid to Hazrat, however he died for his wounds in hospital.

After the case, Detective Inspector Matt Denby said: "Tragically, another young life has been cut short by people who carry knives.

"This was a completely senseless killing. Incidents such as this highlight why tackling knife crime is a priority for the Met, and why we are working tirelessly alongside our partners to bring those who carry knives on our streets to justice.

"It is my sincere hope that Hazrat's loved ones find a measure of comfort in this conviction. My thoughts are with them and the community who have supported the family throughout."

The defendant, who was 16 at the time of the attack, admitted wielding a knife but denied he intended to cause Hazrat serious harm.

A jury at the Old Bailey deliberated for more than eight hours before clearing the youth of murder but finding him guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter by a majority of 10 to two.

The defendant was remanded into youth detention to be sentenced on March 10.

Jurors were told the defendant, who was enrolled on a college course, has a history of carrying weapons. He was caught with a black knife at Southside shopping centre in Wandsworth two months before the killing on August 5, 2021.

He pleaded guilty to that offence and was given a youth rehabilitation order at Wimbledon Magistrates' Court on the morning of October 12.

Later that afternoon, he and a group of others came across Hazrat, who was sitting with a female friend on the Craneford Way Playing Fields, which are near Richmond College.

Prosecutor Jacob Hallam KC told the court that one of the girls in the group made a comment that the pair 'looked nice together'.

The defendant, then aged 16, began swearing towards the pair, allegedly making racist remarks, which led to a confrontation.

Hazrat, a promising cricketer who came to the UK two years ago, rang a male friend for help, saying he was going to be in a fight.

The court was told the defendant then produced a 20cm long black knife with zigzag-shaped indentations on the blade.

The victim told the female friend to step away and, as the confrontation continued, the defendant stabbed him in the right side causing a deep wound and massive blood loss.

Fatally injured, Mr Wali grabbed the defendant's jacket and asked: 'Why did you stab me?'

He picked up a fallen branch but collapsed soon afterwards.

Giving evidence in court, the youth claimed he got the knife out because they were 'pushing each other' and he wanted to be left alone.

He said he grew 'scared' when Mr Wali called his male friend for 'back-up', and added: 'I thought he had something on him, a knife.'

At the time of the killing, the youth said he sometimes 'felt unsafe' walking on the streets and would carry a knife for protection after incidents in which he, a cousin and a friend were attacked.

The court was shown a photograph of the defendant's hand, which needed stitches after he was attacked with a knife in New Cross in 2020.

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