A youth has been jailed for 10 years for stabbing an Afghan refugee to death in a Twickenham park, hours after being sentenced for having a knife.
Hazrat Wali, 18, died in hospital after suffering a 10cm deep wound in Craneford Way Playing Fields, south-west London, on the afternoon of October 12, 2021.
Players in a rugby match between two schools watched as the injured teenager picked up a branch before he collapsed.
A 17-year-old youth admitted wielding a knife within hours of leaving a magistrates’ court, but denied he intended to cause student and aspiring cricketer Mr Wali really serious harm.
A jury at the Old Bailey found him not guilty of murder but guilty of the lesser alternative charge of manslaughter.
The court heard the defendant, who was enrolled on a college course, went on to attack a McDonald’s server an hour after stabbing Mr Wali, for which he later pleaded guilty to affray and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
The teenager 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 the killing.
Judge Sarah Plaschkes KC sentenced him to 10 years’ detention at the Old Bailey on Friday.
She told the youth: “When you stabbed Hazrat he was unarmed and outnumbered by you and your friends.”
She said he made a “deliberate decision to carry a fearsome weapon” that day, adding: “You told the jury that you took the knife to the magistrates’ court. You left it in some bushes outside and collected it once the hearing concluded.”
Mr Wali’s older brother, Mohamed Ashuk, told the court in a victim impact statement that his sibling came to London from Afghanistan “hoping for a safer life”.
He added: “He was just settling into college and enjoying his new life in London and he wanted to study and become an engineer.”
Mr Ashuk said his children are afraid to leave the house for fear of being stabbed.
The court heard Mr Wali’s twin brother was “traumatised” by the news of his death when he arrived in the UK.
“He thought he would be reunited with his brother after travelling here from Afghanistan,” Mr Ashuk said.
The elder sibling continued: “This was no accident but it was a deliberate and violent attack which has left me and my family in a state of devastation.”
Mr Wali was sitting in the park with Mariam Ahmadazai, a female friend, on October 12, 2021 when they were approached by the defendant and five other teenagers.
Prosecutor Jacob Hallam KC had said that one of the girls in the group made a comment that the pair “looked nice together”.
The defendant, then aged 16, began swearing at Mr Wali, who got to his feet and approached him.
The defendant pushed Mr Wali with his chest.
Mr Wali rang a male friend for help, saying he was going to be in a fight.
The defendant then produced a 20cm long black knife with zigzag-shaped indentations on the blade and, following further exchanges, stabbed Mr Wali in the right side, causing a 10cm 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.
A teacher from a local school gave first aid and emergency services attended but they were unable to save his life and Mr Wali died about an hour later.
Giving evidence in court, the youth 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.
Under cross-examination, the youth admitted attacking another inmate while on remand at Feltham Young Offender Institution a month after the killing.
In a phone call, he had bragged that he and another inmate had targeted the victim in the showers.
He said: “Me and (the other youth) got into a scrap with some yout’ from Luton. We f***** him up, he’s still in hospital.”
On Boxing Day 2021, he came up behind a fellow inmate and punched him to the back of the head, and then took part in the melee that followed.
He pleaded guilty to affray and was sentenced to a four-month detention and training order, the court was told.
Garry Green, defending, said his client suffered trauma from witnessing domestic violence when he was younger and has been subject to social services since he was two years old.
In early 2015 when Mr Wali was just 13 years old, he left Afghanistan for his own safety and to start a new life.
He lived for a short time in Austria before moving permanently to the UK and settled in London in 2017.
Scotland Yard said he was described by all those who knew him across all care settings as shy, friendly, polite and respectful to everyone he met.