How was double murderer allowed into Britain to kill again?

How was double murderer allowed into Britain to kill again? MP demands Home Office probe after convicted Afghan killer slipped through the net and fled Serbia before coming to the UK on a passenger ferry and stabbing aspiring marine to death

  • Lawangeen Abdulrahimzai, 21, stabbed Thomas Roberts to death over e-scooter
  • After conviction, it was revealed he had shot dead two other people in Serbia
  • The violence erupted outside a Subway shop in Bournemouth on March 12, 2022 

A senior MP today called for a Home Office investigation into how an Afghan double killer and convicted drug dealer was able to sneak into the UK posing as a 14-year-old boy before going on to murder an aspiring Royal Marine. 

Lawangeen Abdulrahimzai, 21, was today found guilty of murdering Thomas Roberts during an argument over an e-scooter in Bournemouth town centre in March last year. 

The ‘knife-obsessed’ criminal had fled Serbia after shooting dead two men and being sentenced to 20 years in jail, but his previous convictions were not marked on any police databases or intelligence systems. 

He arrived in Poole, Dorset, on a Britanny Ferries service from Cherbourg in France on Boxing Day 2019, and was allowed into the UK after telling officials he was a child whose parents were killed by the Taliban. 

Police released a picture of Lawangeen Abdulrahimzai, 21, after he was convicted of murder

The Afghan national murdered aspiring Royal Marine Thomas Roberts (above), 21, outside a Subway sandwich shop in Bournemouth on March 12 last year

Following his conviction, Bournemouth East MP Tobias Ellwood said officials faced ‘some very serious questions’ over the case.

He told MailOnline: ‘There must now be an investigation into how such a dangerous individual slipped through the net.

‘Did anyone know he had killed twice in Serbia before arriving in the UK? The Home Office has to answer some very serious questions’.

Following Abdulrahimzai’s conviction, Bournemouth East MP Tobias Ellwood said officials faced ‘some very serious questions’ over the case

In a tribute Thomas Roberts, Mr Ellwood, who fought to save Pc Keith Palmer in the Westminster terror attack on 2017, said: ‘It is utterly tragic that someone who stepped in to calm a situation and make a positive contribution to his community in this way has been struck down’.

Officials were unaware of Abdulrahimzai’s previous convictions — carried out under the alias ‘Huan Yasin’ — until police started investigating Mr Roberts’ murder.

They discovered that two people in Serbia had been shot dead by a petrol station and Abdulrahimzai 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 them so comprehensively that he was placed with foster mother Nicola Marchant-Jones.

The asylum seeker, seen here on bus CCTV, broke down in tears and claimed his parents were killed by the Taliban and detailed the alleged torture he endured

An image of the a knife held by Lawangeen Abdulrahimzai in a video posted on his TikTok page

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

He killed his third murder victim, stabbing Mr Roberts (pictured) twice in the chest with a ’10cm blade’ after an argument with his friend about an e-scooter outside a Subway sandwich shop

The 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.

Prosecutor Nic Lobbenberg KC said: ‘Between July 31 and August 1 in 2018, during the evening in in Dobrinci – near the motorway – he murdered two people also from Afghanistan.

‘The name he was using was Huan Yasin.’

Mr Lobbenberg KC said Afghans were staying in a shed in the area when an argument broke out over trafficking.

‘The defendant arrived and an argument broke about the business of transporting migrants.

‘He was armed with an automatic assault rifle, two others had pistols… one of the group said ‘who is the smuggler?’ and then aimed their weapons at the victims

‘He shot 18 rounds of a 7.62 calibre Kalashnikov.

‘It’s a military weapon with great firepower and rapid rate of fire.

‘The range of the shooting was said to be relatively short, three to 10 metres.’

Mr Lobbenberg KC said the killer did not move position and fired six rounds into each victim, with some bullets hitting their heads.

‘An enormous number found their target’, he said.

Abdulrahimzai, who fled Serbia, was later identified by a taxi driver who drove him away from the scene, it was heard.

The taxi driver said he was ‘sweating’ and ‘showing signs of anxiety’, with the court also hearing he got the weapon from ‘gypsies’.

In November 2020 he was convicted of murder in his absence by a Serbian court, having been wanted in the country since the attacks.

He was understood to be 15 at the time of the killings, it was heard.

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.

However Abdulrahimzai – nicknamed Lo by Ms Marchant-Jones – was caught with a knife but was only given words of advice by Bournemouth police.

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

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

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

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

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

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.

When arrested, he told authorities he was 16, but the court has since determined that he is now 21. 

Taking to the dock 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 when the last remnants of Allied forces withdrew after two decades.

Recalling his 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.’

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

A police cordon outside the Subway sandwich shop on Old Christchurch Road in Bournemouth

The police cordoned off 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 Mr Lobbenberg 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.

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 at around 4.40am. 

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

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

In a video of the raid just after midnight on March 13, an officer can be heard reading him his legal rights as Abdulrahimzai is detained in the hallway of his block of flats in Poole. 

Armed police are pictured arresting the Afghan national, who is now revealed as a triple killer

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

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

Details about his journey to safety through Europe were also revealed in court.

Family tells over their agony over Thomas Roberts’ death

‘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. Thomas was loved by many people and continues to be loved in his absence.

He was a bright young man with a sense humour. Active sportsman and loved his DJing in his spare time.

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 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 triple killer 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 the KC 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 footage released to the court, Abdulrahimzai can be seen viciously pummeling another man in a street brawl before boasting: ‘We are Afghan, we keep it real’.

In the video shown to jurors, he can be seen pinning his helpless opponent to the floor as he rains down blows, punching the cowering man 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.’

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.

On the night of the stabbing, the jury was told Abdulrahimzai wore a hooded coat, a balaclava partially covering his face and an Afghan flag around his neck. 

A chilling Snapchat video shows murderer 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)

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

It was heard that the asylum seeker burned his clothes and buried his knife after the murder, but detectives were able to trace him as he had dropped his mobile phone while fleeing from the scene of the vicious attack.

Abdulrahimzai will now be sentenced for murder on Wednesday.

Detective Chief Inspector Simon Huxter, of Dorset Police’s major crime investigation team, said: ‘First and foremost our thoughts are with the family and loved ones of Thomas Roberts. Nothing will ever make up for their tragic loss and I would like to pay tribute to them for the dignified way they have conducted themselves throughout the investigation and court process. 

‘I also pay tribute to those that came to Tommy’s aid in the aftermath of the incident.

‘This case serves as another reminder of the truly devastating consequences of knife crime. 

‘Lawangeen Abdulrahimzai’s decision to go out in possession of a knife on the night of this murder and his utterly indefensible decision to use that weapon has seen a much-loved young man’s life cruelly taken away.’

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