Lawangeen Abdulrahimzai is jailed for life by Judge Paul Dugdale for the murder of Tom Roberts on Old Christchurch Road in March last year.
Sentencing Abdulrahimzai, the judge said to the defendant: “On March 12 2022, you murdered Thomas Roberts, a man you never met before. You spent 26 seconds of your life with him, at the end of which you stabbed him fatally twice to the chest with a large knife you routinely carried with you.
“You started the conflict, and throughout you were the threatening aggressor. In seconds you took the life of a thoroughly decent man with a bright future who was lived greatly by so many people.
“Your momentary act of extreme, senseless violence has left a family with a tragic loss that they will feel for the rest of their lives”.
The court was told that Tom Roberts acted as a ‘peacemaker’ between his friend, Mr James Medway, and Mr Abdulrahimzai after they got into an argument over an electric scooter. The defendant claimed the scooter was his and left it propped against the window of the Subway shop.
The confrontation only lasted 24 seconds, but was enough time for Mr Abdulrahimzai to stab Mr Roberts with a concealed knife twice and flee the scene, running away to a nearby woodland through Horseshoe Common.
Lawangeen Abdulrahimzai was previously carrying a knife by his foster family, who warned him not to, and warned police and social workers of the danger.
He was on the run from murder charges in Serbia after shooting two victims with a Kalashnikov assault rifle. He then fled to the UK. However, his violent past was undetected and managed to dupe officials into believing he was 14 years old, up to six years under his actual age.
Detective Chief Inspector Simon Huxter of Dorset Police added: “Matters relating to the defendant’s background and previous convictions have been shared with relevant agencies to ensure appropriate reviews are carried out and areas for learning are identified.
“However, my focus over the past nine months as senior investigating officer has been to gather evidence relating to the brutal murder of Thomas Roberts and ensure his killer was brought to justice for this offence”.
Abdulrahimzai also shared pictures of himself posing with a long-bladed knife on TikTok, months before the incident.
Tom Robert’s tearful family watched from the public gallery at Salisbury Crown Court as their victim impact statements were read aloud.
During the judge imposed the sentence, the father of the 21-year-old Thomas Roberts shared the impact of his son’s death at Salisbury Crown Court: “When I arrived at hospital, he was already in the operating theatre but they were unable to stop the bleeding, and after his heart stopped for the fifth time, he died.
“Tommy is my only son, I always wanted a son and he has been taken away from me, leaving a terrible void. I miss him every day, every hour, every minute. Now I ask justice is served”.
Dolores Wallace, Thomas Robert’s mother also shared her sadness with the prosecutor reading her impact statement, saying she was the ‘proudest mummy in the world’: “My heart bleeds, broken-hearted, knowing you are not here anymore”.
The victim’s partner, Gemma Walker, told the court that she was ‘surviving but not living’ since his murder. She said: “I listened to the doctors say they couldn’t save him – it was traumatising, I watch it and hear it on repeat in my mind.
“It has physically and mentally broken me that I didn’t get to say goodbye or ‘I love you’ for one last time – it’s soul-destroying.
“Tommy was the best thing that happened to me, the reason I worked so hard to ensure our future together – now it’s gone”.
The Home Office said it will investigate the “red flags missed” and look at the full circumstances surrounding the case.
At the end of the trial, Judge Dugdale said that growing up in worn-torn Afghanistan would have an impact on a young child and has “serious damaging effects on the personality and behaviour of those who has lived through it”, but this must be taken into account carefully.
The judge added: “Thomas did nothing wrong that night at all. He was simply very unlucky to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and to meet Lawangeen Abdulrahimzai”.