Two males have been convicted of murder at the Old Bailey following the fatal stabbing of a 19-year-old who was attacked in a case of mistaken identity.
The pair, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, were aged just 14 at the time of the murder of Hussein Ahmed which took place in South Harrow in November 2016.
The 14-year-olds, [A] and [F], were also each convicted on Monday, 19 June of causing grievous bodily harm (GBH) wounding with intent and attempted GBH wounding with intent on two other 18-year-olds youths.
Another male, [C] aged 16, who had been charged with the same three offences was cleared of all counts.
Hussein was stabbed once in the back in the unprovoked attack which happened as he was riding his bike in the area of South Harrow tube station in November last year.
The attack happened at approximately 17:10hrs on Friday, 18 November outside a takeaway shop on Northolt Road, Harrow. He was pronounced dead on Monday, 21 November after life support was withdrawn.
The university student, who lived in north west London, had no links to gangs and detectives believe it was a distinct possibility that he may well have sustained the fatal injury after trying to intervene to protect other teenagers he knew from being attacked. Two 18-year-old youths suffered minor injuries in a prior incident on the same afternoon.
CCTV images taken from a shop in the minutes after the violent assault that were shown in court reveal the boy known as [F] wielding a large knife that he is trying to conceal in his clothing.
The Old Bailey trial heard that the convicted youths joined forces on the afternoon of Friday 18 November at the Grahame Park Estate, in Grahame Park Way, NW9.
Police believe their actions over the following hours demonstrated they had been tipped off as to the whereabouts of an intended target from a rival gang who they were determined to track down – constituting a ‘call to arms’, as investigating officers described it.
Just after 17:00hrs, a cab hired by one of the trio from the estate – having already made a stop-off along the way – was told to stop in Eastcote Road and wait. The teenagers were seen to disappear in the direction of Northolt Road. The group then attacked two 18-year-old youths in Parkfield Road by slashing them with knives, causing minor injuries.
While one of these victims was running away, Hussein was seen riding his bike down Northolt Road apparently deliberately heading towards the group of attackers. Shortly afterwards, a witness driving past saw Hussein having words with one of the group before he appeared to walk away in an effort to avoid any conflict. Seconds later he saw Hussein being stabbed from behind with what he described as a large eight or nine inch ‘Rambo’ or combat style hunting knife.
Hussein staggered to a nearby kebab shop where he collapsed, fatally wounded. He was subsequently taken to hospital by emergency services. Three days later his life support machine was turned off.
The group of attackers returned to the waiting mini cab and told the driver to take them back to a location nearby the estate he had originally picked them up from. The driver testified that they were laughing and joking on the return journey. The prosecution case asserted the 14-mile round trip had no other purpose than to deliberately find a young male victim to stab.
The driver subsequently found a purple latex glove in the footwell of his cab, which was later recovered by police and was identical to one seen on CCTV footage being worn by [F] at the time of the assault. Police also noted that the main suspects all disposed of their mobile phones soon after the murder had taken place.[A] was arrested on 21 November, while [F] surrendered himself to police on 27 November.
In a victim impact statement, Hussein’s older brother Shamarke recalled how hard he had worked at college to get the grades required to get into the BA degree course in business management he had been studying for. He remembered Hussein as a very helpful person who was always the first to assist in any family crisis, a teenager who enjoyed playing football in the local park with his friends.
Shamarke said: “Understandably, friends and family were truly shocked and confused over what happened to Hussein and everyone was asking why. Hussein would never hurt anyone or get involved in fighting – he was a very peaceful person.”
Hussein’s father Ahmed Catteye also told of his grief in his victim impact statement, recollecting how the frantically worried family, his wife and two elder sons, gathered at his youngest son’s bedside at the hospital where he had undergone emergency surgery after the attack.
He said: “Hussein didn’t look like same person I had remembered him as, you could see the shock his face and body had endured. You could clearly see he was fighting for his life.” He described how the trauma of his son’s death had dominated his family’s thoughts since the day of the fatal incident, and had also led them into financial hardship due to he and his wife having to take months off work in order to support Hussein’s remaining siblings in their grief. His father also revealed that he had been unable to find words to explain to his youngest child, Hussein’s little sister, why her older brother was never coming home. “We hope no other family will have to go through what we have been through,” he concluded.
Detective Inspector Simon Stancombe, from the Met’s Homicide and Major Crime Command, said: “Hussein Ahmed was a young man with everything to live for. He had recently started a degree and was excited about the future.
“His murder on a busy Harrow street last November was as brutal as it was cowardly. A knife was plunged into his back as he tried to intervene against attackers in order to help others.
“Having carefully planned and coordinated the attack, his three killers armed themselves with knives and, wearing surgical gloves to avoid leaving forensic evidence, travelled across London in a taxi, in an effort to hunt down rival gang members and seek revenge for previous violent attacks.
“The two boys who murdered Hussein were just 14 years old. Tragically, it no longer comes as a surprise that children carry knives and are prepared to use them against other youngsters.
“Seven months on, Hussein’s family are understandably still struggling to come to terms with their loss. Trying to explain to his little sister that he’s never coming back makes the pain even worse.
“I would implore parents to talk to their children about both the utter futility and unimaginably grave consequences of carrying a knife. No more families should have to suffer the heartache that Hussein’s family have.”
Sentencing will take place at the Old Bailey on 24 July.