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Afghan asylum seeker to be sentenced after murdering man over scooter argument

Lawangeen Abdulrahimzai has been found guilty of the murder of Thomas Roberts (Dorset Police/PA)
Lawangeen Abdulrahimzai has been found guilty of the murder of Thomas Roberts (Dorset Police/PA)

A double killer who sought asylum in the UK will be sentenced on Wednesday for murdering a man after an argument about a scooter.

On Monday, Lawangeen Abdulrahimzai was found guilty by majority verdict of murdering 21-year-old Thomas Roberts in Bournemouth, Dorset, last year.

After the verdict was delivered at Salisbury Crown Court, prosecutor Nic Lobbenberg revealed Abdulrahimzai had been previously convicted of murdering two people in Serbia.

He was found guilty of two counts of murder as well as a related firearm offence in 2020 following a trial in his absence, having already fled Serbia.

He had been sentenced to 20 years in prison for the offences, which took place between July 31 and August 1 2018.

Abdulrahimzai fled his home country of Afghanistan after he says his parents were killed by the Taliban and he was tortured by them.

Mr Roberts was acting as the “peacemaker” in the early hours of March 12 2022, after his friend James Medway got into an argument with Abdulrahimzai.

Mr Medway wanted to take an e-scooter Abdulrahimzai had claimed for himself and left propped against the window of the Subway sandwich shop in Old Christchurch Road.

Lawangeen Abdulrahimzai court case
CCTV captured Lawangeen Abdulrahimzai riding the e-scooter shortly before the killing (Dorset Police/PA)

The confrontation, which lasted only 24 seconds, saw Mr Roberts slap Abdulrahimzai in the face.

Abdulrahimzai then revealed the knife he had hidden between the two pairs of trousers he was wearing and stabbed Mr Roberts twice before running away into nearby woodland.

He buried the knife in the woods before burning the trousers, jacket, and Afghan flag he was wearing as a scarf.

However, he dropped his mobile phone as he fled and it was traced to his home address.

In the months before the incident, Abdulrahimzai shared pictures of himself posing with a knife about 10in long on the social media and video sharing app TikTok.

He had been seen carrying a knife by his foster parent, who had warned him not to, and had also been warned by police and social workers about the dangers of carrying a knife.

Abdulrahimzai told the court that he carried a knife because he was “fearing” for his life because there were people from Afghanistan who wanted to kill him, and he had also had death threats in Bournemouth.

The defendant said he posted photos of his knife on TikTok to get followers from “people out there liking knives”.

Abdulrahimzai, who lived in Poole at the time of the offence, arrived in the UK in December 2019, and told the authorities he was 16 when he was arrested, but the court has since determined that he is now 21.

In his defence, Abdulrahimzai said he had no intention to kill or cause really serious harm to Mr Roberts – he “acted instinctively”, said he “feared for his life”, and felt he had to defend himself.

He will be sentenced at the same court by Judge Paul Dugdale on Wednesday.