Murderer ‘asked schoolgirls out’ while posing as a 14-year-old to gain asylum

Lawangeen Abdulrahimzai - Dorset Police/PA/Dorset Police/PA
Lawangeen Abdulrahimzai – Dorset Police/PA/Dorset Police/PA

An Afghan asylum seeker who murdered an aspiring Royal Marine after posing as a 14-year-old to enter the UK asked girls out in the school corridor, parents claimed after he was jailed for life.

Lawangeen Abdulrahimzai, 21, will have to serve a minimum of 29 years for stabbing Thomas Roberts to death during a row over an e-scooter in Bournemouth, Dorset, in the early hours of March 12 2022.

Abdulrahimzai, who posed as a teenager to enter the UK in 2019, was already on the run prior to the murder after gunning down two fellow migrants in Serbia in 2018.

He had been convicted and sentenced to 20 years prison in the eastern European country in his absence.

On Wednesday, parents of children who attended the same secondary school where he was placed alleged that Abdulrahimzai had approached younger girls while posing as a schoolboy.

One mother, Abbie Mercy, wrote on social media: “This scumbag was placed … in my son’s year after he had murdered two people at pretty much point blank range!

“He was allowed to be with two of my children on a daily basis under the assumption he was 14. He was asking girls out.

“My anger is not with the school, I feel their hands were tied. It’s the local authority and the Government.

“Where’s the duty of care towards my children?”

Another, named Cherri Parsons, said: “I was fuming when I found out he had been placed in my 14-year-old daughter’s year group.

“Any kind of inappropriate behaviour could have occurred, as he was asking 14-year-old girls out and changing with 14-year-old boys in PE … not to mention the fact he liked to carry knives around.”

School authorities did not know that he had killed anyone while he was a pupil.

At Salisbury Crown Court on Wednesday, Judge Paul Dugdale told Abdulrahimzai he had taken the life of a “thoroughly decent man with a bright future”.

Thomas Roberts’ girlfriend told the court that all the 21-year-old had wanted was to “protect and serve” by joining the Royal Marines.

Sentencing Abdulrahimzai, Judge Dugdale said: “You spent 26 seconds of your life with [Thomas Roberts], 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 loved 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.”

He added it was “very clear Mr Roberts was loved deeply” and said “he had no doubt” he would have succeeded in the “notoriously tough” Royal Marine application process.

Thomas Roberts’ parents and partner paid an emotional tribute to him in court.

His father, Philip Roberts, said he missed his son “every day, every hour, every minute”.

Mother Dolores Wallace said: “My heart bleeds, brokenhearted, knowing you are not here any more”.

His partner, Gemma Walker, said she was “surviving but not living” since his murder and was “waiting for him to walk through the door”.

She added: “Every day I wake up knowing that Tom is no longer in bed lying by my side.

“He wanted to be a Marine, to protect and serve. To follow in his fathers’ footsteps and protect those against evil in the world where we cannot.

“We had a plan, a future planned where I could be with him and support him whilst he did this. It’s gone. His future is gone. My future is gone.”

Thomas Roberts' family say they are 'brokenhearted' by his death and miss him 'every day, every hour, every minute' - Family handout/Dorset Police
Thomas Roberts’ family say they are ‘brokenhearted’ by his death and miss him ‘every day, every hour, every minute’ – Family handout/Dorset Police

On his journey from Afghanistan to Bournemouth, Abdulrahimzai travelled through at least five different countries.

He was convicted of drug-dealing in Italy, and sentenced to 20 years in a Serbian prison for murdering two of his countrymen in a remote village with a Kalashnikov in 2018.

After the murders, he fled eastern Europe and, despite having an asylum claim rejected by the Norwegian authorities in Dec 2019, was able to board a ferry in Cherbourg, France, and travel to the UK.

Abdulrahimzai was then placed with a female foster carer and awarded a place at a local secondary school.

He was a keen boxer and cricketer, even playing for a cricket club in Bournemouth.

He posed with a knife on TikTok, was filmed on Snapchat assaulting a man in the street, got into street fights for money and scared his foster carer with his love of knives.

The knife Lawangeen Abdulrahimzai posed with on TikTok - Dorset Police/Solent News and Photo Agency
The knife Lawangeen Abdulrahimzai posed with on TikTok – Dorset Police/Solent News and Photo Agency

When he was arrested in Bournemouth, Abdulrahimzai told officers he was 16, having arrived in the UK as a 14-year-old two years earlier.

Subsequent tests carried out on his teeth ahead of the trial revealed that he was actually 21 years old.

In mitigation, Jo Martin KC said Abdulrahimzai acted “spontaneously” when he killed Thomas Roberts.

She added: “Any child born in Afghanistan around the early 2000s lived in a war torn and fractured country, the impact that would have had on him is perhaps told in what happened to him later in his life.”

He may serve his minimum term in the UK and then his minimum term in Serbia, she said.

Britain does not deport people to Afghanistan, and Britain will noy extradite Abdulrahimzai to Serbia unless they guarantee he can have a retrial, added Ms Martin.

The school Abdulrahimzai attended has been approached for comment.

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