The parents of an aspiring Royal Marine who was stabbed to death by an Afghan asylum seeker have slammed the ‘broken system’ that allowed the double murderer to be granted entry into the UK.
Tom Roberts, 21, was stabbed twice as he tried to play peacemaker between his friend and Lawangeen Abdulrahimzai during a row over an e-scooter following a night out in Bournemouth in March last year.
Abdulrahimzai, also 21, was convicted of murder and jailed for life with a minimum term of 29 years at Salisbury Crown Court on Wednesday.
Following his conviction, it emerged he had been sentenced in his absence to a 20-year prison term in Serbia for shooting dead two people, but had duped Home Office and Border Force officials into believing he was a 14-year-old boy whose parents were murdered by the Taliban.
Dolores Wallace pictured posing for a photograph with her son Tom Roberts when he was around aged 10
Dolores Wallace and step father Peter said police only informed them of Abdulrahimzai’s conviction for a double shooting in Serbia a week before the trial
Abdulrahimzai was actually 19 at the time, but was taken in by a foster mother he would later threaten to headbutt and placed in a year group with girls and boys five years younger than him at a secondary school in Bournemouth.
The parents of Mr Roberts have now spoken of their utter disbelief at how he was allowed to roam the streets and ultimately murder their beloved son.
His mother Dolores Wallace and step father Peter said police only informed them of Abdulrahimzai’s conviction for a double shooting in Serbia a week before the trial.
Mrs Wallace, who moved to Britain from the Philippines more than 20 years ago, said: ‘The system is so broken it needs to be radically overhauled. Each so-called child needs to have proper checks done on them before it’s too late.
‘None of them should be allowed to walk the streets, or school corridors, until all the checks have been carried out into their pasts.
‘When I moved to Britain from the Philippines I had to go through all sorts of checks. Why were they not done for him? I just don’t understand why schools didn’t do anything when (Abdulrahimzai) was kicked out for possessing a knife.
‘He was let loose amongst all those 14-year-olds, anything could have happened. How many more people are out there like him? If someone had done their job properly this could have been prevented.
‘It’s just so unfair that this happened to my Tommy, he was such a kind and caring boy, he never hurt anybody.’
Mr Wallace added: ‘Why was this vermin allowed on the streets? There were enough warnings. He is evil and had killed two people in Serbia. His foster carer felt threatened by him and then kicked him out.
Lawangeen Abdulrahimzai, an Afghan asylum seeker, was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 29 years at Salisbury Crown Court earlier this week
The parents of Tom Roberts (pictured) have told of their utter disbelief at the ‘failures at every level’ that allowed their son to be killed
Tom Roberts (left) pictured in a family photographed around age 13. He was stabbed twice as he tried to play peacemaker between his friend and Abdulrahimzai
Erika Wallace, Tom Roberts, Dolores, William and Patti Wallace pose for a photograph together during a family day out
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 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.
‘He was suspended from school too. He was a loaded cannon and he just happened to point at Tommy.
‘We feel like the system has let us down. We only learnt about the other murders a week before the trial began and we had to keep it secret.
‘Yet they let him in with no checks whatsoever. I have been checked more when signing up to a gym or going abroad on holiday.’
Mrs Wallace urged authorities to do more to tackle knife crime in Britain, particularly in schools and educating children around the dangers of carrying weapons.
She described her son as a ‘hero’ who probably saved the lives of others who might have got in Abdulrahimzai’s way
Mr Wallace added: ‘He (Abdulrahimzai) set out to kill someone that night, it could have been anyone.
‘What happened to Tommy was probably good for everyone else. Who knows how many people he saved?’
They described how his dream had been to become a Royal Marine – a career they are convinced in which he would have thriven.
He had already mastered work as a precision engineer and was excited by the prospect of a bigger challenge.
Tom enjoyed hands-on subjects at school, such as DT and woodwork, while he also had a passion for water sports, kayaking, airsoft and cycling.
Mr Wallace, a sales assistant who himself had previously served in the army, added: ‘It’s been heartbreaking, it’s just such a waste of such a precious life. When you lose your son it’s like losing a part of you.
‘Your whole life is built around those moments with your children. The only thing we can take from this is that it was quick and painless, Tommy didn’t even know he had been stabbed.
‘He was never in any fights at school, we encouraged him to take up boxing so that he would be able to defend himself if anything like this happened.’
The couple have backed calls led by local MP Tobias Ellwood for an inquiry into just how Abdulrahimzai came to be allowed into the country.
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 after carrying out the murders under the alias ‘Huan Yasin’.
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.
The triple murderer had also been convicted of drug-dealing in Italy and given a non-custodial sentence after pleading guilty.
Mrs Wallace urged authorities to do more to tackle knife crime in Britain, particularly in schools and educating children around the dangers of carrying weapons
But Abdulrahimzai deceived officials so comprehensively that he was placed with foster mother Nicola Marchant-Jones.
He was later 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.
Mr Wallace said: ‘I’m not against asylum seekers, I understand some of these people have nowhere else to go, but the right checks have to be in place so that this doesn’t happen again.
‘There is nothing that anyone can do that will make us feel better but we hope that something will change now. We support what Tobias Ellwood is doing demanding an inquiry.
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
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
‘I just want to see a proper system put in place so that this doesn’t happen again. Rightfully there will be a lot of questions and I hope they are all answered.’
Mrs Wallace, who also has a daughter Patti and younger son William, added: ‘I’m so relieved that Tobias Ellwood is listening to us and on our side.
‘There is a problem and it’s good to know someone is working on it.’
Both parents hope that support can be given to a local charity called Gloves Up Knives Down, which tries to support young people in communities affected by knife crime.
They also want a memorial bench and plaque installed at Horseshoe Common in Bournemouth – the scene where their son was murdered.