LONDON: An Afghan asylum seeker was legally admitted to the UK before murdering a 21-year-old, despite later being convicted of two murders in his absence by a Serbian court, The Times has reported.
Lawangeen Abdulrahimzai arrived in the UK in 2019 after a long four-year period of travel and stints of crime in countries including Italy, Serbia, France and Norway.
He told British border authorities that he was 14 years old but a court determination estimated his real age upon arrival as 18.
On March 12 last year, Abdulrahimzai murdered Thomas Roberts, 21, a prospective Royal Marine, by stabbing him in the chest twice following a streetside altercation.
Following a trial that concluded on Monday at Salisbury Crown Court, the now 21-year-old was convicted of murder by majority, after admitting only manslaughter.
However, it later emerged that Abdulrahimzai previously murdered two Afghan men in Serbia while aged 15, raising questions over how he successfully claimed asylum in the UK despite facing rounds of questioning by police in Dorset, his arrival point.
Dorset Police said after the verdict it was unaware of Abdulrahimzai’s double murder conviction.
A spokesman said: “Any inquiries regarding convictions from outside of UK jurisdiction held by foreign nationals entering the UK are a matter for other agencies.”
Nic Lobbenberg KC, for the prosecution, said that the killings in Serbia took place near the capital Belgrade, in 2018.
Abdulrahimzai was found guilty of murder in his absence by a Serbian court and sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment.
It emerged that the then-15-year-old gunned down two fellow Afghans using a rifle following an argument over migrant trafficking, in which the trio was involved.
He was also convicted of drug dealing during a stay in Italy in 2017.
Judge Paul Dugdale, overseeing the UK murder case, said: “This only became apparent to the UK authorities after the commission of this offense we have been dealing with in this trial.”
He added: “It’s a terrifying case with the use of an automatic firearm possibly linked to the business of trafficking.”
Lobbenberg described Abdulrahimzai as a man who “revels in violence,” The Telegraph reported.
After arriving in the UK, the Afghan was assigned a foster carer, Nicola Marchant-Jones, on account of his age.
Marchant-Jones told the court that Abdulrahimzai was a “very troubled individual” despite first appearing as “shy, kind and sweet.”
The Afghan “suffered mood swings” and would “go from zero to 100 almost instantly,” she said, telling the court she feared that Abdulrahimzai “would do something with a knife.”
The carer said: “At one point he said he was doing street fighting.
“He appeared to have lots of money. I didn’t see any money but he was buying nice things.”
The court heard that Abdulrahimzai initially left Afghanistan in 2015 after being tortured and stabbed 28 times.
Abdulrahimzai’s uncle arranged for him to be smuggled through Pakistan, with the 21-year-old claiming that his parents had been killed by the Taliban for brewing alcohol and working with NATO forces.