A teen who took part in the revenge killing of a 15-year-old schoolboy has been imprisoned for ten years.
Tamim Ian Habimana died from a single stab wound to the heart after being attacked on his way home from school in Woolwich, southeast London, on July 5, last year.
The 16-year-old killer was among a group of youths ‘out for vengeance’ after a 15-year-old friend of Tamim carried out a stabbing in Dartford nine days earlier.
Tamim’s mother described herself as ’emotionally absent’ and her ‘brain fudged with grief’ in court.
She said: ‘I have practised at least 53 different ways to write this statement, there simply aren’t enough words, in this language or any other language to express how I feel.
‘The rage, the intense and unspeakable sorrow manifests itself in physical pain.
‘The impact of his death on me and his two younger brothers, extended family, friends, teachers and entire community has been catastrophic. There is an overwhelming sense of injustice.
‘You had no right to take my son, you had no right to end his life so casually, to end his life without even looking back.’
Tamim’s killer was cleared of murder by an Old Bailey jury but convicted of manslaughter and conspiracy to commit violent disorder.
He had previously admitted to wounding with intent and having an offensive weapon.
Two other boys, aged 14 and 16, were found not guilty of murder, manslaughter, or attempted murder.
The older boy, now 17, was convicted of possessing a dangerous weapon and conspiring to commit violent disorder.
He was sentenced to an 18-month young offenders rehabilitation order as well as a 55-hour activity requirement. For three months, he was subjected to an electronic curfew between the hours of 8 p.m. and 6 a.m.
The younger boy, who is now 15, was found guilty of wounding the second victim, possessing an offensive weapon, and conspiring to commit violent disorder.
He was sentenced to an 18-month young offenders rehabilitation order. He will also undertake 30 hours activity requirement and be given an electronic curfew between 9pm and 6am for the next three months.
Tamim’s mother continued: ‘My life effectively ended on 5 July 2021. Since then I have barely existed, getting out of bed remains akin to going to war.
‘I have to remember he is really gone. The agony is unspeakable. I feel like someone is stabbing my own heart, such as you did to my son.
‘My son was innocent. He held up his empty hands and yet you took his life.
‘His playfulness, his smile, his honesty and openness, is gone. His absence is sharp and brutal for us all.
‘The impact of Tamim’s death has been cataclysmic. It has shaken the foundation of everything we know. We are angry and without purpose.’
Greenwich Council has planted a tree in memory of Tamim following his passing.
Danny Robinson, prosecuting, had told jurors how the youths went to Woolwich on July 5 to carry out a revenge attack for a stabbing committed by the second victim nine days earlier.
He said: ‘The defendants’ group were armed with weapons, and Tamim Ian Habimana was stabbed in the heart.’
CCTV played to the court captured the five teenagers crossing Vincent Road, next to Woolwich Arsenal station.
Suddenly, one of the boys removed the metal stem from the umbrella he was carrying and the group charged toward Tamim and his friends.
In an attempt to escape, Tamim ran between two parked cars but seconds later was caught by his attackers.
The footage showed him reaching his hands out as his killer turned and stabbed him once in the chest.
Despite his injury, Tamim managed to run a short distance up Woolwich New Road, but collapsed shortly after.
Further CCTV footage captured the attack on the second victim.
The group cornered him in the road, striking him with the umbrella stem and their fists.
Tamim’s killer stabbed at him, hitting him once in the back before his knife broke.
The prosecutor continued: ‘An off-duty police officer, Mhmuda Gumanach, saw what was happening and ran across the road to stop the fight.
‘By coincidence, another police officer was also at the scene of the attack.
‘The attack took place right in front of him, although it happened very quickly.
‘He saw the umbrella stem and the knife being used as weapons during the attack.
‘The defendants travelled to Woolwich that day with a purpose: to carry out an attack with weapons.
‘The killer did not only stab the second victim once, but multiple times, continuing even when the knife had broken.’
A member of the public called an ambulance and specialist trauma doctors were airlifted to the scene.
Despite their best efforts, they did not manage to save Tamim and he was pronounced dead just after 6pm that day.
Police attended the hospital where the second victim was being treated for his injuries, but the young boy refused to cooperate with the investigation.
One of the suspects was discovered using a school computer to search for reports of Tamim’s murder the day after the killing.
In a meeting with the school, he stated that he was interested in the attack because he “used to live in Woolwich” and was at the cinema with friends at the time.
The knife pierced Tamim’s heart, leaving a 17mm wound on the skin’s surface that went 15cm deep, according to a post-mortem examination.
‘He [Tamim] was defenseless when you turned around and chose to stab him in the chest,’ Judge Mark Dennis told the killer.
‘There was no real justification or excuse for your violence; it was a situation you created.’
‘You displayed a complete lack of remorse in having committed such a public act of violence.
‘The family [of Tamim] should be commended for their dignity and composure they have shown throughout court proceedings.’
Judge Dennis sentenced the 16-year-old to 10 years in detention with a three-year extended licence period.
He told the court that the extended sentence should be imposed due to the ‘significant risk of further serious harm’ the teen posed to members of the public.
Two other men, Daryl Bethel, 18, and Lewis Bollen, 20, were cleared by the jury of murder, attempted murder, wounding with intent and wounding.