The call every moms and dad fears came at 6 in the early morning. Dolores Wallace, still half asleep, got the phone and held it to her ear.
Initially it was difficult to understand what the voice on the other end was informing her. Her child Tommy had actually been stabbed, she required to come to the medical facility.
‘They stated I required to arrive rapidly,’ she states in an unique interview with the Mail, remembering the minute life twisted on its axis and plunged her and her household into abstruse catastrophe. ‘I remained in shock, numb, however I got in the cars and truck and drove.’
At Poole Health Center in Dorset, cosmetic surgeons were fighting to conserve the life of her 21-year-old child, Thomas Roberts, who previously that night had actually been stabbed two times in fast succession by Afghan migrant Lawangeen Abdulrahimzai after actioning in to relax a minor row over an e-scooter.
Medical professionals informed Dolores they were searching for the source of the bleeding so that they might stop it. However the next time the door to the visitors’ space opened, she was informed that her precious child, a previous sea scout who liked cruising and had simply ending up completing application to sign up with the Royal Militaries, was dead.
Afghan migrant Lawangeen Abdulrahimzai was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 29 years at Salisbury Crown Court for murdering 21-year-old Thomas Roberts following an argument over a scooter, outside a Subway sandwich shop in Bournemouth, Dorset, in March last year
Surgeons at Poole Hospital in Dorset battled to save the life of 21-year-old Thomas Roberts (pictured) after he had been stabbed twice in quick succession by Abdulrahimzai
‘I couldn’t take it in,’ she says. ‘I was shouting because I thought that they’d given up on him. I just wanted them to get him back. I couldn’t believe Tommy was gone.’
This was no tragic, fateful placing of an innocent person in the wrong place at the wrong time, nor was it an isolated incident. Abdulrahimzai, we now know, should not have been in Britain and wouldn’t have been if proper checks had taken place.
He’d already killed twice before that night, gunning down two fellow Afghan migrants with a Kalashnikov rifle in Serbia in 2018 where, the Mail discovered this week, far from being a dispossessed victim of atrocity seeking sanctuary, he worked as a people smuggler while zig-zagging his way around Europe.
In fact, it was a turf war with a rival smuggling gang which led to the murders.
This week — at the end of his three-week trial at Salisbury Crown Court — he was also found guilty of murdering Thomas in March last year and sentenced to life in jail.
But his case has raised disturbing and urgent questions about how he slipped into the UK undetected after pretending to be a 14-year-old orphan when he stepped off a cross-channel ferry in Poole in December 2019. In reality, he was at least 18.
After listening to his sob story about fleeing the Taliban, border forces and the Home Office failed to check the hardened killer’s fingerprints against international police databases, taking at face value his claim to be a child. Had authorities made proper checks, they would have discovered that Abdulrahimzai had already been denied entry to Norway and Italy and that he was already wanted in Serbia where, in his absence, he was later found guilty of murder.
He was swiftly placed with a foster family and gained a place at a secondary school where, dressed in uniform, he mixed with children as young as 11.
Piling blunder upon blunder, there were further missed opportunities to stop Abdulrahimzai after police and social services were warned about him on multiple occasions by those who saw him carrying a knife or a machete. Even after he was removed from care after threatening his foster mother, he was simply moved on to new taxpayer-funded accommodation.
Indeed, the Mail can also reveal that three months before he stabbed Thomas in Bournemouth, Abdulrahimzai had terrorised and threatened to stab a 16-year-old girl in the town while living in the same residential care home. More, later, of her terrifying ordeal at his hands.
‘If someone had done their job properly all of this could have been prevented,’ says Dolores. ‘Tommy would still be alive today. It’s just so unfair that this happened to my boy. He was so kind and caring. He never hurt anybody. It’s such a waste of a precious life.’
Her husband Peter, who was stepfather to Tommy for 20 years, adds: ‘When you lose your son it’s like losing a part of you. Your whole life is built around those moments with your children.’
He cannot understand how Abdulrahimzai was allowed into the country in the first place.
‘They let him in with no checks whatsoever. I have been checked more when signing up to a gym or going abroad on holiday. ‘The system has let us down. 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.’
British authorities have now determined that Abdulrahimzai is at least 21, meaning he would have already been 18 when he got off the ferry which brought him from Cherbourg to Poole on Boxing Day in 2019.
But investigations by the Mail in Serbia this week suggest that he may even be older than that. Among documents held by authorities is a copy of an ID card giving his year of birth as 2000.
During his trial at Salisbury Crown Court, Abdulrahimzai claimed that the Taliban killed his parents when he was a young boy and that he himself had been tortured as a teenager. He left Afghanistan via Pakistan in October 2015 and headed for Europe. For the next three years, he flitted between Italy, Norway and Serbia where — unlike the UK — authorities took his fingerprints.
Speaking exclusively to the Mail this week, the Serbian judge who tried Abdulrahimzai for murder in his absence in November 2020 said there was no question that the Afghan worked as a people smuggler charging refugees 2000 euros a head to get from Serbia into western Europe.
Marica Jolic, the deputy president of Sremska Mitrovica high court, said: ‘It was a small operation. There were three of them. But another group were trying to take their business so they killed them.’
The July 2018 murders took place in a derelict wooden house in a watermelon field on the edge of the village of Dobrinci, close to a service station on the busy E-70 motorway. It was a popular spot for migrants who used it as a base while waiting to board lorries crossing the border into Croatia on the way to western Europe.According to one witness, who gave evidence at the trial held in Abdulrahimzai’s absence in November 2020, the Afghan pulled out an AK-47 machine gun and confronted two rival people smugglers over money.
‘He cocked his weapon and then he said to me: “Get out because this is a dispute between Afghans. It has nothing to do you with you.”’ The witness left, breaking into a run when he heard shots ringing out. A taxi driver also told how he drove an ‘agitated and sweating’ Abdulrahimzai away from the scene.
Records show that by October 2018 he was in Norway where he applied for asylum. When he was turned down in November 2019, he left the country before he could be deported, travelling across Europe and this time heading for the UK.
After Courtney Sammon (pictured) rejected Abdulrahimzai, he became abusive. He began lying in wait for her when she left the home to walk into Bournemouth town centre, on one occasion approaching her in the town square and telling her: ‘You are going to get it’
The idea that such a hardened ruthless killer could insert himself so easily into British society is terrifying. But by January 2020 he was living in Bournemouth with experienced foster mother Nicola Marchant-Jones and had gained a place at Winton Academy, a well-respected secondary school.
Nicola told the Mail this week that she had ‘had to accept he was 14’ and had ‘no other way of checking it’. She said he grew into a ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ personality after being caught with knives several times.
‘He seemed to think that he had the right to carry a knife to defend himself,’ she said.
In December 2020, during a trip to buy him a coat from JD Sports, she noticed he was carrying a knife from her own kitchen in his belt. Despite reporting it to social services, no action was taken. His behaviour towards her became increasingly aggressive and he was removed from her home in August 2021 after nearly head-butting her during an argument.
Within weeks he moved into Sevenoaks, a 14-unit residential home in Bournemouth for troubled teenagers aged 16-18 with staff on duty 24 hours a day. It was here he met fellow resident, Courtney Sammon, who was 16 at the time.
She vividly remembers Abdulrahimzai’s arrival at the large Edwardian property, in around October 2021, when he would have been at least 20. His hair was cut neatly and he was dressed in trainers and sports clothes.
‘He was swaggering,’ says the now 17-year-old student. ‘He was full of himself, thought he was top dog.’
She adds: ‘He spoke good English and he tried to start a conversation. He said his name was Tyson and asked mine and then said, “You are absolutely beautiful”. At first I thought he was trying to be nice but over the next few days, he went on all the time about how he wanted to get to know me and how he knew how to treat a woman.’
Once, when she was sitting on one of the sofas in the home’s communal area, Abdulrahimzai sat close to her and began rubbing one of his bare feet up and down her leg. ‘I moved away and told him not to touch me,’ she said.
‘A couple of other times he grabbed my hair and smelled it, saying, “You are really sexy”.’
His behaviour became increasingly disturbing. While some of his comments are too crude to be repeated, soon he was offering to pay her for sex. He started following Courtney whenever she went out. ‘I asked him to stay away from me,’ she says. ‘But he wouldn’t leave me alone.’
She told several members of staff at the home about his behaviour and asked them to keep him away from her. Each time, she was told that they’d ‘log it’ or Abdulrahimzai was simply told to go upstairs to his space.
Rejected by Courtney, he became abusive. He began lying in wait for her when she left the home to walk into Bournemouth town centre, on one occasion approaching her in the town square and telling her: ‘You are going to get it.’
Things became so bad that she shut herself away in her room, avoiding the shared kitchen and communal area. If she went out, she would phone ahead and check with staff that he wasn’t downstairs so that she didn’t have to see him.
Several times during the night Abdulrahimzai would bang furiously on her locked door before running away. He sent her abusive messages on social media.
‘I begged the staff for help and they kept saying they’d sort it and that he wouldn’t be there for long but nothing was ever done,’ she says.
As Abdulrahimzai’s behaviour deteriorated, he began threatening other residents. On one terrifying occasion, in December 2021, he went on the rampage and threatened to ‘stab everyone’.
‘He informed me and the other girls: “You’re all going to get it. I’m going to kill you all”,’ says Courtney.
‘He tried kicking one of the boys’ doors down. The staff didn’t know what to do.’ Terrified, she and four others locked themselves in one of the rooms.
Abdulrahimzai jumped in a taxi, shouting that he was going to get weapons to carry out his threat. During a call to one of the residents from the car, he was overheard threatening the taxi driver, telling him: ‘Don’t even ask me for money or I’ll stab you.’
Courtney says that a week later, he disappeared from the home and she didn’t hear anything of him again until his face appeared all over the media at the end of his trial this week.
‘I felt so sick,’ she says. ‘It could have been me but also, if something had been done to stop him, he wouldn’t have been free to kill.’
Shortly after doctors told Dolores of her son Thomas’s death on March 12 last year, she told them she wanted to see him.
‘I said I needed to be with him, to say goodbye as he left the world. But I wasn’t allowed because they said they had to preserve any DNA evidence because there had been a crime.
‘The only time I saw him was six weeks later, just before his funeral. It wasn’t the same. I held his hand and it was frozen — so, so cold. I couldn’t feel close to him. There was no connection there.’
Less than a year has passed but already his absence has been keenly felt at several key family events: his 28-year-old sister Patti’s wedding in Spain last June at which the family set a place for him, his 24-year-old sister’s MA graduation from Bath University last month. He also leaves behind his devastated younger brother, 13-year-old William.
A Downing Street spokesman this week described the case as ‘shocking’ and said that the Government is seeking to put in place ‘robust’ measures to determine the age of asylum seekers, including X-rays and MRI scans to look at the development of teeth and bones. Such procedures are already in place in countries including Norway, Sweden and Denmark.
In the depths of her grief, says Dolores, she has come to think of her precious child as a precious ‘key’ whose death has actually unlocked the scandalous truth about Britain’s broken asylum system.
‘In dying he has uncovered this terrible story, all these hidden crimes, the other murders, the individuals trafficking. My Tommy has actually exposed all of this.’