EXCLUSIVE: Foster mother took killer thinking he was asylum seeker

EXCLUSIVE: ‘I was told he was 14 and had to accept it’: Foster mother took killer into her home thinking he was a teenage asylum seeker – before the ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ character attacked her and ‘thought he had the right to carry a knife’

  • Lawangeen Abdulrahimzai, 21, murdered aspiring Royal Marine Thomas Roberts
  • He deceived Border Force and the Home Office to be granted entry into the UK

The foster mother of an Afghan asylum seeker who murdered an aspiring Royal Marine has recalled how he became a ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ character who ‘thought he had the right to carry a knife’.

Lawangeen Abdulrahimzai, 21, murdered Thomas Roberts, 21, during an argument over an e-scooter in Bournemouth town centre in March last year.

He had been handed a 20-year prison sentence in his absence for killing two people in Serbia, but was granted entry to the UK after telling authorities he was a 14-year-old schoolboy whose parents had been killed by the Taliban.

Abdulrahimzai deceived Border Force and the Home Office so comprehensively that he was placed with foster mother Nicola Marchant-Jones, who told MailOnline today that she had ‘had to accept he was 14’ and had ‘no other way of checking it.’

The custody picture of Lawangeen Abdulrahimzai, 21, following his conviction for murder earlier today

Abdulrahimzai deceived Border Force and the Home Office so comprehensively that he was placed with foster mother Nicola Marchant-Jones (pictured)

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.

But Abdulrahimzai went on to become a street fighter who attacked his foster mother and boasted about his love of knives on TikTok.

Ms Marchant-Jones fostered him from early 2020 to mid-2021 in Poole before he was moved to a different family. 

She earlier told Salisbury Crown Court that Abdulrahimzai was initially a ‘shy, bright lad’ who suffered from ‘night terrors’, but grew into a ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ personality after being caught with knives several times.

And speaking to MailOnline today, she said he left her care after becoming violent.

The foster mother said: ‘All of this has come as such a shock to me. I wasn’t aware of any of his background before he came to the UK.

‘Finding out about us previous and now with this case as well has all been very distressing for me and I’m just so shocked considering how he was when he was initially placed with me.

‘When he first came he was quite a shy gentle boy but then all of a sudden he changed, his personality changed completely and he became a very different person.

‘He was spoken to by the police about carrying knives and he seemed to think he had the right to carry a knife to defend himself.’

Ms Marchant-Jones described how Abdulrahimzai would often get into trouble at school for fighting.

She also recalled how during a shopping trip to JD Sports to buy a new coat, she caught the defendant with a knife – which he had taken from her kitchen – and took it from him.

He had made a sheath for the weapon and kept it on his waist. 

But when Abdulrahimzai – nicknamed Lo by Ms Marchant-Jones – was caught with a knife, he was only given words of advice by Dorset Police. 

‘At one point he said he was doing street fighting’, the foster mother added. 

‘He appeared to have lots of money. I didn’t see any money but he was buying nice things. He said he got £100 for ten minutes fighting.’

When he nearly headbutted Ms Marchant-Jones during an argument he was removed from her care.

She added: ‘When I heard he was involved in two murders in Serbia I was just left so shocked by the level of violence – maybe it was down to the the people he was mixing with.

‘But when he arrived to stay with me he barely spoke any English, so it was difficult to get his back story, but after he became more aggressive he moved on and we parted company in August 2021.’

An image of the a knife held by Lawangeen Abdulrahimzai in a video posted on his TikTok page

The Afghan national was today convicted of the murder of aspiring Royal Marine Thomas Roberts (above), 21, outside a Subway sandwich shop in Bournemouth on March 12 last year, having stabbed him twice in the chest with a ’10cm blade’ 

Reports from August 2018 in the Serbian media detailed how the two Afghans were gunned down near the village of Dobrinci – around 50 miles from the capital Belgrade.

Their bodies were left in a field, with police following a theory that it was a feud between rival Afghan gangs over people smuggling routes.

But Abdulrahimzai was granted entry to Britain and was convicted of his third murder today.

On March 12 last year, he stabbed Mr Roberts twice in the chest with a ’10cm blade’ after an argument with his friend about an e-scooter outside a Subway sandwich shop.

The Afghan admitted manslaughter at an earlier hearing, but denied murder and forced a trial. The jury did not believe him.

Opening the case last week, prosecutor Nic Lobbenberg KC told jurors it was a ‘fatal encounter all about a scooter which has cost this boy his life’.

He added: ‘Thomas was the peacemaker, he came between the two men. For his troubles, he received two stab wounds.’

Abdulrahimzai later ‘buried’ the knife, and burnt some of the clothes he was wearing, the court was told. 

A police cordon outside the Subway sandwich shop on Old Christchurch Road in Bournemouth

The police cordoned off Horseshoe Common in Bournemouth following the fatal stabbing in March last year

A court heard Mr Roberts, a DJ, was enjoying a night out with his friend James Medway, 24, when he got into an argument with Abdulrahimzai over an e-scooter outside a Subway sandwich store.

Jurors were told that, moments after intervening in the disagreement, Mr Roberts sustained two stab wounds to his chest from an ‘aggressive’ Abdulrahimzai – with one slicing through his heart.

Firearms officers in balaclavas and full tactical gear swooped on the asylum seeker’s flat 24 hours after the incident and arrested him.

In a video of the raid just after midnight on March 13, an officer can be heard reading him his legal rights as Abdulrahimzai is detained in the hallway of his block of flats in Poole.

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