'Lessons to be learned': Council response after asylum seeker guilty of murder

Lawangeen Abdulrahimzai, left, was found guilty of murdering Tom Roberts. During the trial, images of the defendant with a knife, top right, and assaulting a man in Bournemouth, bottom right, were shown to the jury <i>(Image: Dorset Police)</i>
Lawangeen Abdulrahimzai, left, was found guilty of murdering Tom Roberts. During the trial, images of the defendant with a knife, top right, and assaulting a man in Bournemouth, bottom right, were shown to the jury (Image: Dorset Police)

BCP Council has accepted there are “lessons to be learned” after an asylum seeker murdered a young man in Bournemouth town centre.

Lawangeen Abdulrahimzai told authorities he was 14 when he arrived in the UK in December 2019.

After reporting himself to be a youth when he arrived at the Port of Poole, he was taken into care as an unaccompanied child asylum seeker.

Abdulrahimzai, who was determined to be 21 by a judge at a pre-trial hearing, was found guilty of murdering Tom Roberts following a two-week trial at Salisbury Crown Court yesterday.

Read more of on the outcome of the murder trial here

During the trial it was heard that the defendant was placed in school in the area and he had got into fights with other pupils.

No formal age assessment was ever carried out on the defendant despite reports being made to social services following comments from a dentist and paediatrician to foster parent Nicola Marchant-Jones, the trial was told.

The court heard police and social services had spoken to Abdulrahimzai after he was caught in possession of a knife by Ms Marchant-Jones while he was under her care between January 2020 and August 2021.

Bournemouth Echo:
Bournemouth Echo:

A BCP Council spokesperson said: “This a tragic incident and our thoughts are with Mr Roberts’ family.

“Everyone living in our community should feel safe – whether that’s long-term residents or those seeking asylum.

“Cases like this are extremely rare. The BCP and Dorset area remain a safe place for our communities with some of the lowest crime rates in the country.

“In light of this case there are lessons to be learned. We are working with the relevant Government departments and agencies to identify where improvements can be made throughout the national process of assessing and placing asylum seekers."

The council said it is working with the Home Office and have provided extra support to manage age assessments when individuals arrive in the BCP area.

The local authority said it followed all relevant guidance, regulations and procedures throughout the time Abdulrahimzai was in the conurbation.

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