Two robbers hunting wealthy victims across London's upmarket districts murdered a young Omani student in a late-night attack close to Harrods department store, a court heard on Tuesday.
The men walked around London for at least 90 minutes before they stabbed and killed Mohammed Al Araimi, 20, as they tried to steal his personal effects during eight seconds of violence in 2019, the Inner London Crown Court heard.
The two launched their attack close to the store moments after Al Araimi had left an Italian restaurant with Nasser Kanoo, a friend and fellow student from King’s College London, the prosecution said.
The court heard the students were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Rahim Al Nazi, 24, a Kuwaiti, and German Arseboon Dilbaro, 23, followed the students into an alley in Knightsbridge to try to steal their watches worth a combined £41,000, prosecutor Anthony Orchard stated.
Al Araimi wore a £34,000 Patek Philippe watch while Mr Kanoo’s Rolex — a birthday gift from his parents — cost £7,000.
The jury on Tuesday watched video of the attack from a security camera which showed Mr Al Nazi grabbing Al Araimi around the throat and stabbing him during a brief struggle. Mr Dilbaro confronted the second man who was stabbed in the back during the melee, said Mr Orchard.
Despite their injuries, the students were able to flee “sprinting at full speed” while being pursued by Mr Al Nazi, the court heard. But Al Araimi collapsed seconds later close to a Christmas tree outside Harrods and Mr Kanoo “could see blood pouring from his friend,” Mr Orchard said.
A passing doctor performed open chest surgery on the victim and was able to restart his heart briefly. But Al Araimi suffered cardiac arrest before he could make it to hospital.
He was declared dead within 40 minutes of the attack in the early hours of December 6, 2019. Mr Kanoo was taken to hospital and released after treatment.
“Unfortunately for them, the two friends, Mohammed and Nasser, were in the wrong place at the wrong time,” said Mr Orchard.
“Both victims were stabbed. Mohammed Al Araimi died less than an hour later. Tragically, he became yet another victim of knife crime.”
The two accused killers were captured on security cameras walking away from the scene, the court was told. A security camera outside a casino filmed them together with their faces clearly visible.
Police traced their movements back through London’s network of security cameras, which showed them setting off together from an area close to Mr Al Nazi’s home, about two kilometres from the scene of the attack.
Over the next 90 minutes, they embarked on a circuitous route of some of London’s wealthiest areas, including Notting Hill and Kensington, before ending up in Knightsbridge, where Al Araimi was killed.
The men walked past hotels, restaurants, bars and clubs on the hunt for victims, the court heard.
“The two defendants had gone out that night looking for a victim or victims to rob,” said Mr Orchard, “their circuitous route to Knightsbridge demonstrating their desire to wait for the right victim or victims in the right location.”
The accused encountered the two victims after they left the Sale E Pepe Italian restaurant and started to head towards Al Araimi’s family home.
Police were unable to identify the attackers and released pictures on January 7, more than a month after the attack, from footage they had gathered from dozens of sites.
Mr Al Nazi handed himself in the following day after seeing his name on social media, the court was told.
Detectives used his phone to identify someone he had been speaking to regularly in the run-up to the killing. The number belonged to Mr Dilbaro, the court heard.
Analysis of signals from the phones was consistent with the two being together as they walked through London to Knightsbridge.
But by the time police went to search for Mr Dilbaro, he had fled to Egypt, the court was told. He travelled to Egypt via Greece some three days after the killing. He was arrested when he returned to the UK in July 2020 on charges of murder and robbery.
The two men deny the charges of murder, grievous bodily harm and attempted robbery. Mr Al Nazi admitted to possession of a knife at the start of the trial, which is expected to last up to four weeks.