Afghan accused of murder in UK cries as he describes how Taliban killed his parents

Lawangeen Abdulrahimzai was charged with the murder of a man in Bournemouth after an argument over an e-scooter

A screenshot of Lawangeen Abdulrahimzai on a bus in Bournemouth. PA
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An Afghan asylum seeker accused of murdering a British man over an argument about an e-scooter has told a court his parents were killed by the Taliban.

Lawangeen Abdulrahimzai is charged with the murder of 21-year-old Thomas Roberts outside a sandwich shop in Bournemouth in the early hours of March 12 last year.

It is alleged Mr Abdulrahimzai stabbed to death “peacemaker” Mr Roberts who intervened during a dispute over a hired Beryl scooter between the defendant and Mr Roberts' friend.

On Monday, Mr Abdulrahimzai, originally from Afghanistan, began to give evidence in his defence at Salisbury Crown Court.

He described his parents being killed when the Taliban planted bombs at his family home, as they suspected them of colluding with American forces.

“I have seen some explosions not very far away. There was an American base not far from where we lived and the Taliban would come and demand things and there would be fighting and gunshots,” he told the jury.

“They used heavy weapons like rocket launchers. They planted bombs around my house, I was at my uncle’s house at the time, when I came home my parents were dead. I saw their body parts and a lot of blood.”

After briefly breaking down in tears, Mr Abdulrahimzai said he was then captured and tortured by the Taliban for up to three weeks before being dumped and left for dead on the side of a road.

The jury in the trial of Lawangeen Abdulrahimzai were shown a screenshot of him on the night of the murder. PA

The jury was shown photographs of scarring all over his body which he said was caused by the torture, during which he was beaten with the butts of rifles and injured with knives.

However, a passer-by rescued him, tended to his wounds and put him back in touch with his uncle, who arranged for him to leave Afghanistan.

He first went to Serbia via Pakistan and Iran in October 2015, before arriving in Norway with a friend he considered to be an adopted brother.

Mr Abdulrahimzai then left Norway and spent some time in Italy and Serbia. He applied for asylum in Norway, but when his application was refused in December 2019, he left out of fear of being deported to Afghanistan.

He arrived in the UK in Poole, Dorset, in the same month and told the authorities he was 16 when he was arrested, but the court has since determined that he is now 21.

Nic Lobbenberg KC, prosecuting, had earlier told the court that Mr Abdulrahimzai does not deny carrying out the stabbing using a knife he had taken with him from home, and has previously pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

He said the defendant is likely to claim he had not intended to kill Mr Roberts and his actions were a result of a “loss of control”.

The jury has been shown CCTV footage of the fatal incident, which Mr Lobbenberg said “was all about a scooter, that cost this boy his life”.

The defendant, who was living in Poole at the time of the incident, denies murder. The trial continues.

Updated: January 16, 2023, 4:06 PM
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