CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Abdullahi Hassan: Family speak of stab death heartbreak

Council leader and MP call on government to hold knife crime COBRA meeting

01 August, 2019 — By Samantha Booth

Abdullahi Hassan died in a stabbing on Thursday

TRIBUTES have been paid to a 20-year-old stabbing victim who has been remembered as the “biggest character” of his family.

Abdullahi Hassan, known as Abz to those close to him, died after being attacked at the Alexandra and Ainsworth Estate in South Hampstead on Thursday.

He was pronounced dead in hospital, where his cousin, who was also injured in the incident, was being treated. Abdullahi’s older brother, Mohamed Hassan, 22, told the New Journal: “He was a bubbly person. He was always honest and he would tell you how it is – that’s one of the things I always love about him.”

He added: “Right now we don’t have the words to describe [the impact], it’s surreal. The kids should be burying the parents, not the parents burying the kid. “It’s a huge loss to the family.”

The estate in Boundary Road was taped off by police as neighbours looked on in shock. Abdullahi, a former student at Quintin Kynaston School in Swiss Cottage – now known as the Harris Academy – had moved away from the estate to study business management at the University of Kent in September 2017.

But he came back to London in June last year telling his friends and family that he wanted to do something “more practical” with his life.

Before his death, he was saving up money by working in administration at a care home and had a licence to be employed as a security guard. He would have celebrated his 21st birthday this month.

A close friend, who did not wish to be named, said: “He was the biggest character in the family. It’s not just a loss to the family, it’s a loss to the community. I’ve lost count of the amount of people who have stopped me on the estate and expressed their condolences and telling me stories of ‘oh my god, he used to help me with my shopping’, ‘oh my god, he used to come and say hi to me’.  He’s always had big dreams, he was very, very ambitious.”

The friend added: “He wanted to build a foundation for himself, he’s always had an entrepreneurial spirit, he’s always wanted to save up and start a business of his own, something with his own name on.”

Mohamed, the eldest of five siblings, said: “He was always big on family and he always used to speak about having kids. He was a big gamer, he loved games, and over the past year he’s grown a huge admiration for basketball.”

The family said Abdullahi visited the Kilburn Muslim Welfare Association mosque every Friday, and had a “very strong personal connection with God”.

His friend said he had “no connection in any way shape or form to gangs”, adding: “He’s not been known as anything negative in the community ever, I’d like to stress that. We don’t know the motivation behind what happened, and we’ve got to let the police do their job and that’s where we will get the answers from.”

The friend added: “I think everyone likes to say their family member was innocent, their family member was clean-hearted. “When I used the term clean-hearted to describe Abdullahi as I feel like his heart was too clean for this Earth. I genuinely believe that. I’ve never seen him have a bad intention for anyone he’s ever met, ever. He’d rather just leave you alone than have bad intentions for you.”

Mohamed said: “He never brought trouble to our door.” Police are appealing for witnesses to an earlier altercation in the entrance of South Hampstead railway station at around 5pm. Detective Chief Inspector Simon Stancombe, from the Met’s Specialist Crime team, is leading the investigation.

He said: “I am specifically appealing to anyone who has information about what happened at South Hampstead station. “It was rush hour on the hottest day of the year. I have CCTV which shows lots of commuters nearby.Were you one of them? Did you see or hear what was happening? Please contact us and tell us what you saw. “If you are worried about speaking to police, please be assured that we can work with you in the utmost confidence and sensitivity. We need your help to piece together the events of that day.”

Officers are also investigating an incident of a third man, aged 20, who was found with non-critical stab wounds to the leg on Lancefield Street in neighbouring Westminster about 15 minutes after the fatal stabbing.

Three other men who were arrested have been bailed and a fourth man remained in hospital with injuries sustained during the incident. Amil Choudhury, 20, from Maida Vale, was charged on Monday with murder and attempted murder. He is next due to appear at the Old Bailey in October.

Anyone with informa­tion on the fatal stabbing is asked to call police on 101 quoting CAD 10016/July25 or to remain anonymous call Crime­stoppers on 0800 555 111.

Fresh calls to protect youths after stabbing

A SENIOR councillor said the Town Hall stands ready to support the Somali community after they were impacted again by the loss of a young person.

In a letter to Somali community leaders, Labour cabinet councillor Abdul Hai (below) said: “I want to express my shock and devastation following the terrible news that a young man lost his life last night in a stabbing incident in South Hampstead. This is a shocking act of violence at the heart of our borough. Two other young men were also injured in this incident, and I know I speak for all of us when I say that our thoughts are with their families and friends at this difficult time.”

He added: “On behalf of the council and everyone in Camden, I want to make clear that we stand behind the Somali community today as we confront this tragedy together.”

A meeting with community leaders is expected to take place in the coming days.

In February last year, a 17-year-old and a 20-year-old, both of Somali origin, were fatally stabbed on the same night in different incidents. After the attacks, Camden’s Somali community called for changes to education and policing. The council has recently announced the beneficiaries of £500,000 pledged to fund projects to keep young people safe.

Labour cabinet councillor Abdul Hai

The Somali Youth Development Resource Centre (SYDRC) and the N1C Centre were awarded £40,000 for a project to help reduce school exclusions for children aged between 9 and 12 who may be at risk.

The British Somali Community Centre’s (BSCC) family support project was also awarded £40,000.

Khadija Shireh, director of the BSCC, said: “This is really an unspeakable tragedy to face again and devastating for the Somali community, in particular, and Camden in general. Since the previous series of knife killings in Camden, as a community, organisations, local government and politicians, our primary focus was how to ensure safety for our youth and to tackle the causes behind the loss of young talents. Indeed most of these victims are from disadvantaged communities like the Somali community, one of the most disadvantaged communities with a highest rate of unemployment.”

She added: “While we continue locally to do everything we can to work with families and communities, it is more clear now that we need the central government to do more; they must begin to open their eyes and ears and take the action required to stop the loss of young lives and invest in their safety and futures.”

In a joint statement, council leader Georgia Gould and Hampstead and Kilburn MP Tulip Siddiq said: “It is heart-breaking that someone of that potential was cut short last night. From youth workers in hospitals and custody suites to trauma informed school networks, the whole community is working to keep our young people safe. This is a tragic reminder of how urgent this work is. ”

It added: “The ongoing tragedy of young lives lost in our community can never be normalised. The council, as part of its Youth Safety Taskforce, has been working to focus funding and effort to address the issue of knife crime with 12 new projects.”

They also called on the government to arrange an urgent COBRA meeting, echoing the calls of campaign group Operation Shutdown, who marched through central London after a series of knife killings this year.

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