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Four men have been jailed for the murder of teenager Kacem Mokrane in Waltham Forest following a lengthy and complex investigation by Met detectives, which saw one officer alone spend more than 500 hours viewing CCTV footage and body worn video to piece together the events leading up to the tragic incident.
Kacem, 18, was killed on November 16, 2017 as part of an ongoing feud between two rival east London gangs.
One of those convicted of his murder is already in prison serving a life sentence for another murder.
Hamza Ul-Haq, 23, was charged with Kacem’s murder in prison, where he is currently serving a life sentence for the murder of Joseph William-Torres just four months after Kacem was stabbed to death on a Walthamstow street.
On Wednesday, he was sentenced to life imprisonment – to serve a minimum of 36 years for Kacem’s murder.
Following Kacem’s brutal murder, Ul-Haq fled to Pakistan where he remained for four months. Within five days of his return to the UK he, and two others, including a 16-year-old boy, gunned down Joseph in Essex Close, E17.
Ul-Haq and three others were found guilty on May 5 of Kacem’s murder.
- Luca Griffiths, 19, of no fixed address, was sentenced to 14 years and four months imprisonment.
- Abdirisak Ali, 26, of Buxton Drive E11 was sentenced to life imprisonment, to serve a minimum of 17 years.
- Kamil Kazmierski, 23, of Acacia Road E17 was sentenced to 16 years imprisonment.
The family of Kacem said in a statement: “This pack travelled around streets of Walthamstow in two vehicles actively looking for “prey”.
“Kacem will never grow old. He will forever be a young man with wings at his feet, whose life was taken in a most horrific manner.”
Kacem’s murder is believed to have been a revenge attack following an incident two days prior in St James’ Street, Walthamstow, during which two of the gang’s associates had acid thrown in their faces in a pizza shop. Simultaneously, in a food outlet next door, Ul-Haq was part of a group also attacked, resulting in one man receiving a stab wound to his chest.
On the night of the murder, police were called at around 9.15pm to Mount Pleasant Road in Walthamstow to reports of an altercation and a group of males armed with weapons including knives, machetes and swords.
Kacem was ambushed by the group, who stabbed him at least twice, before fleeing from the scene.
He was taken to Royal London Hospital where he received emergency surgery. However, following complications, he died in hospital on November 20. A post mortem examination gave cause of death as multi-organ failure caused by hypovolemic shock and complications arising from a stab wound to the abdomen.
One theory is that the group mistakenly thought Kacem was a member of the rival gang who had turned up at the site of the acid attack earlier that day asking for Ul-Haq.
On April 19, 2018 detectives investigating Joseph’s murder carried out a search warrant at Ul Haq’s home address where they recovered a ‘kill list’ containing street names of rival gang members. Detectives believe that included within that list were Kacem and Joseph. However, Ul-Haq had coded their names with other characters indicating that he had already murdered them when the list was created.
On August 16, 2018 officers attended Belmarsh to interview Ul-Haq. He had been charged with Joseph’s murder on May 31, 2018.
The remaining defendants were arrested at various points during the investigation after officers were able to place them at the scene as a result of meticulous analysis of CCTV footage of the incident. Items of clothing worn by the suspects on the night of the attack were recovered when officers carried out searches of their properties.
A further two defendants were acquitted of murder. The trial of a third resulted in a hung jury, for which there will be a retrial.
DI Ben Dalloway, Specialist Crime North, said: “It is an absolute tragedy that yet again a young man has lost his life over such trivial matters. Kacem’s family have had to deal with losing him following a senseless attack, and have then had to live through this trial. My thoughts are with them at this difficult time, and while I hope today’s result is of some comfort to them, they shouldn’t find themselves in this position in the first place.
“I am pleased with the verdict and sentences handed down and hope they demonstrate the Met’s dedication to tackling knife crime – no matter the time that has passed – and ensuring justice is served. Let this be a warning to those young men involved in this type of lifestyle that it rarely ends well.
“It is clear that an incident two days before the murder propelled Ul-Haq and his co-defendants, bent on revenge, into murderous action. Indeed, Ul-Haq was actually picked up on an officer’s body worn video following that earlier incident telling one of his associates that they were going to avenge the attack.
“So we know the group were intent on hunting down a victim that night and had already tried another location without success, prompting witnesses to call in that they had seen a group of men in the street with machetes. Kacem – who had just left home with a slice of pizza after telling his mother he loved her – stood absolutely no chance when he was ambushed by the defendants who ran at him in possession of knives and other weapons.
“This was a particularly complex investigation, involving a number of suspects, numerous crime scenes, and links to other incidents. Regarding the latter, my team spent months piecing together the circumstances of those various other crimes,
“Following the murder, Ul-Haq fled like a coward. But instead of lying low on his return home, he went out and killed another man. It is hard to fathom how someone would be willing to commit two murders in revenge for seemingly minor incidents. It certainly implies intent and a need to let his targets know that he would stop at nothing.
“A chilling hand written list of rival gang members found at his home suggests that his rampage of violence and murder would have continued were he not stopped by officers.”