London– Two teenagers have been jailed for murdering a 16-year-old Sikh boy in 2021 who they mistakenly thought belonged to a rival gang in West London, police said.
Vanushan Balakrishnan and Ilyas Suleiman, both 18-year-olds from Hillingdon, were sentenced at the Old Bailey on Wednesday for stabbing Rishmeet Singh to death.
Balakrishnan was sentenced to life imprisonment to serve a minimum of 24 years and Suleiman was sentenced to life imprisonment to serve a minimum of 21 years, the Met Police said.
“Justice is finally served for Rishmeet, but their sentence will never be enough for me. They have taken my whole life away from me and Rishmeet will never come home again,” Rishmeet’s mother Gulinder said in a statement.
Rishmeet, who came to the UK in October 2019 with his mother and grandmother to seek asylum from Afghanistan, was stabbed 15 times while lying defenceless on the ground.
Rishmeet’s father was killed by the Taliban, and shortly after they tried to kidnap the young boy — forcing the family to flee to the UK.
“Rishmeet was an innocent, young 16-year-old who had his whole life ahead of him. He had just spent an enjoyable evening with his friends and was making the short walk home when he was callously chased down and knifed to death by Balakrishnan and Suleiman,” Detective Inspector Laura Semple, from the Met’s Specialist Crime Command, said.
“There is never an excuse to murder someone in cold blood, but this case is made even more tragic by the fact that Rishmeet was wrongly targeted by his attackers,” Semple said.
The court heard that on the night of November 24, 2021, Rishmeet had just left his friends after enjoying a pleasant evening in the park in Southall and was walking home when he saw two unknown males running towards him.
He immediately ran down Raleigh Road in Southall, where he tripped and fell. One of his pursuers then stabbed him at least five times in the back.
Seconds later, the second male also began to stab Rishmeet – at least 10 times, the Met Police said, adding that the attackers then fled, leaving his bloodied and injured body on the ground.
Officers and the London Ambulance Service scrambled to the scene after receiving a 999 call from a member of the public, but despite their best efforts Rishmeet died at the scene.
Enquiries revealed that Balakrishnan and Suleiman dumped their bikes near the bridge and chased after Rishmeet on foot, with Balakrishnan attacking him first followed by Suleiman.
They were captured on CCTV fleeing the scene, and are clearly identifiable from the distinctive clothing and Covid masks they were wearing – including Balakrishnan’s dark trousers with a white stripe behind the knee.
While Balakrishnan was arrested on suspicion of murder at his home address on December 2, 2021, Suleiman was held from an address in Edgware on December 9.
“Rishmeet was my only child, and he had his whole life ahead of him. No words could ever explain or put into context how I have felt since Rishmeet was taken from us. He has been raised with so much love and now he’s gone. I am struggling to understand how and why this happened to my baby boy. I feel I have lost everything and my life is over,” Rishmeet’s mother said.
Rishmeet was attending college completing a Public Service course and his ambition was to become a police officer. (IANS)