‘I need justice for my son’: Family’s anguish at sentence for killer of East Ham man
- Credit: Archant
On the night of June 29 last year, 28-year-old Fuadi Mohamed was stabbed to death and died in his mother’s arms, in front of dozens of witnesses. Now his devastated family are calling for an inquiry into how police handled the case. Hannah Somerville reports.
The front doorstep of the Mohamed family's home in Wakefield Street, East Ham has been scrubbed clean.
But for Kazala Mohamed, 48, nothing will erase the image of her son Fuadi bleeding to death on that doorstep on June 29 after he was stabbed up to 19 times in a frenzied attack by a neighbour.
The killing rocked a community and tore two families apart.
The moments leading up to Fuadi's death play out in his mother's head every day. She tried to get between Fuadi and his killer but to no avail.
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The family's grief and rage is compounded by what they allege was mishandling of the case by the Metropolitan Police.
Fuadi's killer, Muhammed Hussain, is serving four years in prison for Category C manslaughter - the lowest level of culpability for a killing.
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The family has filed a complaint with the Independent Office for Police Conduct and the Crown Prosecution Service referred the case to the Attorney General as the outcome was, it said, considered "unduly lenient".
For Fuadi's family, though, only a public inquiry and a re-opening of the Met's investigation will do.
"Before this," Kazala told the Recorder, "I trusted the police. The case was handled wrongly. All the evidence was there.
"My son had a criminal record but he didn't deserve this. He was a young man and had his life in front of him. And his killer has got four years."
Fuadi was born in East Ham and attended Hartley Primary School and Langdon Secondary School.
He suffered from schizophrenia and in February 2018, had been an accomplice during a vicious acid attack in Burges Road. The attacker, Muhammed Al-Ali, was convicted of throwing a noxious substance with intent to maim and sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Fuadi was charged for his part in the attack and was on bail with an electronic tag, due to stand trial in 2020.
At the time of his death he was living in Wakefield Street and devoting all his time to family, his mother says.
"Everyone in the street knew him. He loved everyone and helped everyone, and liked the area here. He spent all his time playing with the children."
On June 29, one of the hottest days of the year, most of the family had gone to Brighton for a night by the sea.
Fuadi stayed behind and went to a restaurant with his partner of nine years, Farida Elnoor, before returning home.
At 10.30pm he went to the front door to smoke and chatted on the pavement with two girls in a car, whom police never located.
Muhammed Hussain, 23, a neighbour in Wakefield Street for around 20 years, then returned home from Friday prayers.
An argument broke out - according to witnesses, it was about Fuadi smoking in the vicinity of Hussain's house.
During the row Hussain went into his home and returned with a knife.
"His mum and sister tried to stop him," says Kazala, her eyes filling with tears. "He had a big knife in his hand."
"I put myself in front of Fuadi. Muhammed Hussain dragged him out from behind me and stabbed him, then followed him to my door and stabbed him again."
Despite paramedics' efforts Fuadi was pronounced dead at the scene.
Hussain handed himself in to Forest Gate Police Station the next day and was arrested on suspicion of murder.
In the aftermath, Fuadi's grandmother had a heart attack and endured nine-hour surgery at Newham General Hospital.
Fuadi's body was released by the coroner in July. The post-mortem counted 19 stab wounds, later revised to 15.
Ahmed Mahmood of East London Mosque was tasked with washing Fuadi's body before his burial, in accordance with Islamic tradition.
"His neck was broken," he told the Recorder. "There was a finger-sized hole through his spine. There were two stabs on his right arm, one on his left.
"He was brutally stabbed. No person deserves to die that way. I was terrified when I saw it; I didn't know what else to do."
Police took CCTV footage of the killing and statements from scores of witnesses, including bystanders on the way home from the mosque.
But on October 23, Kazala says, a PC knocked on her door and asked her to sign an agreement, saying that she would accept a charge of manslaughter. Shocked, she refused, and made a complaint.
"They told me he had agreed to plead guilty to manslaughter," she said. "I said, why? And they said, don't be surprised if he walks free from court. I said, how is that?".
Officers, she said, told her they had found the murder weapon but later told her it could not be located.
Immediately after the stabbing Hussain fled in a friend's silver Vauxhall Astra to an address in Canning Town, where he left his phone.
The friend who drove him, the family said, was never questioned or called as a witness in court.
Hussain's trial was listed for two weeks at the Old Bailey in December but finished in five days. Hussain pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the first day and was found not guilty of murder on Monday, December 16. He was sentenced to four years in prison.
Partner Farida Elnoor, 28, said: "This was an injustice. They wanted to do a deal before the trial had even started and he's going to walk out next year.
"Fuadi was my best friend. Without him I am so lost; I have no one to turn to. He was there for me no matter what. I don't know how I'm supposed to live without him."
Fuadi's family have insisted the version of events put forward in court was not correct. They have launched a petition for a public inquiry that was signed by 1,195 people in the first two weeks.
One of the signatories was local cafe owner Naseem Walimohamed. She says she has fond memories of Fuadi, a regular at Coffera in Pilgrims Way.
"He used to do my shopping when I was busy and would give older people a hand getting over the step," she says.
"Customers were stunned by what happened. I miss him so much. Justice has not been done and I don't have a clue why; it's all a mess."
Cousin Hanea Habib, 16, is sleeping every night with her "Justice for Yardi" - a family nickname for Fuadi - T-shirt on.
"I think of him every minute," she says. "He was a giver and he looked after me. It's like there's a part of me missing."
In January the family appealed to the Met for their CCTV footage back. They are also waiting for the jury bundle to be provided to them.
Instead they were given a letter from the CPS, dated January 2.
Louise Attrill, senior crown prosecutor, wrote that cases can be passed to the Attorney General for review "where a sentence passed is considered unduly lenient" - and confirmed that she had done so.
In the coming weeks Kazala Mohamed is also due to meet with Claire Waxman, the Victims Commissioner for London.
A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: "On Monday, January 6 a complaint relating to the investigation into the death of Fuadi Mohamed was referred by the Independent Office for Police Contact to the MPS.
"The complaint is being investigated. At this time, no officers have been suspended or placed on restricted duties."