Row as murderer speaks to pupils from prison

Haunted: Essakhil, now aged 20, admits he was always getting into fights and bullying the ‘nerds’.

Should a murderer in jail be given a platform in schools? West Midlands Police yesterday showed children a video of killer Sadam Essakhil warning against knife crime. Not all are happy.

It is 3am on 31 May, 2015. Sadam Essakhil, 16, and his 18-year-old friend Abdullah Atiqzoy are walking down a dark, Birmingham street. As the pair head towards the dim lights of an all-night supermarket, they bump into two Polish men coming from the other direction.

A fight breaks out between them. Essakhil and Atiqzoy are carrying knives — for self-defence, they later claim. Within seconds, Lukasz Furmanek lies bleeding, dying on the pavement. Joseph Dudek is critically injured with stab wounds.

“Sudden, shocking and brutal.” That was the description at the trial.

Essakhil was sentenced to life. He has another 15 years behind bars before he is eligible for parole; Atiqzoy must serve another 26 years.

Speaking from his cell as part of a new West Midlands Police knife crime campaign, Essakhil says, “From a young age, I was getting into fights and stuff like that, and I never really thought I’d have anyone I can rely on.”

“If I could actually go back I’d be a different person. I’d be that nerd in the class that people like me used to bully.”

“I’d be that person because that person is probably somebody now — he’s probably got a job, probably keeping his family happy.”

“A man once told me: ‘Ah Sadam, what you doing with your life?’ And I used to think: ‘Who’s this clown telling me how to live my life? I know better than you.’ ”

“But now, obviously being in jail and having a lot of time to think, I’m thinking I was actually the clown — not him.”

Again and again, surveys show that young people carry knives because they are scared of being attacked. But statistics show knife-carriers are themselves far more likely to be stabbed.

The police decision to give a platform to a convicted murderer has proved highly controversial.

Should a murderer still serving time in prison get a platform to talk to schools? It was even shown at his own former school, where you could hear a pin drop yesterday when the video was played.

A smack in the face to all victims?

“Outrageous!” says Dawn Lewis, whose husband Giovanni died from multiple stab wounds. “Let a bereaved family do the talking and not allow a convicted killer to become somebody special. Why put a convicted knife crime murderer in front of our kids’ schools to talk to kids like my grandchildren, nieces and nephews? I find it insulting he sits there saying if he had his time again, he would be different person. How dare they let him speak from prison, glorifying him.”

But many support the idea. It is a great video, says Kate Bottley, a prison chaplain. “We should hear more stories from prison because, with time to reflect, people have important messages and much wisdom to pass on to society about what led them to their mistakes, and how others might avoid the same path.” Others say that children are far more likely to pay attention to a repentant criminal than a victim. And even if it deters just one young person from carrying a knife, it will have been worth it.

You Decide

  1. Are you concerned about knife crime?
  2. What is the best way to stop young people carrying knives?

Activities

  1. Design a poster giving advice to young people who are tempted to carry a knife.
  2. Should knife crime be treated as a public health issue or as a criminal problem? Research the opposing strategies. In a one page essay, weigh up the pros and cons of each. In your conclusion, decide which is more effective.

Some People Say...

“Violence does, in truth, recoil upon the violent, and the schemer falls into the pit which he digs for another.”

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930), British writer of Sherlock Holmes stories

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
Government statistics from earlier this year show that knife crime has risen by 22% in England and Wales since 2014. In London, it has risen by 36.7%. Since 2010, the knife crime rates in the North East have risen by 33%; in Yorkshire and the Humber, by 77%; and in Wales, by 50% .
What do we not know?
How to solve knife crime. The Government says it is putting 20,000 more police officers on the street, over the next three years. These will replace the 20,000 officers who have been cut since 2010. Lower police numbers have been repeatedly linked to the higher instances of violence crime in recent years.

Word Watch

Joseph Dudek
Dudek recovered from his injuries to give evidence at Essakhil’s trial. Essakhil and Atiqzoy pleaded not guilty, claiming their actions were in self-defence, but they were convicted by a jury.
Eligible
To have a right to something.
Parole
When a prisoner is released before serving their full sentence, if they have behaved well in prison and show remorse for their crime.
Scared
According to the Metropolitan Police, an estimated 75% of young people who carry knives are not involved in gang crime.
More likely
Fights are more likely to escalate if a knife is involved. If you carry a knife, the weapon could be used against you.
Bereaved
To be deprived of a relative or close friend, usually through death.
Prison chaplain
Priest, or representative of a religion, who supports prisoners.
Epidemic
An infectious disease that spreads quickly through a community. According to NHS data, the number of children in England aged 16 being stabbed rose by 93% between 2013 and 2018.

Subjects

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