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. They bump into two Polish men coming from the other direction.

A fight breaks out. 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.

Essakhil was sentenced to life in prison. 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.”

“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.”

“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 […], 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 more likely to be stabbed.

The police decision to hear from a convicted murderer has proved highly controversial.

Should a murderer still serving time in prison get a platform to talk to schools?

A smack in the face to all victims?

“Outrageous!” says Dawn Lewis, whose husband died from stab wounds. “Let a bereaved family do the talking [...]. Why put a convicted knife crime murderer in front of our kids’ schools to talk to kids?”

But many support the idea. It is a great video, says Kate Bottley, a prison chaplain. “We should hear more stories from [prisoners…they] have important messages […] to pass on to society about what led them to their mistakes” and how to avoid them. Others say that children are far more likely to pay attention to a repentant criminal than a victim. And 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?

Activities

  1. Design a poster giving advice to young people who are tempted to carry a knife.

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%.
What do we not know?
How to solve knife crime. The Government says it is putting 20,000 more police officers back on the street, over the next three 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 regret 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 to be stabbed
Fights are more likely to get worse if a knife is involved. If you carry a knife, the weapon could be used against you.
Controversial
Causes a lot of disagreement.
Bereaved
To lose a relative or close friend, usually through death.
Repentant
Sorry, regretful.
Epidemic
An infectious disease that spreads quickly. According to NHS data, the number of children in UK aged 16 being stabbed rose by 93% between 2013 and 2018.

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