Afghan asylum seeker who tried to murder a stranger in Tesco is jailed for 19 years

An Afghan asylum seeker who tried to murder a complete stranger while ‘fuelled’ by a desire to kill English people was jailed for 19 years.

Samiulahaq Akbari, 22, was caught on CCTV walking into the Extra in Thornton Heath, south , on January 8.

Akbari tapped a customer on the shoulder and asked for his nationality.

He then took a swing swing at the victim, Mr Speight, with a ten-inch kitchen knife when he said he was from the UK.

Mr Speight managed to kick Akbari off when he leapt on him and miraculously escaped from the scuffle without a mark on him.

Just ten minutes earlier Akbari had pulled a knife on two other men in separate establishments on the same road in Croydon and was said to be ‘fuelled with the same intention’.

Prosecutor Heidi Stonecliffe told jurors: ‘On that evening in January this year this defendant had set out deliberately to threaten, harm and kill members of the public by virtue of their nationality, or what Mr Akbari perceived to be their nationality – they were English.’

Akbari was convicted of attempted murder over the rampage which took place just 12 days after he was released from prison for another assault.

Judge Mark Dennis QC jailed him yesterday for 19 years.

The judge said: ‘The report on you says you have a deep seated fixation which gave rise to serious violent situations when in drink.’

He added of the ‘racially aggravated’ attack: ‘It was pure chance that no serious injuries were caused in the attempts to cause serious harm or killing someone.’

Akbari had first accosted John Hoy as he sat at a table in the kebab restaurant with three friends getting ready to eat having just come from a pool tournament at the pub nearby.

Jurors heard he ‘aggressively and repeatedly’ asked Mr Hoy where he was from before going behind the counter, arming himself with the huge red-handled knife and lunging at him.

One of the men tried to calm Akbari by saying Mr Hoy was ‘one of us’ but it was only when the men fought back that Akbari fled, Ms Stonecliffe said.

Akbari then made his way up to the pub where he confronted Barry Watkins as he was on his way out clutching his pool cue.

Jurors were shown CCTV footage of him marching Mr Watkins back inside to a group of men where he similarly demanded to know their nationality.

‘He and his friends replied that they were English, at which point the defendant started lunging at them with the knife,’ Ms Stonecliffe said.

The group ‘perhaps somewhat heroically’ managed to wedge a table between them and the knifeman, forcing Akbari again to flee.

Akbari claimed he was ‘too drunk’ to form any intention to kill but the prosecutor said his actions were ‘deliberate and considered’.

‘He knew exactly what he was doing and he took care not to be caught.’

Ms Stonecliffe read extracts from transcripts of the ‘frantic’ 999 calls made by Akbari’s cousin in which he tells the operator: ‘He said he wants to kill the English people. I can see his eyes, he’s serious.’

In another he pleads: ‘He will do it. He’s trying to run and he will kill someone. Please come quickly.’

Mr Speight described in a statement how he was gripped with fear during the attack and told himself: ‘This was it and I was about to die.’

Giving evidence, Akbari claimed he ‘had not taken his medication’ and was drunk at the time.

He said: ‘My mind was not working properly’.

Akbari arrived in the UK in 2016 after fleeing torture in Afghanistan.

‘I did not come to this country to fight people,’ he said after his conviction.