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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Kieren Williams

Two teens jailed for life for stabbing boy, 16, to death in case of mistaken identity

Two teenagers have been jailed for murdering a 16-year-old Afghanistan refugee in a case of mistaken identity.

Vanushan Balakrishnan and Ilyas Suleiman, both 18, murdered Rishmeet Singh and have been locked up for life with minimum terms of 24 years and 21 years respectively.

Rishmeet was killed in Southall, west London, on November 24 2021, after his attackers thought he belonged to a rival gang.

Rishmeet had been forced to flee to the UK with his mother and grandmother after the Taliban murdered his father in April 2019, and then tried to kidnap him.

Around 9pm on the day he died, he had just left his friends after meeting them in a park when he saw two unknown males running towards him.

Vanushan Balakrishna was jailed for life with a minimum term of 24 years (Metropolitan Police)
Ilyas Suleiman was jailed for life with a minimum term of 21 years (Metropolitan Police)

Rishmeet was said to have immediately turned back to his friends, shouting "run, run".

Balakrishnan and Suleiman chased him down and stabbed him 15 times, after Rishmeet tripped and fell, and left him there - the youngster would die at the scene.

The whole attack lasted just 27 seconds.

Rishmeet's mum, Gulinder, described him as her "only child" who had "his whole life ahead of him".

In a statement, she said: "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 as to how and why this happened to my baby boy. I feel I have lost everything and my life is over.

“I will never get over losing him in this way. I will not see him grow up into a young man. I will not see him leave college. I will not see him fulfil his aspirations. I will not see him learn to drive. I will not see him fall in love and get married. I will not become a grandmother and see my son grow old. I have been robbed of so many future events.

Rishmeet fled Afghanistan after the Taliban killed his father and tried to kidnap him (PA)

“Rishmeet was attending college completing a Public Service course and his ambition was to become a police officer, all he wanted to do was to help people. Rishmeet was well loved by all that knew him, he was a faithful boy and was very caring in his nature.

“I have lost my husband and now I have lost my only child, my son. 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.”

Detective Inspector Laura Semple, from the Met's Specialist Crime Command, described Rishmeet as "simply in the wrong place at the wrong time".

She said that Balakrishnan and Suleiman left the flat that day "with the intention of ending someone's life".

Emergency services scrambled to the scene but were unable to save Rishmeet, who died at 10.08pm.

DI Semple continued: “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.

"Between them, they stabbed him 15 times while he was defenceless on the floor. 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."

That day, Balakrishnan, of Waylands, Hillingdon, and Suleiman, of St Jeromes Grove, Hillingdon, who were aged 17 at the time, had spent the day at a flat in Southall with seven other people.

The pair left the flat around 8.45pm on their bikes, having changed their clothes, arming themselves with knives and covering their faces which the jury heard was in an attempt to hide their appearance as they intended to go out and murder someone.

They spotted Rishmeet saying goodbye to his friends and walking off alone and chased after him.

After officers arrested Balakrishnan on December 2, 2021, at his home, they found lyrics with some unique features of Rishmeet's murder - including him running and tripping over.

He had also read news reports of the murder, including tributes from his family and their belief that he was stabbed for the fake Gucci pouch he was wearing - something he disputed, saying it was a gang attack instead.

Suleiman went into hiding after realising he was being hunted by police but was found one week later.

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