'Fist-bump' Killers Jailed for a Total of 27 Years

Stabbed 'gentle soul' to death in unprovoked attack in Shepherd's Bush

Two teenagers who celebrated with a fist-bump after stabbing Yusuf Mohamed to death in an unprovoked attack have been jailed for a combined total of 27 years.

18-year-old William Haines, of Cobbold Road, W12, and a 17-year-old, from Hounslow, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were convicted earlier this year after a trial at the Old Bailey. This Thursday (5 March) they received their sentences with Haines getting 17 years imprisonment for murder and possession of points and blades and his 17-year-old associate getting 10 years imprisonment for manslaughter and possession of a bladed article.

On 26 June last year, 18-year-old Yusuf, who was from the Hammersmith area, was walking with friends along Uxbridge Road in Shepherd’s Bush.

Haines and the 17-year-old happened to be at a bus stop when Yusuf walked by on the opposite side of the road near a grocery shop. For no apparent reason, the two crossed the road towards Yusuf, and as they reached the pavement, Haines took out a large knife.

Seeing the imminent attack, his friends ran off but Yusuf did not appear to be aware of what was happening until it was too late.

Haines was the first to reach Yusuf; he had removed a knife from his waistband and he used it to stab Yusuf in the chest, with the knife entering his heart.

While Haines was attacking Yusuf, the 17-year-old took a knife from a rucksack and even though Yusuf was seriously injured and had sought refuge in the grocery store, he advanced on him.

Yusuf was trying to get away, desperately crawling backwards into the shop on his elbows, but the 17-year-old stabbed Yusuf in the thigh as he lay helpless and defenceless on the floor.

Both the attackers ran away, tucking their knives back out of sight, and as they did so, CCTV recorded them on Willow Vale giving each other a congratulatory ‘fist bump’ to celebrate achieving what they had set out to do.

Police and the London Ambulance Service were called but despite all the efforts to save him, Yusuf died at the scene just after 10pm. One of his wounds was later found to be 20cm deep.

No reason for this horrific attack was ever found and there is no evidence to suggest that Yusuf had ever met his killers. There was no argument, and Yusuf was not involved in gangs or criminality. He was not carrying a weapon.

In a victim impact statement, his sister Ayan Mohamed called him a ‘gentle soul’ who was kind and quiet. He had been awaiting his A-level results and was hoping to study engineering at university

An immediate investigation into Yusuf’s murder was launched by homicide detectives from Specialist Crime.

By speaking to witnesses and tracking CCTV, detectives found the route the suspects had used to flee the scene. Haines and the 17-year-old ran into nearby Wormholt Park, W12, and a search by police dog Yomper Bear found a bag containing a knife.

After examination of the DNA found on the knife, it was linked to the 17-year-old and Yusuf.

Yusuf Mohamed who was stabbed in Shepherd's Bush
Stabbing victim Yusuf Mohamed

At about 6am on 30 June 2019 - four days after the murder - a man was walking his dog in Wormholt Park. His dog went into the bushes, and came out carrying a knife in a sheath. DNA found on the knife and sheath was later linked to Haines and the victim.

As a result of the investigation, both were arrested at their home addresses. Haines was arrested on 30 June 2019 and the 17-year-old on 1 July 2019.

Both were interviewed and the 17-year-old declined to answer any questions while Haines denied being involved. Both were charged with murder on 2 July 2019 and were remanded in custody.

Until shortly before the trial, both defendants denied their involvement, with each of their defences being ‘it’s not me, you’ve got the wrong man.’

However, on 18 December 2019, the 17-year-old admitted it was him on the CCTV and he pleaded guilty to possession of a knife and manslaughter on the first day of the trial on Monday, 6 January – but he did not plead guilty to murder with which he was charged because he said that he only intended Yusuf to be caused something less than really serious injury.

The prosecution did not accept the guilty plea of manslaughter and so his trial went ahead.

On the first day of the trial, Haines also had a re-think and admitted that it was him on the CCTV. He admitted that he stabbed Yusuf but said he ‘could not remember it’ because he’d ‘had a drink.’ The prosecution and the jury did not accept this and as a result, Haines was also convicted of Yusuf’s murder in his absence as he had refused to attend court. Haines had been on bail at the time of the attack and had previous convictions for knife possession in public.

William Haines

Detective Chief Inspector Rob Pack, from Specialist Crime, who led the investigation, said, “This was a savage and callous attack where a young man was set upon in the street and lost his life in a matter of seconds. To this day, the motive for the killing is unclear. Both defendants clearly felt they could carry and use knives with impunity. That they congratulated themselves with a fist bump and smiles having so brutally taken a life is beyond comprehension.

“Today’s conviction brings justice for Yusuf and his family and, again, highlights the Met’s determination to tackle the scourge of knife crime.”

Sarah Dale, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said, "This devastating, cowardly and unprovoked attack has led to the death of an innocent 18-year-old who had so much to look forward to in life.

"On what should have been a routine walk to the nearby shop for some milk, Yusuf was set upon for no apparent reason.

"Armed with knives and in the violent way that these defendants attacked him, there could be no doubt as to their deadly intentions. After they fatally stabbed Yusuf, they fist-bumped in callous celebration.

"Nothing can take away the pain that Yusuf's family and friends must be feeling, but we hope these convictions provide them with some level of comfort at this distressing time."

March 6, 2020