Two thugs who murdered refugee in mistaken identity attack are jailed

Two thugs who murdered Afghan refugee in mistaken identity attack after he’d fled to Britain when Taliban killed his father are jailed for total of 45 years

  • Vanushan Balakrishnan and Ilyas Suleiman have been jailed for life for murder
  • They chased down and stabbed to death aspiring police officer Rishmeet Singh

Two street gangsters who murdered a 16-year-old Afghan refugee in a case of mistaken identity have been jailed for life.

Vanushan Balakrishnan and Ilyas Suleiman, both 18, stabbed to death Rishmeet Singh after wrongly thinking he belonged to a rival gang in November 2021.

The pair chased Rishmeet down a street in Southall, west London, and stabbed him at least 15 times – including five times in the back – during a 27-second episode of heinous violence.

Rishmeet, an aspiring police officer who fled Afghanistan to escape the Taliban after they killed his father two years earlier, was pronounced dead at the scene a short time later.

Balakrishnan and Ilyas Suleiman, who were 17 at the time of the murder, were today jailed for life with minimum terms of 24 years and 21 years respectively. 

Ilyas Suleiman (left) and Vanushan Balakrishnan, both 18, killed the teenager in a case of mistaken identity after wrongly thinking he belonged to a rival gang in November 2021.

Rishmeet Singh (pictured) was stabbed to death after being chased along a road in Southall in November 2021

The pair, from Hillingdon, were found guilty of murder in March following a trial at the Old Bailey.

In a televised sentencing, Judge Sarah Munro KC told the defendants: ‘This case is yet another tragic example of the needless loss of a young teenager following a violent stabbing on the streets of London.

READ MORE: Boy, 16, who fled to Britain after the Taliban killed his father was stabbed 15 times on the streets of London in mistaken identity attack

‘This case is the more tragic because Rishmeet was an entirely innocent victim.

‘He was described as a good person who would not hurt a fly. He was never involved in any kind of violence. It defies belief you two sought him out to kill him.’

The trial earlier heard how Rishmeet had been enjoying an evening at a park and was walking home when the two unknown males began running towards him at around 9pm on November 24, 2021.

Rishmeet immediately began sprinting towards his friends, who were shouting ‘run, run’.

But he tripped and fell to the floor in Raleigh Road, where one of the two defendants stabbed him five times in the back. The second attacker then stabbed him at least ten times, the court heard.

Police and medics were alerted by a member of the public and rushed to the scene, but Rishmeet was at 10.08pm. 

The attackers were subsequently captured on CCTV fleeing and were identified by their clothing.

Following the arrest of Balakrishnan, police recovered a notebook containing rap lyrics glorifying the murder.

A picture of his blood-stained knife posted on social media after the murder was found on his mobile phone.

In a televised sentencing, Judge Sarah Munro KC told the defendants: ‘This case is yet another tragic example of the needless loss of a young teenager’

The pair, from Hillingdon, were found guilty of murder in March following a trial at the Old Bailey (pictured)

Balakrishnan had a previous conviction for possessing a Rambo knife, for which he was given a referral order in February 2021.

The heinous lyrics and text messages sent between killers after the stabbing 

A review of Balakrishnan’s phone showed that he was reading news reports about Rishmeet’s murder just an hour after the incident.

This included tributes from Rishmeet’s family about his good character and their belief he was stabbed for a fake Gucci pouch he was wearing.

On November 28, 2021, Balakrishnan wrote a note on his phone saying: ‘Saw news statement it says a good yute but he was out with paigions [enemies.]’

‘Stupid media it was a glide not for some stupid s*** he wears’

A ‘glide’ is entering gang territory with the intention of using violence against a rival gang.

Just six hours before his arrest on December 2, Balakrishnan wrote on his phone: ‘He tripped and got dipped into my dank.’

A notebook later found at Balakrishnan’s home contained the words: ‘Feel my blade rip through his flesh. Bro told me u ready to go on a glide tonight. I was so excited like a kid going to a fun fair ride.’

He also wrote: ‘Tryna push my nank through his lungs. He got left screaming like alvin and the chipmunks and opps running I’m catching up so don’t get cheffed (stabbed) in the back. But 1 tripped and fell he knew it was over when I was swinging by shank.’

Rishmeet, meanwhile, had no involvement in street violence but the defendants mistakenly thought he was part of a rival gang.

The victim had actually fled Jalalabad in October 2019 to escape the clutches of the Taliban, who killed his father and had attempted to snatch Rishmeet himself. 

When his mother and grandmother brought him to what they believed was the safety of the UK, he enrolled in a Public Service course with the hope of becoming a police officer as he wanted to help people. 

Detective Inspector Laura Semple said: ‘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.

‘Balakrishnan and Suleiman left the flat that day with the intention of ending someone’s life. Poor Rishmeet was simply in the wrong place, at the wrong time.’

His mother Gulinder told reporters: ‘I just want to say I do not know what my child has done that they killed him in this way.

‘My son has got proper justice. I do not want these people to come out. I want them to stay inside.’

She added: ‘Rishmeet was my only child, and he had his whole life ahead of him. 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.

‘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.

‘His brutal and untimely death has taken away my lifeline as Rishmeet was also my registered carer.

‘I will never recover from this evil act. 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.’

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