Killer who stabbed peacemaker to death in fight is jailed for 22 years

Killer, 22, who stabbed peacemaker to death in fight outside London nightclub before fleeing to Cyprus is jailed for 22 years after being extradited back to Britain

  • Tyla Gopaul, 22, fatally stabbed Zakaria Abukar Shariff Ali, 26, in November 2018
  • Attack took place outside the Rolling Stock nightclub in Hackney, north London
  • Gopaul was seen on CCTV running from scene and fled country within 24 hours 
  • He claimed he intended to calm a fight and the victim fell onto his lock-knife

A killer who stabbed a ‘peacemaker’ to death in a fight outside a London nightclub, before fleeing to Cyprus with the help of a teenage girl, has been jailed for 22 years.

Tyla Gopaul, 22, stabbed Zakaria Sharif Ali, 26, as clubbers spilled out of the Rolling Stock nightclub in Shoreditch in the early hours of November 24, 2018.

The pair had met at the bar earlier in the evening and appeared ‘amicable,’ even shaking hands, jurors heard.

Mr Ali was on his way home when one of his friends had a scuffle outside the venue with Gopaul’s associate Lee Haydon.

Tensions had just been eased by the victim, who stood between them telling them: ‘Boys, leave it, it’s not worth it.’

But Gopaul plunged his blade into the father-of-two’s stomach after storming into the group shouting: ‘What, what, what,’ the court was told.

Tyla Gopaul, 22, (pictured) has been jailed for 22 years after murdering ‘peacemaker’ Zakaria Abukar Shariff Ali, 26, outside the Rolling Stock nightclub in Hackney, north London in November 2018

Shortly after the killing, Gopaul met female friend Destiny Bannerman, 20, who helped him catch a flight to Turkey and then to Northern Cyprus the same day.

He stayed on the island in the sun working as a baker until he was extradited on  November 5 last year and charged with murdering Mr Ali.

Gopaul admitted manslaughter before the trial but denied murder.

He said he had not intended to stab anyone but the victim fell onto his knife during the brawl outside the club.  

Asked why he fled the country after the killing, Gopaul replied: ‘I don’t know, I was scared.’

Today, Judge Anthony Leonard jailed Gopaul for life with a minimum term of 22 years and told him: ‘At the time you habitually carried a knife.

‘At the age of 13 you were committing burglaries by the age of 15 you were sentenced for robberies.

‘It was a tragedy that Zakaria Ali was an unintended victim and was stabbed by you rather than the intended victim.

‘There is only one sentence I can pass on you which is one life imprisonment.’

Turning to Bannerman, he said: ‘You pleaded guilty on the basis that you knew Gopaul had stabbed someone but not that he had died.

‘At the time you were helping Gopaul you realised these were serious circumstances and the stabbing had caused very serious injury which might have significant consequences for the person.’

Bannerman gasped ‘Oh God’ as her sentence of 21 months imprisonment was suspended for two years. She fell backwards in the dock and had to be helped to her feet by a dock officer.

The family of Mr Ali remained silent as the sentences were passed.

Anthony Orchard, prosecuting, said: ‘The CCTV evidence suggests he armed himself before heading into Waterson Street.

‘The defendant in his evidence claims what happened was an accident with Zakaria being pushed into him and onto the his knife. We suggest that is plainly untrue.

After a verbal dispute was taken out into the street, Zakaria (pictured) managed to calm the situation before Gopaul ran around the corner and stabbed him in the stomach

Destiny Bannerman, pictured at the Old Bailey today, fell backwards in the dock and had to be helped to her feet by a dock officer as her sentence was read out

‘He produced his lock-knife when no-one else had a weapon let alone a knife. He denies ever having any intention of causing injury with it. We know now that there has been two previous occasions were he has admitted carrying knives with the intent of causing injury.

‘On one occasion he was carrying a lock-knife similar to the one used on 24 November.

‘The main point here is what actually happened. What the witnesses saw and the CCTV. The prosecution case is that Tyla Gopaul went out that night having deliberately armed himself.

‘You do not arm yourself with a knife unless you are prepared to use it. He stabbed Zakaria in the abdomen- his decision. He knew what he was doing. This was no accident.

‘It was the deliberate use of a weapon to cause really serious injury. Gopaul then threatened anyone who came near him with the knife before running away.

‘He (Zakaria) had just tried to act as ‘peacemaker’ during an argument between two youths. His life was pronounced extinct at 08:39 hours that morning. His attacker was the defendant, Tyla Gopaul.

‘After the stabbing Tyla Gopaul ran off. He met up with a female friend, Destiny Bannerman, shortly afterwards. Later that day preparations were made by Tyla Gopaul to leave the United Kingdom; he was assisted in making them by Destiny Bannerman.

‘He caught a flight to Turkey that evening and then travelled onward to Northern Cyprus. He was arrested on his return to London a year later, on 5th November 2019.’

Gopaul, of Frampton Park Road, Hackney, admitted manslaughter but denied murder.

He was jailed for life with a minimum term of 22 years.

Bannerman, of Ilford High Street, admitted assisting an offender.

She was sentenced to 21 months imprisonment suspended for two years.

Judge Leonard also required her to be on curfew for three months between 8PM to 6am. 

Bannerman, 20, from Ilford, (pictured) Bannerman gasped ‘Oh God’ as her sentence of 21 months imprisonment was suspended for two years. She had earlier pleaded guilty to assisting an offender

The Old Bailey trial heard that a verbal exchange had taken place between two men – Lee Haydon and Mohamad Ahmed, known as Hamza.

The pair went to settle their dispute on Waterson Street where the victim had intervened, acting as a ‘peacemaker’.

Anthony Orchard QC, prosecuting, said that the situation had been ‘calmed’, before Gopaul ‘ran round the corner… aggressive and shouting’.

Gopaul produced a knife and ‘plunged’ it into Mr Ali’s stomach.

Mr Ali was treated at the scene and taken to the Royal London Hospital where he underwent surgery, but died later that day from his injury.

Giving evidence, Gopaul claimed he had gone ‘to make sure there wasn’t a fight and… to calm everyone down’.

Gopaul said he then pulled out a lock-knife to scare Hamza when he was knocked towards Mr Ali who had ‘fallen on the knife’.

He told jurors: ‘I wasn’t trying to stab (Mr Ali), he was the peacemaker – I wasn’t trying to stab anyone.’ 

Zakaria was the oldest of seven children, and Bushra Sharif-Ali his youngest sister, said in a statement: ‘We all looked up to Zakaria. 

‘He was the nicest, kindest, and the most helpful person you could ever wish to meet. As crazy as it sounds me and all my other siblings would fight and argue just like siblings do, but he would never.

‘With us, he was the older brother who looked out for us all; he was very protective of us all, he was our role model.

‘Zak was twenty-six years old and married with a six-year-old son and a three-year-old daughter.

‘They both adored Zak, they loved him so much. His eldest is aware that his dad is gone, every night he prays to God and tells him to protect his dad. Knowing his children will never know how much he loved them breaks my heart.

‘When we, as a family, lost Zakaria, I can’t even begin to explain how we were all feeling, it felt unreal.

We couldn’t believe he was gone. At that moment, it felt like our whole world had stopped.

‘I am grateful to have known my brother for all my years, I wish I could have a lifetime with him. I struggle every day to understand why this happened.’ 

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