Government vows ‘robust’ age checks for asylum seekers after Bournemouth murder

Lawangeen Abdulrahimzai, 21, was found guilty of murdering Tom Roberts in Old Christchurch Road, Bournemouth <i>(Image: Dorset Police/BNPS)</i>
Lawangeen Abdulrahimzai, 21, was found guilty of murdering Tom Roberts in Old Christchurch Road, Bournemouth (Image: Dorset Police/BNPS)

THE Government has said it is seeking to put in place “robust” measures to determine the age of asylum seekers arriving in the UK following the conviction of an Afghan man for the murder of a man in Bournemouth.

Lawangeen Abdulrahimzai, who had previously been convicted of murder in Serbia, was found guilty on Monday of the murder of 21-year-old Tom Roberts last year outside Subway in Old Christchurch Road.

The defendant, who arrived in the UK in December 2019, told the authorities at the time of his arrest that he was 16 but it was determined at Salisbury Crown Court that his true age now is 21.

Downing Street described the case as “shocking” and said it underlines the need for “robust age measurement measures”.

Read more on the murder trial in the following articles

A report earlier this month by the Age Estimation Science Advisory Committee said existing age checks – which rely on interviews with social workers – could be supported by “biological age assessment”.

That could include X-rays or MRI scans to determine the development of teeth and bones, although campaigners have questioned whether such methods are either ethical or reliable.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said scientific checks are already in place in other countries and that the UK is now looking to follow suit.

“We are considering the report of the Age Estimation Science Advisory Committee on scientific methods to assess the age of asylum seekers – and resolve the age disputes – which are indeed in place in countries like Norway, Denmark and Sweden,” the spokesman said.

“We are taking this issue very seriously and will come forward with further measures in due course.”

Bournemouth Echo:
Bournemouth Echo:

The Home Office has previously warned that there is a “significant” problem with migrants who have crossed the Channel in small boats lying about their age.

Then home secretary Priti Patel said last year that the introduction of biological tests would stop grown men “masquerading as children” on their asylum applications.

The court heard that Abdulrahimzai stabbed Mr Roberts twice and then fled into Horseshoe Common after Mr Roberts tried to intervene in a dispute between a friend of his and the defendant over an e-scooter.

After delivering its verdict, the jury was told that Abdulrahimzai had previously been convicted in absence of murder following a trial in Serbia and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Abdulrahimzai will be sentenced for the murder of Mr Roberts at Salisbury Crown Court on Wednesday.

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