Murderer jailed for killing ‘peacemaker’ in club row before fleeing to Northern Cyprus

John Dunne
·3-min read
Killer Tyla Gopaul who fled to Northern Cyprus  (Met Police)
Killer Tyla Gopaul who fled to Northern Cyprus (Met Police)

A man who stabbed a young father to death after a row outside nightclub before fleeing to Northern Cyprus has been given a life sentence.

Tyla Gopaul, 22, knifed Zakaria Abukar Sharif Ali as the 26-year-old tried to act as a peacemaker when an argument flared following a night out in Hackney, the Old Bailey heard.

Mr Ali was fatally wounded after Gopaul set upon his group following a night out in the Rolling Stock bar in November 2018.

Gopaul, from Islington, was on Thursday sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 22 years after fleeing Britain to Northern Cyprus hours after the killing.

He was arrested and returned to the UK on a European arrest warrant. He was convicted on November 20 this year.

Destiny Bannerman, 20, from Holloway, north London, was sentenced to 21 months imprisonment suspended for two years for assisting an offender after helping him escape.

She was also given a three-month electronic tag curfew in addition to a community rehabilitation order.

Witnesses had spotted Gopaul come running toward the group of men shouting “what, what, what”.

He pulled a knife from his trousers and held it in his right hand and began “flaying the knife around” and "lunging" toward the group a number of times, the court had heard.

Detective Inspector Rita Tierney, from the Met’s Specialist Crime Command said: “Tragically, Zakaria was acting as a peacemaker and was trying to calm the situation down. Tyla Gopaul claimed that the fatal injury was an accident, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

“The suffering of Zakaria’s family was prolonged by Tyla Gopaul fleeing the country in a bid to avoid facing justice for his crime. They had to wait knowing that the man responsible for Zakaria’s death had been walking free abroad. My thoughts are with them, as they continue to grieve and I hope today’s verdicts bring them a small measure of comfort."

The victim’s younger sister, Bushra Sharif-Ali, said after Gopaul’s conviction: “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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Man who stabbed stranger acting as peacemaker is guilty of murder