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Four jailed for at least 38 years over ‘horrific’ double murder

Saydi Abu Sheikh died from gunshot wounds after an attack in in Ilford, east London, in October 2022 (Metropolitan Police/PA)
Saydi Abu Sheikh died from gunshot wounds after an attack in in Ilford, east London, in October 2022 (Metropolitan Police/PA)

Four men have been jailed for at least 38 years for murdering two rappers who were stabbed and shot in a “horrific” gang-related revenge attack.

The gang stormed into a house in Ilford, east London, armed with four guns and knives and killed Saydi Abu Sheikh, 23, and Zakariya Jeilani Mohamed, 31.

Some 45 shots were fired and Mr Sheikh was “butchered” during the midnight raid on October 25 2022.

Rappers court case
Zain Mirza (Metropolitan Police/PA)

A third man, Khalid Khalid, was shot through the head but survived, along with two more men who ran or hid.

The murders were orchestrated by Zain Mirza in revenge for the killing of his brother in 2019.

Chibuike Ohanweh, 21, Ayaanle Adan, 20, and Mahad Gouled, 22, carried out the carnage, with Mirza nearby.

Following a trial at the Old Bailey, they were all found guilty of double murder, two charges of attempted murder and perverting the course of justice.

On Tuesday, Judge Mark Lucraft KC sentenced them to life with a minimum term of 38 years.

He told them: “I’m entirely satisfied that the events were the culmination of a carefully planned retaliation attack for the killing of Mohammed Usman Mirza.

“You were each involved in planning and carrying out this horrific attack.”

Ohanweh, from Romford, Adan, from Barking, Gouled, from Enfield, and Mirza, of Newham, were also handed life sentences for the attempted murders and six years for perverting the course of justice to run concurrently.

A fifth defendant, Zakarie Mohamad, 19, of Kensington, was sentenced to four years in a young offenders institute after he pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice.

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Ayaanle Adan (Metropolitan Police/PA)

Judge Lucraft said the offence was aggravated by the level of planning that went into it.

The attackers had donned burkas to hide their identities when they set off from a “mission” base flat a couple of miles away.

They travelled to the murder scene in a stolen Mitsubishi Outlander which was set on fire minutes afterwards, destroying all but one of their discarded robes.

Judge Lucraft said: “What took place on the night of October 25th into the early hours of October 26th 2022 was very well orchestrated and planned.

“This is, all too sadly, yet another example of gang rivalry and violence played out on the streets of London.

“Two more young men killed, one young man left with life-changing injury, another lucky he only received a single gunshot wound, and this court sentencing more young men to lengthy terms in custody.

“Each of you has sought to distance yourself from what took place by saying you were not involved and some blaming other members of your gang. Two of you claimed to be elsewhere.

“As the verdicts show, your lying accounts have been comprehensively disbelieved.”

Judge Lucraft noted a “chilling” remark as Mr Sheikh was attacked, with one saying: “He is not dead yet – finish him, stab him, kill him.”

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Chibuike Ohanweh (Metropolitan Police/PA)

He said Ohanweh and Mirza had been on licence at the time and Adan subject to a community order.

In a statement, Mr Sheikh’s family said he “put a smile on countless faces”.

They said: “His untimely murder has left an irreplaceable void in our lives.”

Mr Mohamed’s family said losing their “beloved Zakariya” had “cast a long, dark shadow on our family”, adding: “Our hope is that over time we can find a new normalcy.”

In their victim impact statement, Mr Khalid’s family said: “The journey of his recovery became a tumultuous odyssey.

“The person he once was has been altered by a brain injury. Despite the hardship, we are immensely grateful that he is still with us today.”

Mitigating, David Etherington KC said Mirza’s father had written a statement to express his sorrow for the murders his son helped to commit.

In the letter, the defendant’s father said: “No parent should have to bury their child. I speak from experience when I say it is the hardest thing any parent can do.”

Tom Forster KC, for Adan, acknowledged the murders were the “most appalling example of the most grotesque violence”.

But he said a report had confirmed Adan’s diagnosis of ADHD and suggested the defendant’s age and maturity as mitigating factors.

Stephen Kamlish KC, representing Mohamad, said the defendant had been “criminally exploited”, “humanly trafficked” and was a victim of modern slavery.

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Mahad Gouled (Metropolitan Police/PA)

Following the sentencing, Metropolitan Police Detective Chief Inspector Chris Wood, who led the investigation, said: “The three men who entered the house were identified through forensic examination of the recovered clothing as Adan, Gouled and Ohanweh. Each was armed with a gun and at least 41 shots were fired inside the house.

“Zain Mirza facilitated the murder. He was linked to the gunmen after extensive police inquiries established that a rented address in Durham Road, Manor Park, had been used as a base to plan the murder.

“It is believed he planned the fatal attack as he understood at least one person present at the Henley Road address was in some way connected to the murder of his brother.”