Teenager guilty of St Paul's murder
A Bristol teenager faces life imprisonment after being found guilty of murdering a man in a St Paul’s pub.
April Bright, 18, of Wilder Street, St Paul’s, stabbed 35-year- old Mohamoud Hassan in the neck at The Criterion pub following last year’s St Paul’s Carnival.
She had already admitted manslaughter – but a jury at Bristol Crown Court took just over two hours to convict her of a murder charge on Tuesday.
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Bright hunched over and sobbed behind the bulletproof glass in Court Two as the verdict was returned, while members of her family and friends cried in the public gallery.
Having been told Bright had been diagnosed with the condition Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) while in custody but was thought not to suffer from mental illness, trial judge Mr Justice Roderick Evans adjourned sentence until Wednesday to enable him to study doctors’ reports.
The court heard Bright, who was 17 when she committed the murder, had previous convictions for dishonesty, an assault on police, drugs possession and using racially threatening, insulting words or behaviour.
It was claimed during the two-week trial that Bright stabbed Mr Hassan because he was part of a group making “a lecherous nuisance of themselves”.
Richard Smith, QC, prosecuting, told the jury that The Criterion had been packed with carnival-goers partying the night away.
Mr Smith said Mr Hassan, also known as “Tiger” or “Warrior”, had been partying and was in high spirits.
His post-mortem examination later revealed he was twice the legal alcohol limit for driving.
Mr Smith said Bright, who had spent the evening with her boyfriend, friends and family, had also been drinking and had been described as moody, excitable and aggressive.
He said: “She had come to carnival armed with a knife in her tracksuit trousers.
“She had been seen in possession of that weapon.”
Mr Smith said, shortly before the murder, Bright had confronted Mr Hassan in a St Paul’s cafe, warning him not to mess with her and telling him: “You don’t know my people. You don’t know who I am.”
The jury was told a group of Somalian men were touching and talking to women and were perceived as a nuisance.
He said that, when Bright and Hassan crossed paths in The Criterion, Bright produced her blade and stabbed him in the neck.
He told the court: “Mr Hassan emerged from the alleyway, through the bar of the pub, clutching his neck and bleeding profusely.
“He was bleeding from a single stab wound inflicted by the defendant. He was aided by a lady and collapsed on the front step of the pub.”
The court heard that, after pushing her away to where Hassan lay bleeding to death, witnesses heard April Bright say: “Let him die.”
When dabbing tissue to a cut finger in the women’s toilet, she is also claimed to have said: “He assaulted me, he touched me up, f***ing Somalian.”
After the case, friends of Mr Hassan said he was known as Tiger because he was a brave man, who would be first to offer help if anyone needed it.
They said, though he may have been partying that night, he was shy of women and it would not be in his character to touch them inappropriately.
Family friend Prince Abdul Aziz, 39, a community organiser from Easton, said: “His mother wasn’t expecting him to die in England. She was fearing he may die in Somalia but she didn’t think he would be killed in England because he came here to find peace.”
A statement from Mr Hassan’s family said: “The murder of Mr Hassan, to die in such circumstances, was cruel and tragic, not only for his family but for the community of Easton and St Paul’s.
“We are devastated to lose one who was as funny and loving as he was thoughtful.
“Mr Hassan was a fantastic guy who was caring and always interested and enthusiastic and the first to offer help to others.
“He loved to be outside, enjoying the world around him, and he’ll be sorely missed by everyone who knew him.
“While being pleased his killer has been found guilty, this is not a day of celebration.
“We, as a family, are sentenced to a lifetime of sadness for the loss of Mr Hassan.”
“Nothing can ever fill the hole that has been left in our lives.
“We hope that Mr Hassan’s death and the investigation and prosecution that followed will deter others who may wish to harm or kill innocent people.”
The statement added that the family knew Mr Hassan had many friends but they were amazed by the amount of supportive messages they received.
They thanked the police for their help and support involved in the inquiry, especially DC Rob Callaway, who acted as the family liaison officer from the start.