Azzam Raguragui's killer sentenced to seven and half years

Protest calling for justice for Azzam Raguragui outside the Criminal Courts of Justice. Photo: Collins Courts
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Michael McAleer

The teenage killer who stabbed 18-year-old Azzam Raguragui to death during a fight over a stolen bicycle has been sentenced to seven-and-a-half years' detention.

Mr Justice Paul McDermott delivered the sentence this afternoon after hearing emotional statements from the deceased's parents Hajiba and Abdul and his cousin Younes Talibi.

Azzam's parents Hajiba and Abdul said they wanted to do something good for their communities when they moved to Ireland. They are proud of what their children have achieved. Hajiba repeatedly asked why her "kind" son was taken from her in an argument over a bicycle, "something cheap". She said she wants justice for her "loving, kind, gentle, well-behaved, faithful and loyal son" and accused her son's killer of having "no regard for human life".

Abdul said that he can't get the image out of his head of the killer on CCTV celebrating and "high-fiving" with friends after the fatal attack. "In addition to losing my son in a heinous crime I also lost myself, my wife and two kids as we have never been the same," he said.



The parents of Azzam Raguaragui at their son's funeral in the Islamic Cultural centre of Ireland, Clonskeagh. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins


The 17-year-old defendant, who cannot be identified because he is a minor, was found not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter by a jury in September. He had previously offered to plead guilty to manslaughter. However, the Director of Public Prosecutions rejected the plea. His mother, father and brother joined the defendant for a group hug after the judge delivered his sentence.

The victim, Azzam Raguragui (18), died after the defendant stabbed him five times during a melee in Finsbury Park, Dundrum, Dublin 14 on May 10th, 2019. The trial heard that one of the wounds severed an artery and caused massive blood loss which led to his death.

Mr Justice McDermott today said that the jury's verdict means that the prosecution had not proved beyond reasonable doubt that the accused inflicted the fatal wound after Mr Raguragui fell to the ground having tried to run away from the fight. He said the fatal wound was inflicted in the midst of a violent and frightening fight involving two groups of teenagers and that the accused believed he was acting in self-defence or in defence of his friends.

However, the judge said that the accused brought the knife, adding: "Any person who equips themselves with a dangerous weapon like this and uses it in the circumstances described can only expect a court to view that as a seriously aggravating factor."

Callous disregard


A further aggravating factor was his failure to seek assistance although he knew he had repeatedly stabbed and wounded Mr Raguragui. He showed a "callous disregard to the predicament of the deceased at the time," the judge said.

He also noted that the defendant pursued Mr Raguragui having already inflicted the fatal wound, and assaulted him in a "cowardly" way while Mr Raguragui lay in the foetal position on the ground.

He further pointed to the defendant's attempt to dispose of evidence by throwing away the knife and CCTV footage which showed him assembling with friends shortly afterwards where "he does not appear to be in any way shocked or to regret what he had done. He did not know at that stage that the wounds were fatal, but what he had done was in any view shocking and disturbing."

Mitigating factors

Mitigating factors included his early guilty plea, cooperation with gardai in helping them to retrieve the knife and his young age at the time of the offence.

In his statement Abdul Raguragui broke down frequently as he described how proud he is of his eldest son, a "caring and loving" boy with a "great personality" who supported his parents and siblings. He said: "He was handsome, athletic, funny, honest and truly enjoyed his life. He had a lot of friends who witnessed his respect and kindness."


He added: "The first thing everyone would notice about Azzam was his smile. I never remember him without that smile, he was the light of the house. The brightness in every room. But suddenly that brightness is now gone."


He said he is haunted by his son's final moments, "a short, sharp knife shredding his body," and by the CCTV footage showing his son's killer celebrating and "high-fiving" with friends after the fatal assault.

"His precious life can never be returned," he said. "His chair will always be empty around our dinner table. I will have to take my wife and kids to an empty graveyard with only memories left of a kind and faithful and loyal son with a smile that I won't get to see any more."

Who can do that? It's not a human, it's an evil because he didn't do anything wrong

He said he still has sleepless nights and will never forget the way "an innocent boy was tortured and murdered".

Mrs Raguragui said it is hard to talk about her loss, adding: "Azzam was always a loving, kind, gentle, well-behaved, faithful and loyal son who comes from an excellent family, well respected in the Muslim community and in Irish society. His friends named him 'Smiley' as he always had a beautiful smile on his face." He supported people in need, she said, volunteering to work with elderly people in his neighbourhood and even clearing their driveways of ice and snow during the winter.

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She described seeing Azzam in hospital, "covered in blood from head to toe. I couldn't believe that was my handsome son." She wondered how she would tell her family that her innocent son was dead. She asked: "Who can do that? It's not a human, it's an evil because he didn't do anything wrong."

She said that her dream when she came to Ireland was that her children would succeed and she is proud of what they have achieved. But Azzam's dreams have all gone away. She said words cannot express the depth of her family's loss, adding: "It's hard for a mum to bury a son."

"It's not fair," she said. "Why? he didn't do anything wrong."


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