Double murder trial: Teen says he played ‘no part’ in two killings
Isaiah Popoola said he was at a vigil for his friend Lewis Blackman on night of killings
28 March, 2019 — By Samantha Booth
Abdikarim Hassan was the first young person to be fatally stabbed in one night last year
A FORMER Haverstock and William Ellis School pupil accused of double murder has told a court he played “no part” in the killings of two men in one night.
Isaiah Popoola, 19, said on the night of the fatal stabbings he had been at a vigil for his close childhood friend Lewis Blackman who died two days earlier in west London.
The teenager, of Grafton Way, is one of six standing trial at the Old Bailey accused of various roles in a night of violence, on February 20 last year, across parts of north London.
Abdikarim Hassan, 17, and Sadiq Aadam Mohammed, 20, and died after being stabbed in two separate incidents.
Mr Popoola, a keen footballer who was on a “gap year” from college, told the court how on the night Mr Blackman was stabbed to death, he went to the police cordon in west London.
He said he had known Mr Blackman, from York Way, since they were about 12 or 13 years old and met through a football match.
“We started meeting up, going to parties together, we went on holiday together,” he told the court this morning (Thursday).
Once it was confirmed Mr Blackman had died at the scene, Mr Popoola said with friends they started preparing posters for a vigil on the Peckwater Estate, in Kentish Town.
Two memorials were held on the evenings of February 18 and 19 which 15 to 20 people attended, lighting candles and some saying prayers, he said.
Mr Popoola said he knew Mr Hassan as they went to the same secondary school, William Ellis in Highgate, and they would message over social media.
“I never had a problem with him,” Mr Popoola told jurors.
The prosecution previously said a stolen blue BMW was seen on CCTV driving along Bartholomew Road, in Kentish Town, before pulling over and within seconds, Mr Hassan was attacked. The fatal stabbing was not captured on CCTV and there are no witnesses to the attack itself.
Asked by defence Christopher Henley QC whether he was the driver of the BMW, as the prosecution allege, he said: “I did not play a part whatsoever.”
Sadiq Aadam Mohammed
Mr Popoola said he knew Mr Mohammed from his second secondary school, Haverstock, and would often be at the Samuel Lithgow Youth Centre, in Regent’s Park.
“I wouldn’t say I knew him as well. With AK it was a day to day basis, but with Sadiq he lived in the same area as me,” said Mr Popoola.
Mr Mohammed was dragged from a car he tried to hide in and repeatedly stabbed in Malden Road.
Asked again of his involvement, Mr Popoola said: “I played no part whatsosever and I did not kill Sadiq Mohammed.”
Mr Popoola claims he was at the vigil for Mr Blackman until about 8.40pm on the night of the incidents. He said they saw blue lights from the Bartholomew Road attack so they abandoned the vigil.
Mr Popoola said: “Everyone was just a bit frozen, we could not believe someone had been stabbed and right across from the vigil.”
On finding out later it was Mr Hassan, he said: “Everyone was 100% shocked and hurt. I knew AK quite well so I myself personally was lost for words in a way.”
With three friends, he said they went into the Appleford block and sat in the stairwell for about an hour, before two left to go home and he and another went to another nearby block to a friends’ between 9.40pm and 10pm.
Christian Thomas, 19, and Anuoluwa Temenu, 19, are charged with murdering Mr Hassan. Ben Drummond, 19, of Ingestre Road, and JJ Fatuga, 19, of Clarence Way, are charged with the murder of Mr Mohammed.
Mr Popoola, of Grafton Way, Mr Thomas, of Queen’s Crescent, and Mr Temenu, of Hackney, are also charged with wounding with intent and attempted wounding. Mr Drummond, Mr Fatuga, Mr Popoola and Mr Thomas deny violent disorder.
A 17-year-old boy, who cannot be named due to his age, was acquitted of violent disorder on the directions of Judge Richard Marks QC this morning (Thursday).
Another 17-year-old is also standing trial, accused of assisting offenders.
The trial, expected to last another eight weeks, continues.