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A 14-year-old Somali refugee raped two Utah women in 2011 gets probation

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THE SALT LAKE TRIBUNE — As he stood at the courtroom podium Monday morning, his hands and legs shackled together, 20-year-old Mohammed Ali Mohammed admitted he did “very, very horrible things” six years ago.

At age 14, the Somali refugee sexually assaulted two women at knifepoint on consecutive nights in Salt Lake City. He attacked one woman who was standing outside of her home, and, on the following night, broke into another woman’s home and assaulted her there before demanding she go to an ATM and withdraw $400 for him.

“I was a monster,” Mohammed said Monday in 3rd District Court. “I didn’t know what I was thinking. I was a very stupid kid.”

But now, after six years in a secure juvenile detention facility, Mohammed says he’s learned a lot and is ready to show he’s a different person than the boy who assaulted the two women in 2011.

“There is nothing that I could say or do that could restore what I did to them,” he said. “The only way I can show them I’ve changed is how I live my life.”

Judge Vernice Trease gave him the opportunity to do just that, opting to sentence Mohammed to five years of probation instead of a term at the Utah State Prison.

The sentencing comes a month before Mohammed’s 21st birthday — the time when he would age out of the juvenile system and could no longer be housed at the Wasatch Youth Center, where he has been since he pleaded guilty to rape, sexual assault and kidnapping charges in 2012.

He pleaded guilty to charges in both adult and juvenile court, allowing a “blended” sentence that would give him the chance to receive services in the juvenile system, but still give the judge the option to sentence him to adult prison, if necessary.

However, Trease told the defendant Monday that he would not go to prison, and instead sentenced him to strict probation — requiring weekly check-ins with the court and his probation officer, no internet access and ankle monitoring, among other restrictions.

If he violates his probation in any way, Trease said, she “won’t bat an eye” in sending him to prison to serve consecutive sentences on the three crimes he pleaded guilty to in adult court.

“I won’t let you down,” Mohammed told the judge at the end of the hearing.

Mohammed’s sentence was not what prosecutors or victims had sought.

One victim told the judge that she is “terrified” at the thought of Mohammed being out on the same streets where she lives. The woman, who was assaulted inside her home, asked for the strictest sentence that the judge could impose, saying that she has to live with flashbacks and fear every day.

“He did adult crimes,” she told the judge tearfully, “and should have an adult sentence to match what he did.”

Prosecutor Coral Sanchez-Rose said it wasn’t difficult for her to ask for a prison sentence for Mohammed, because of how vicious his crimes were.

She said the other victim wasn’t in court Monday because prosecutors have lost contact with her. At the time of the assault, the woman was a college student and doing well, Sanchez-Rose said. But afterward, she fell into drug use and got in trouble with the law.

“We just lost track of her,” Sanchez-Rose said. “I don’t know if she’s homeless, I don’t know where she’s staying at; we’re unable to contact her. Clearly, this has had a great impact in her life.”

That victim told a judge in 2012 that she, too, wanted adult prison for Mohammed. The Salt Lake Tribune generally does not identify victims of sexual assault.

Supporters of Mohammed, mostly staffers and volunteers at Wasatch Youth Center, painted a different picture of Mohammed on Monday. He is a leader in his unit, they said, and his peers look up to him. He is well-liked, and has come a long way in understanding empathy and taking responsibility. He also trained in carpentry while at the detention center and has a job lined up.

He has a “kind and gentle soul,” said Robert Crawford, a branch president for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who volunteers at the detention center.

“I would trust him with my life,” Crawford said, “and we want to continue to help him. We will do everything in our power to help this young man.”

Mohammed was born in a Somali refugee camp, where he saw his brother killed by a robber, witnessed a rape and was himself the victim of sexual abuse, according to testimony at earlier proceedings.

On Aug. 14, 2011, in Salt Lake City, the teen came up behind a woman who was outside her house with a dog and held a four-inch switchblade to her throat. He threatened to cut her if she screamed, the charges state, then raped her behind the home.

The following night, the boy broke into another woman’s home. He looked through drawers in the house before raping the woman, according to charging documents.

The teen then forced the woman to go to an ATM and withdraw money for him, according to charges.

The ATM machine’s security camera eventually led police to young Mohammed. He would later tell investigators he wanted the money so he didn’t have to wear stained clothes on the first day of ninth grade school classes.

Crime

Southall shooting: Man charged with murder of Khalid Abdi Farah

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Detectives investigating the shooting of 26-year-old Khalid Farah in Southall have charged a 21-year-old man.

Malique Thompson-Hill was charged with murder on Sunday (December 3), the Metropolitan Police said in a statement.

Mr Farah was fatally shot in the chest while he was sat in a Ford Focus car in Lady Margaret Road on November 11.

London Ambulance Service attended the scene and the victim was taken to a central London hospital where he died at 3.32am.

Following his death, Crimestoppers announced a reward of up to £10,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.

In a statement, his family said: “Khalid was such an amazing son, brother and nephew.

“We can’t stress enough how distraught we are that our beautiful boy was taken away from us.”

The family statement added: “He was a kind and lovable soul who made an impression with everyone he would meet.”

Mr Thompson-Hill was due to appear at Ealing Magistrates’ Court on Monday.

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Somali man found guilty in kidnapping of Canadian journalist

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FILE PHOTO: Somali national Ali Omar Ader arrested for 2008 hostage-taking in Somalia of two freelance journalists, Canadian Amanda Lindhout and Australian Nigel Brennan, is seen in an undated photo from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Courtesy RCMP/Handout via REUTERS

REUTERS — A Somali national has been convicted in an Ontario court for his role in the 2008 kidnapping of Canadian Amanda Lindhout, who was held captive in Somalia for 460 days and released only after her family paid a ransom, Canadian media reported on Wednesday.
Ali Omar Ader, 40, was found guilty of one charge of hostage-taking for his role as negotiator for the kidnappers, in a decision handed down on Wednesday in Ontario Superior Court in Ottawa.

Lindhout, a freelance journalist, was taken hostage in Somalia on Aug. 23, 2008, along with Australian photographer Nigel Brennan, while working on a story. They were released for ransom in November 2009.

Ader was lured to Canada from Somalia in 2015 and arrested in Ottawa as part of a sting operation by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in which an officer posed as a publisher interested in a book Ader was writing on Somalia, according to court documents.

Prosecutors argued that Ader had been the main spokesman for the hostage-takers, negotiating first with Lindhout’s mother and later with a private consultant hired by the families of Lindhout and Brennan.
According to court documents, he referred to himself as “a commander” and repeatedly threatened that the hostages would be harmed or killed unless the ransom was paid.

During his trial, Ader said that he too had been kidnapped by the group holding Lindhout captive, and was forced to act as their spokesman, as he spoke some English.

In his ruling, Justice Robert Smith said Ader’s claims were “completely unbelievable,” numerous Canadian media outlets reported. Reuters has not read the ruling.

Ader faces up to life in prison. Sentencing in the case is not expected until next year.

Lindhout has said she was repeatedly sexually and physically assaulted during her captivity, and both she and Brennan have said they were tortured and starved.

In 2013, Lindhout recounted her experience in the book “A House in the Sky.”

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Crime

Father beaten to death with chair as fight breaks out over snooker table in north London cafe

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A father was beaten to death with a chair when a fight broke out over the snooker table in a high street cafe.

Police launched a murder inquiry after Mohamed Hersi, 40, died in hospital following the attack in Bethel Cafe, Finsbury Park.

Mr Hersi, who recently left his job at a central London hotel to care for his elderly father, was set upon when he complained about players jumping the queue for the table.

He was rushed to hospital with critical injuries at 10pm on Tuesday. He died yesterday with his wife and their four children, aged five to 11, at his bedside.

His wife Barlin Ali, 36, told the Standard: “He was the best husband and father you could ask for.”
It is understood that Mr Hersi, who had been working as a hotel kitchen porter, was drinking tea and playing snooker in the cafe when the row broke out.

He was struck with the metal chair, fell to the floor and hit his head, his family said.

Mrs Ali said: “It is vitally important that anyone who saw what happened comes forward because the person who did this should not be on the streets.

“No other family should suffer this. Please come forward if you know anything and speak to police. We want justice for Mohamed because I have lost such a loving man.”

Mr Hersi’s sister-in-law Mariam Ali, 37, said: “Mohamed was a peaceful man. He would always say to us to not worry and ‘enjoy the moment’.
“Those were his favourite words. He was a lovely person and a good father. He was so happy around his children.”

“He was working at a grand hotel in central London until a few months ago when he had to stop work to look after his father.

“We just know he was drinking tea in the cafe on Tuesday night. We got a phone call saying Mohamed was on the floor. My sister ran to the cafe but the police were already there and took us to hospital. Doctors said he would not survive.”

The cafe in Seven Sisters Road was cordoned off. A worker at a nearby internet cafe said: “He was playing snooker. There’s only a small table there, it was full of people. A guy came in and was trying to jump the queue. Then there was an argument.”

The Met’s Homicide and Major Crime Command is investigating. No arrests have been made. Anyone with information is asked to call the incident room on 020 8345 3865 or via 101 or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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