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The Somali mother and son who have chosen to live on a high street bench for three years

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A Somali mother and son have been living on a high street bench for three years after turning down two-bedroom council flats in London.

Wandsworth Council has desperately tried to rehouse them and offered the pair two refurbished properties in Tooting, south west London, which typically cost £1,500 a month.

But they chose to remain on the bench despite last-ditch pleas from their family and members of the local Somali community.

The mother and son have been homeless since December 2014 when they were evicted from the flat they shared in Tooting. It is thought a death in the family and a period of hospitalisation led to them living on the streets.

They spent time on a different bench outside TK Maxx – further down Tooting High Street – but it seems the family members have now found a new spot directly outside the local library.

Photographs show the son urinating up against the library wall and the pair sitting on the bench throughout the day before they finally pull a tarpaulin over them just after midnight.

By 10.30am, they are both usually awake and they typically have a honey sandwich 30 minutes later.

Throughout the day, the mother, who is believed to be in her 60s, speaks to people as they walk past and her son, thought to be in his 20s, sits next to her on the bench.

Residents who live in the area often give the pair food and water, before the mother and son pull a tarpaulin sheet over their heads to keep warm through the night, with their belongings stacked under and beside the bench.

The mother and son are usually in good spirits and enjoy speaking to people who walk past and talk to them on Tooting High Street

On one particular Sunday, Around noon, he listened to his MP3 player and they went for a walk after eating chicken and chips together.

After napping, the mother applied hand a face cream and was asleep by 10.30pm – while he stayed up and listened to music. At midnight, he pulled the tarpaulin over the pair and they both fell asleep.

Back in 2014, the couple were evicted from their property in Tooting back after failing to pay their rent and have been on the street ever since.

A source told MailOnline that charities, members of their family, the police and people from the local Somali community have all failed to get them off the bench.

The most recent property they have been offered was just off Tooting High Street and two bed properties typically cost £1,500 per calendar month.

It comes with a newly-fitted kitchen and bathroom, but the couple declined the offer and prefer to remain on the bench.

The council described the situation as being a ‘difficult and complex case’ and said the mother and son ‘will not accept any offers’.

A day in the life of a homeless Somali Mother and son, who have lived on a bench outside Tooting Library, London, since 2014.

A Wandsworth Council spokesman: ‘This is a very difficult and complex case involving two people who simply will not accept any of the offers of help they have received from the many different agencies and charities who have been involved in trying to find a solution to this problem.

‘The council offered them two very pleasant and fully refurbished two-bedroom flats in Tooting that they could have moved into straight away – but they turned both down without even looking at them.

‘If people refuse to accept offers of help then that is their decision and their choice. We cannot force people to accept our help.

‘Since this issue arose we have repeatedly tried to engage with them but these efforts have all been rebuffed.

‘We have enlisted the help of their extended family and representatives of the local Somali community, but no-one has been able to persuade them to come in off the streets.

‘We are of course enormously concerned for their welfare and are continuing to closely monitor the situation and offer support in the hope that they change their minds.’

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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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UK

Murdered Suhaib Mohammed ‘collateral damage’ to drug dealers

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Suhaib Mohammed died two hours after being shot in the chest

A teenager who was murdered in the UK after moving from Somalia was “just collateral damage” to a drug dealing gang, a senior police officer says.
Suhaib Mohammed, 19, was shot through an open window at a house in Milton Keynes, in September 2016.

Two men were jailed for life in March after being convicted of his murder.

Speaking ahead of a TV documentary about the case, Det Ch Insp Mike Lynch said Mr Mohammed had been “groomed into a life he knew nothing about.”

“This was the tragic case of a 19-year-old brought from Somalia to the UK by his family to make a better life for themselves but, ultimately, he was vulnerable,” he said.

“He was was just collateral damage in the world of organised crime and became wrapped up in something he had no control over.”

A teenager who was murdered in the UK after moving from Somalia was “just collateral damage” to a drug dealing gang, a senior police officer says.
Suhaib Mohammed, 19, was shot through an open window at a house in Milton Keynes, in September 2016.

Two men were jailed for life in March after being convicted of his murder.

Speaking ahead of a TV documentary about the case, Det Ch Insp Mike Lynch said Mr Mohammed had been “groomed into a life he knew nothing about.”

“This was the tragic case of a 19-year-old brought from Somalia to the UK by his family to make a better life for themselves but, ultimately, he was vulnerable,” he said.

“He was was just collateral damage in the world of organised crime and became wrapped up in something he had no control over.”

Mohammed Noor (left) and Albert Prempeh should serve a minimum of 30 years, the judge said

Mohamed Noor, 33, and Albert Prempeh, 35, both of Milton Keynes, were sentenced to a minimum of 30 years, following a trial at Luton Crown Court.

Noor, of Radworthy, fired the revolver after Prempeh, from Langland Road, had led him to the house in Osprey Close, Eagleston.

The court heard the pair went to the address to exact revenge on a man known as Hypes, who had robbed Noor earlier and believed to have been involved in a £4,000 bookmaker robbery the previous day.

Prempeh said he had been forced at gunpoint by Noor to go to the house, an accusation Noor denied.

Mr Lynch said: “That was the difficulty of the case – it seemed straightforward.

“But we looked at CCTV and found footage of Prempeh leading Noor to the scene and certainly not under duress”.

The case has been featured in Channel 4 documentary Catching a Killer, to be shown on Thursday, 7 December.
Mr Lynch – who has since retired from policing – said he took part in the programme to show how “emotionally challenging” cases like this are for police staff.

“They have to support families who have lost someone but they have to be impartial and seek the truth, which sometimes causes tension,” he said.

“And there is always a sense of a hollow victory in that no sentence can ever bring someone back”.

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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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