Guilty: Islington man murdered ‘peacemaker’ father-of-two outside Shoreditch bar before fleeing to Cyprus
- Credit: Met Police
A man who killed a stranger he met on a night out in Shoreditch, who had tried to as a ‘peacemaker’ to break up a fight, has been found guilty of murder.
Tyla Gopaul, 22, of Holloway Road, Islington, stabbed 26-year-old Zakaria Abukar Sharif Ali to death in Waterson Street outside the Rolling Stock bar in the early hours of November 24, 2018.
Gopaul then fled the country later that day, catching a flight to Cyprus where he stayed for nearly a year until he was extradited back to the UK on a European arrest warrant.
He admitted manslaughter, but was found guilty of murdering Zakaria on November 20 following a trial at the Old Bailey.
The incident began in the Kingsland Road bar on November 23, 2018, where Zakaria, a father-of-two, befriended two men who he spent the evening drinking with.
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Gopaul was out with a male friend that night, and arrived at the Rolling Stock at 4am.
CCTV from inside the bar shows Gopaul and Zakaria talking to each other at 5.15am, and they appear to end the conversation with a handshake.
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Club goers filled the street outside when the bar shut at 6am, and the two groups left separately, walking off in opposite directions.
But then Zakaria and the two men he had met inside walked back towards the club, and one of them got involved in an argument with Gopaul’s friend.
Over the course of the trial, witnesses recounted how they heard the man shout to Gopaul’s friend: “Come down here. Let’s sort this out.”
Zakaria came between the two men to try to de-escalate the situation, and encouraged them both to calm down.
Witnesses recalled a change in Gopaul’s friend’s attitude, and he was heard to say: “No, I’m not going there. No chance. No, I’m not going down there.”
They then saw Gopaul come running toward the group of men shouting “what, what, what”, before he pulled a knife from his trousers which he “flayed around” and “lunged” towards the group.
Zakaria, who seemed to be trying to intervene between Gopaul and the others, was stabbed.
As Gopaul fled the scene, Zakaria took five or six steps towards Kingsland Road before collapsing.
Emergency services were called at 6.30am, and Zakaria was rushed to hospital in a critical condition. He died two hours later.
Gopaul, meanwhile, met up with his friend Destiny Bannerman, 19, of Caledonian Road, Islington, who helped him make plans to flee the country.
She appeared before the Old Bailey on June 11 and pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice and assisting an offender.
They are both due to be sentenced today.
Bushra Sharif-Ali, Zakaria’s youngest sister, described how her five siblings “all looked up to him”.
“He was the nicest, kindest, and the most helpful person you could ever wish to meet,” she said.
“As crazy as it sounds, me and all my other siblings would fight and argue just like siblings do, but he would never.
“With us, he was the older brother who looked out for us all. He was very protective of us all. He was our role model.
“Zak was 26 years old and married with a six-year-old son and a three-year-old daughter. They both adored Zak. They loved him so much.
“His eldest is aware that his dad is gone, every night he prays to God and tells him to protect his dad.
“Knowing his children will never know how much he loved them breaks my heart.
“When we, as a family, lost Zakaria, I can’t even begin to explain how we were all feeling, it felt unreal.
“We couldn’t believe he was gone. At that moment, it felt like our whole world had stopped.
“I am grateful to have known my brother for all my years. I wish I could have a lifetime with him.”
Det Insp Rita Tierney, from the Met’s murder squad, said: “This was a senseless attack involving a group of men, who for the most part had never met each other prior to that evening.
“Tragically, Zakaria was acting as a peacemaker during this event and was trying to calm the situation down.
“Tyla Gopaul tried to claim that it was an accident, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
“The suffering of Zakaria’s family has been prolonged by the actions of Tyla Gopaul.
“Not only responsible for Zakaria’s death, but then fleeing the country in a bid to avoid facing justice for his crime.
“They have had to wait knowing the man responsible for Zakaria’s death has been walking free abroad.
“The facts of this case demonstrate how quickly and seriously an incident can escalate with terrible results once a decision is taken to use a knife.”