In the Media

Why can't we deport evil double killer, asks judge

PUBLISHED February 15, 2007

A judge has expressed his frustration at being unable to order the deportation of an asylum seeker convicted of two murders.

Roberto Malasi, 18, stormed into a christening party in August 2005 and shot a woman in the head as she cradled a six-month-old baby.

Just 15 days later, he stabbed to death Ruth Okechukwu, also 18, because he felt she had 'disrespected' him.

Angolan-born Malasi was yesterday ordered to spend at least 30 years behind bars.

But it has emerged that he - along with two other members of the gang involved in the christening murder - will not be automatically Roberto Malasi: The teenager was given two life sentences deported at the end of his sentence.

Two of his accomplices, 16-year-old Timy Babamuboni and Jude Odigie, 17, have escaped deportation orders because of their age.

Fellow defendant Diamond Babamuboni - Timy's elder brother - is 18 and therefore can be deported.

And Malasi will not be kicked out because he was granted indefinite leave to remain in Britain before the killings took place.

Ruth's mother, Pauline Okechukwu, said: "He should be deported. He has not only taken Ruth's life but he has taken my life as well. Ruth was born and bred in the country.

"I see no reason why someone who came from another place should come and kill my daughter."

Her pastor husband, Ben, 60, added: "Ruth is such a wonderful lady, she would have been 20 at this time. She had so much to offer the community and the nation.

"She was very warm, forthright and ambitious."

Asked about Malasi, he added: "For me personally, as a man of God, I feel sorry for him and I forgive him because he has no sense of belonging.

"He has been left behind by his parents. There is no relationship between him and other men.

"He doesn't see human beings as other human beings. He thinks human beings are animals."

Malasi was described by Mr Justice Gross at the Old Bailey as 'evil'.

The judge said it was 'unprecedented' for someone so young to be convicted of two unrelated killings.

His murderous rampage started on August 27, 2005, when he and three others burst into a hall in Peckham, South London, and opened fire on a christening party.

Sierra Leone-born Zainab Kalokoh, 33, who was cradling her niece, was shot once through the head. As she lay dying the feral gang simply walked over her bloodsoaked body and stole as much money and jewellery as possible. The baby was unharmed.

The judge told the defendants: "What you four did that night was evil. In a cruel irony, many of the guests had come to this country to escape the violence of Sierra Leone."

Days later, while on the run, Malasi became involved in a row over 'respect' with pastor's daughter Ruth. He overheard her apparently criticising him and vowed revenge.

Within days he had sought her out and on September 11, 2005, he stabbed her at least six times after he dragged her from her car in Walworth, South London.

As the youngster tried to defend herself, he stabbed her through her hands. He was arrested after walking into a local police station amid fears for his life.

The youth - who had been sleeping rough in Peckham - came to Britain from Angola in the 1990s and was granted indefinite leave to remain before the killings.

Because of this, the judge was unable to order his deportation yesterday. But he urged Home Secretary John Reid to consider ripping up his permission to stay.

The Babamubonis, meanwhile, came to Britain from Nigeria and claimed asylum but their applications were rejected.

They were helped in their fight to stay in Britain by their local MP, Constitutional Affairs minister Harriet Harman, despite having a string of previous convictions.

Nigerian-born Odigie is also a failed asylum seeker.

Malasi was convicted of the christening murder last December and pleaded guilty to Ruth's murder last month.

The Babamubonis and Odigie, all from South London, were convicted of Mrs Kalokoh's manslaughter. They were each jailed for 16 years with a minimum term of eight.

The judge said: "This country has a long and proud record for offering refuge to those in need of help.

"From time to time, there are those like you who abuse this proud tradition. I am satisfied that your continued presence is not in this country's interest."