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Teenager Ali Hassanzada jailed for stabbing 'best friend' Hashim Armani in Gillingham

A teenager who came to the UK from a war-torn province in Afghanistan and then ran amok in a high street with a knife, stabbing another youth, has been locked up for five years.

Ali Hassanzada was caught on CCTV cameras as he pursued fellow countryman Hashim Armani with the weapon, intent on causing him further injury.

The 18-year-old has since been of “exemplary character” as he studied electrical installation at Mid-Kent College.

The case was heard at Maidstone Crown Court
The case was heard at Maidstone Crown Court

But a judge told him through an interpreter: “You and anyone must understand that those who carry weapons and use them with the intention of causing really serious injury must expect a significant term of custody.”

Hassanzada, formerly of Watling Street, Gillingham, denied wounding with intent and possessing a bladed article, but was convicted in November.

“We can only imagine what he suffered back home,” he said. “What a bewildering, alien and isolated environment that must have been” - Charles Durrant, defending

Maidstone Crown Court heard Hassanzada, who was 16 at the time of the attack in December 2013, and Mr Armani, who was 17, had been playing football with others from the same “ethnic community” on the Sunday afternoon.

Hassanzada regarded Mr Armani as a best friend, but there was ill-feeling between them. Mr Armani, however, did not consider him to be a friend.

He was making his way home with others along Gillingham High Street at about 5pm when he encountered Hassanzada.

Hassanzada immediately became aggressive. He pulled out a kitchen knife with a 6in blade and ran towards him brandishing it.

He struck the victim on the shoulder. Mr Armani was cut further as put his left arm up to block further blows.

He turned and fled up the High Street and was almost knocked down by a car. Hassanzada gave chase and continued the attack outside the Hollywood Bowl restaurant as diners watched in horror.

After others grabbed the knife, he pulled out a chain and “whipped” Mr Armani across the back and shoulders with it.

Mr Armani was taken to hospital and treated for his injuries.

Judge Philip St John-Stevens
Judge Philip St John-Stevens

Charles Durrant, defending, said Hassanzada came to UK at the age of 14 and went on to pass five GCSEs.

“We can only imagine what he suffered back home,” he said. “What a bewildering, alien and isolated environment that must have been.”

Mr Durrant added: “I am struggling for motivation for these offences. This is clearly an aberration. The harm was not long lasting, certainly not life threatening. Clearly, it could have been much worse.”

Judge Philip St John-Stevens said if Mr Armani had not defended himself and run away, his injuries would have been worse.

“One can see from the recording you chasing and striking out a number of times,” he said. “In his mind, he felt you were trying to kill him.

“The dangers of carrying knives like that are obvious to all.”

The judge added: “Clearly, you are a hard-working young man who has much to offer. You come from a troubled and difficult background. I don’t find you dangerous.

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