An Afghan asylum seeker who claimed he was 16 when arrested on suspicion of murder in Bournemouth is actually 21 years old, a court has ruled.
Lawangeen Abdulrahimzai is awaiting trial at Winchester Crown Court charged with the murder of 21-year-old Thomas Roberts outside a Subway sandwich shop in the Dorset seaside resort on March 12 2022.
The defendant, who was born in Afghanistan and who arrived in the country in December 2019, originally stated after he was arrested that he believed he was 16 years old, the court has heard.
But after checks were made by the court, it was determined that he was an adult born in October 2001, making him 20 at the time of offence and 18 when he entered the UK.
He'd previously been treated by the authorities as a child asylum seeker as he had previously stated he was 14 when he entered the country.
His given age initially gave him the right to anonymity in the courts as a minor but these reporting restrictions have now been lifted by the judge, Mrs Justice Cutts, following an age determination hearing.
She said that as a result of the ruling, Abdulrahimzai would need to be moved from Feltham Young Offender Institution to an adult prison.
She said: "The defendant, Lawangeen Abdulrahimzai, is charged with an offence of murder.
"There is no dispute that since 2019 he has been an asylum seeker from Afghanistan.
"It has been clear that since his arrest and before that an age assessment was required for him, not just for criminal proceedings but also for the local authority. The difference between the age he was given by his uncle and the age given by the age assessment has been somewhat substantial."
She added: "I am told he will be returned to Feltham YOI and arrangements will be made to transfer him to an adult prison."
Jo Martin KC, defending, told the court: "As for Mr Abdulrahimzai, he does not know what age he is and that remains the position but he does acknowledge that he is an adult."
The trial is set to start on January 11 2023.