The lane behind Cardiff University Students’ Union is often a busy and bustling place.
As June 1st became June 2nd last year, that was no less true. It was summertime; exams were ending. The city’s students - never ones to shun an evening out - had more reason than usual to celebrate.
But in the midst of this thoroughfare, with happy and occasionally raucous young people on their way back from an evening out, a human tragedy was unfolding.
In the space of a few short seconds, unbeknownst to those even metres away, a brutal attack was taking place, which cost a young man’s life.
Fahad Nur died, the court heard, in "a brutal revenge killing.” The jury was told that the 18-year-old was a drug dealer, carrying with him that night drugs and cash worth more than £1500. While walking the streets with friends, he crossed paths with two other young men: Abdulgalil Aldobhani and Shaffique Shaddad.
The Aldobhani family had history with Fahad. The previous year, Abulgalil’s brother Mustafa told police Fahad had threatened him with a knife.
So when Abdulgalil and Shaffique spotted Nur that night on the streets of Cathays, they saw an opportunity for revenge. CCTV footage, shown in court, captured that moment. After catching sight of Fahad, Aldobhani and Shahdad can be seen turning to follow him.
Mustafa, Abdulgalil’s younger brother, was at home. He’d spent the evening with his brother, Shaddad and another friend, before going to a flat on Cathays Terrace. Just after midnight, phone records show Mustafa received a call from his brother. What was said in that short conversation has never been revealed. But moments afterwards, CCTV captured Mustafa on his bike, cycling over Cathays bridge. The trap was closing.Cameras show Fahad Nur separate from his friends before entering Park Lane. He’s followed by Aldobhani and Shaddad.
Then come the key moments.
At eighteen minutes past midnight, a camera on the lane records Mr Nur walking past.
Moments later, the same camera shows him running back in the opposite direction, pursued by another figure.
The prosecution said this was Mustafa Aldobhani: he’d cycled to the top end of the lane to cut off Fahad’s escape. With Mustafa on one side and Abulgalil and Shaffique on the other, Nur was now trapped, and at the mercy of his assailants.
What happened next was witnessed by several people, mostly students, out enjoying their evening. To some eyes, the confrontation seemed more like friendly rough and tumble than a life or death struggle. Ethan Moore, a student who had been out celebrating his girlfriend’s birthday, said it looked like the attackers were “joking”, “bundling” Fahad. It was only when Nur collapsed, and the others aimed kicks at his abdomen and head, that he realised he was witnessing something far more sinister. At this point, Mr Moore said, he tried to intervene. “Just leave it”, he was told by one of the attackers. “Don’t get involved.”
Other witnesses saw things differently. Paul Mallet, another student, describes seeing a figure up against a wall in Park Lane, hands up as if in self defence, crying out in pain while other men drove at him with “fast, jabbing actions.” A later examination of Fahad Nur’s body showed a number of “defensive” injuries consistent with this account. In one case, a pathologist told the court, his hand had been pierced clean through by a blade.
In all, the confrontation lasted less than a minute. The attackers left Fahad for dead. Bystanders, including medical students, were soon at his side, administering CPR. They were joined at the scene by the emergency services.
Fahad’s chest cavity was opened at the scene, and treatment given. But nothing could be done. He was pronounced dead in hospital at 01:30.
A post-mortem laid bare the extent of his injuries. Twenty one separate stab and slash wounds, including a "cluster" of injuries to his back, and separate wounds to his hands, face and legs. There was a single, fatal injury to his heart. Two of the weapons used - a meat cleaver and a knife - were later recovered, hidden in the hollow of a tree. Traces of Abdulgalil Aldobhani’s DNA was found on one weapon; the victim’s on the other. A third blade, thought to have been used in the assault, has never been found.
As police began piecing together the events of the night, the Aldobhani brothers were plotting their escape. Abdulgalil’s girlfriend, Aseel Arar, booked one way tickets for the couple to Morocco. The plan, it seems, was simply to disappear. But police arrested her, and Abdulgalil, before they were able to board the flight at Heathrow. Mustafa was picked up at a friend’s house in London and Shaffique Shaddad was located in Newport.
All four defendants chose not to give evidence during their trial.
Mustafa Aldobhani told police he hadn’t been involved at all in Fahad Nur’s death. Abdulgalil Aldobhani claimed it was Fahad who’d attacked him with knives, and that, after wresting the blades from him, he’d stabbed him in self-defence.
His account was supported by Shaffique Shaddad. Aseel Arar said she’d known nothing about the killing. After four and a half days of deliberation, the jury decided that none of their accounts were true.
In a victim impact statement, Fahad Nur’s sister said her brother had been “ambushed and stabbed to death in a cowardly and vicious attack.” She added that “if any good could come from this case, it would be that other young people could see what tragedy can come from carrying knives.”
Judge Mr Justice Hilliard will sentence the male defendants later this week, and Ms Arar at the end of the month.
Today’s verdict, at the end of a 10 week trial, may give Fahad Nur’s family some closure.
But nothing will be bring back the teenage son and brother they lost when that summer night exploded into violence.