Two hitmen who were high on heroin when they went to the wrong location and mistakenly stabbed an innocent teenager to death were found guilty of the boy’s murder today.
17 year-old Aamir Siddiqi was killed within seconds of answering the door at his family home in Cardiff to the pair who mistook him for a middle aged man they had been sent to kill for just £1,000 each in blood money.
Today as Ben Hope, 39, and Jason Richards, 38, were convicted of his murder, Amir’s parents talked warmly of a bright young man, always kind to others and the pride of his mother and father.
“With his departure, life has become very empty and somewhat meaningless. Aamir was everything in my life,” said his father Iqbal Siddiqi, 70.
“I still feel his presence around me. I miss his big hugs,” his mother Parveen, 57 added.
Swansea Crown Court heard how Hope and Richards had been sent to murder a middle-aged man who owed money but turned up at the wrong door step in Roath, Cardiff.
Clad in balaclavas and letting out chilling howls, they knifed the teenager to death, injuring his parents as they fought to fend them off.
Hope and Richards denied murdering Aamir and two separate counts of the attempted murder of his parents but were convicted.
Today as he adjourned sentencing until next Friday, Mr Justice Royce said: “It is inevitable that there is a life sentence and it is inevitable that there will be a very substantial minimum term.”
“On the 11th of April 2010, a house which was previously filled with love and laughter was brutally destroyed by the callous, vicious attack on our parents and our brother. Within seconds our lives changed for ever,” said Aamir’s sister, Umbareen Siddiqi, 33, adding: “Aamir was a beautiful person with a bright future. If he was still with us he would be looking forward to turning 21 this year and completing his law degree.”
Explaining that the family was delighted and relieved at convictions that would finally let them begin to deal with the reality of losing Aamir, she continued: “He was the heartbeat of our family but his warmth, love, affection and humour touched many, many more people.”
Mrs Siddiqi continued: “Life changed when the doorbell rang and he opened the door. It took seconds. We didn’t even get the chance to wonder what had happened.”
Her husband added that the killers had committed a “sinister” act and deserved to receive lengthy sentences: “Since these verdicts we feel that justice has been done. We do not want revenge or to feel bad towards anybody, but when someone has done something so bad they should be punished.”
The trial heard how Hope and Richards went about the murder with “staggering incompetence”, selecting the Siddiqi family home because it was a similar looking red-brick property to that of their intended target who lived in a completely different road nearby. Instead of maintaining a low profile, they struck in broad day light and made off in a stolen Volvo which they abandoned, covered in fingerprints and Aamir’s blood.
Detective Superintendent Paul Hurley, of the South Wales Police Specialist Crime Investigations Team, described the case as one of the worst he had known in a 27-year career but praised the local community for being so forthcoming with information in what had been a very complex inquiry.
The pair, who both had convictions for violent crimes and were heroin addicts operating in Cardiff’s underworld, met in prison, and developed a drug-dependent friendship in which Richards needed Hope to inject him in parts of his body that were not already wrecked.
Richards claimed he was the victim of a mistaken identity and another mystery man carried out the killing with Hope. But the jury took just a day to convict both of them on all counts.
Outside court Catrin Evans, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “Whilst Aamir’s assailants have been brought to justice, we are acutely aware that nothing can make up for the loss felt by those close to him.”