Drug-dealer handed nine-year sentence for manslaughter of music student

Suleman Hassan, 18, was caught on CCTV as he inflicted a single stab wound on Lamin Barrow.

Matthew Cooper
Wednesday 08 June 2022 18:16 BST
Suleman Hassan (West Midlands Police/PA)
Suleman Hassan (West Midlands Police/PA) (PA Media)

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Louise Thomas

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A teenage drug-dealer who killed a university music student by stabbing him in the heart has been handed a nine-year sentence for manslaughter.

Suleman Hassan, 18, was caught on CCTV as he inflicted a single stab wound on Lamin Barrow, who had “taken exception” to cannabis being sold on the street.

Birmingham Crown Court was told that after the killing, Hassan disposed of the knife used and was overheard saying he needed to burn his clothes.

A hearing on Wednesday also heard how Hassan had 251 images of knives on his phone when he stabbed Mr Barrow, a drill music rapper who was in the final year of studies for a degree at the University of Wolverhampton.

Lamin Barrow (West Midlands Police/PA)
Lamin Barrow (West Midlands Police/PA) (PA Media)

Opening the facts of the case, prosecutor Peter Grieves-Smith said the Crown accepted Hassan’s pleas of guilty to manslaughter but not guilty to murder.

He told the court Mr Barrow received a fatal wound after getting out of his car in Chudleigh Road, Erdington, on November 29 last year.

Mr Grieves-Smith told the court: “It is an incident that was caught on CCTV.

“On November 29, the defendant arranged to sell cannabis to a woman and they met in Chudleigh Road.

“This exchange was witnessed by Lamin Barrow. Events show he took exception to what had happened.”

Hassan stabbed Mr Barrow once with a motion described by a witness as resembling a “lower punch” moments after he got out of his car.

“Although it’s a single stab wound, it caused an injury to the heart that led very quickly to death,” Mr Grieves-Smith said.

We have lost a pure-hearted soul to a knife. Our hearts are completely broken

Mama Barrow

Originally from Gambia in west Africa, Mr Barrow was described in court as a talented musician and an “amazing, beautiful” son.

His mother, Mama Barrow, said in a victim impact statement read to the court: “We have lost a pure-hearted soul to a knife. Our hearts are completely broken.

“We will never see him marry. It doesn’t seem real, we are still waiting for him to walk through the door.

“We came to the UK for a better life but now we feel that our lives are over.”

Hassan, of Short Heath Road, Erdington, had previously been arrested in connection with inquiries into a County Lines drug network.

He also admitted possession of a knife.

Defence QC Imran Shafi said the devastating consequences of the incident were not intended and Hassan had “genuinely perceived a real threat to his life”.

Sentencing Hassan to nine years’ detention in a young offender institution, Mr Justice Pepperall said Mr Barrow was a much-loved young man who had a bright future as a drill musician.

The court heard the victim had starred in a number of music videos associated with a local gang, the 23 Drillas, and was friends with some of its members.

Passing a concurrent 12-month sentence for possession of a knife in a public place, the judge told Hassan: “It is clear from Mr Barrow’s actions on the day of his death that he took exception to the fact you were selling drugs.

“I accept that you perceived that you were at risk of attack.

“Mr Barrow had however not drawn any weapon. Indeed he was not armed. You used entirely disproportionate violence.”

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