Posted on: June 20, 2022, 03:58h.
Last updated on: June 20, 2022, 04:27h.
An Eritrean man who tortured a stranger to death in a London slots parlor has been imprisoned for life for the killing.
Abel Berhany, 23, was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and undiagnosed paranoid schizophrenia when he attacked Abraham Haile, 56, a chauffeur, at the City Slots gaming arcade in Camden High Street.
When he was arrested on July 28, 2020, Berhany told police he had been tortured as a child in Libya. At London’s Old Bailey court, Judge Martin Picton suggested the defendant may have been reenacting past trauma on his victim, who was in the “wrong place at the wrong time.”
Locked In with Killer
The court heard that Berhany kicked, stamped, and jumped on Haile’s head or upper body 99 times, before pausing the horrifying attack to smoke a cigarette.
Then he beat Haile’s head with two fire extinguishers a total of 50 times, before ramming a broom handle down his throat. He used a fire extinguisher to hammer the broom deeper into Haile’s esophagus, and then discharged both fire extinguishers over and into his body.
He drew on Haile’s body with a ballpoint pen before dousing it in bleach that he found in a store cupboard.
Security footage of the 16-minute attack was played to the court. It showed that Berhany first encountered Haile in the smoking area of the slots parlor where an argument appeared to develop between the two and Haile punched Berhany once in the face.
As the confrontation escalated, the manager of the venue tried to intervene, before deciding to usher the other customers out into the street. He locked Berhany and Haile inside while he called the police.
They arrived to find Haile dead at the scene.
“The defendant’s actions simply beggar belief. No one who has had to watch the [security footage] will ever be able to forget what they witnessed,” Picton said. “The defendant’s treatment of Mr. Haile was cruel, heartless, and inhuman. The defendant was entirely remorseless in his desire to inflict as much pain and indignity as he could.”
Berhany’s lawyer said his client was remorseful and struggled to understand how he could be capable of such violence.
He pleaded guilty to manslaughter on account of diminished responsibility and will serve a minimum of 18 years. But Picton said Berhany was a significant risk to the public and may never be safe for release.
Picton praised Haile’s family for their dignity throughout the proceedings.
“Abraham Haile lost his life in the most awful of circumstances,” he said. “His family and those who loved him will never recover from the impact of this senseless tragedy. They will be left wondering why him and why did no-one save him?”