|Burglar gets life for the murder of Robert Symons|
Teacher was 'ambushed and wickedly murdered' in Airedale Avenue home
An Old Bailey judge has told Yousef Bouhaddaou that he would serve at least 27 years for murdering 45 year old Robert Symons at his Airedale Avenue home.
Jailing him for life, the Common Sergeant of London Brian Barker said it was a "terrifying and terrible episode. Within weeks of your release on licence you reverted to being a night-time burglar for your own selfish needs."
He continued "Any intrusion of a family home causes untold distress but to take a man's life in his own house and destroy his family is totally unacceptable and leaves scars that will never heal."
Following a seven day trial, 28 year old Yousef Bouhaddou was convicted of murder. The jury took just 40 minutes to reach a verdict in what is believed to be one of the shortest deliberations over any case at the Old Bailey in the modern era.
Reacting to the conviction, DCI Steve Morris, Specialist Crime Directorate West, officer in charge of the investigation said "Robert Symons was a loving and devoted husband and father. He was ambushed and wickedly murdered in his own home by a man whose only intention was to save his own skin.
"The attack was carried out in such a way that Robert Symons would have been totally unaware of the danger he was about to face when he went downstairs. Yousef Bouhaddou showed a callous disregard for his victim in his determination to get away. The conviction today should be a strong message to others who break into people's homes and attack the occupiers."
Father of two girls aged five and two, Robert Symons died after being fatally stabbed with a kitchen knife in the early hours of Wednesday 20th October 2004. Bouhaddaou had denied murder claiming that Robert Symons came at him with the knife and it was ‘bad luck’ that he was stabbed.
He claimed in court to have stayed off drugs for a short time after his release but one week before the attack had started smoking crack again and needed to raise funds to support his £120 a day habit. He denied the prosecution’s claims that he killed Robert Symons because he was afraid of returning to prison.
Bouhaddaou had been on crack since he was 18 and had served three prison sentences for burglary the last of which he had been released early from 5 weeks before the incident.
His conviction has prompted further criticism of probation supervision after last month's conviction of another early release offender for murder of banker John Monckton at his home in Chelsea.
Conservative Home Affairs spokesman Edward Garnier told Reuters that Symons' murder was the tragic consequence of a lack of prison places. "Public confidence in the parole system is hitting rock bottom and lives are being lost as a result of a systemic management breakdown," he said.
Home Secretary Charles Clarke is expected next month to announce changes to the supervision of offenders following the Monckton inquiry. The Home Office said there had already been a review of the Bouhaddaou case and any lessons from it would be included in Clarke's conclusions.
March 15, 2006