Knife-obsessed killer Rocco Mustafa arrested lying in bed after he murdered Tom Waugh’ This is the moment a knife-obsessed teenager who killed a 20-year-old man ‘in a blind rage’ was arrested by police while lying in bed.
Knife-obsessed killer Rocco Mustafa arrested lying in bed after he murdered Tom Waugh
Rocco Mustafa, 18, and Reece Willis, 17, who can be named for the first time, were ordered to be detained for a minimum of 19-and-a-half years and 15 years respectively before they can apply for parole.
Time spent on remand will be taken into account for both.
In what was described as a ‘robbery that turned to retribution’, Mustafa ‘mortally wounded’ 20-year-old Tom Waugh in the chest with a Rambo-style hunting knife while Willis acted as ‘back-up’, a jury heard.
This is the moment police arrested Rocco Mustafa, 18 who was in be on suspicion of the murder of Tom Waugh
Rocco Mustapha, left, used his mother, Claire White’s bank card to buy a selection of knives online to be delivered to their home in Kent. Mustapha, 18, was sentenced to a minimum of 19.5 years after admitting to murdering Tom Waugh, 20, with a Rambo-style knife. White, 48, received a three-year jail term for assisting an offender
Mustafa’s mother, special needs teaching assistant Claire White, has also been jailed for three years for helping him flee the area and, in doing so, enabling him to dispose of vital evidence.
Maidstone Crown Court was told the 48-year-old school worker not only knew her son was in ‘serious trouble’ but that he habitually carried knives and had even used her bank card and driving licence to buy a selection of lethal weapons online just a few weeks earlier.
A ‘well-liked and sociable’ Mr Waugh was with childhood pals Ben Quinnell and Vraj Patel when they were confronted in Tonbridge Racecourse Park, Kent, shortly after midnight on August 19 last year.
Mr Waugh refused to hand over his mobile phone and was trying to help his friends – robbed of a gold chain, a packet of Benson & Hedges cigarettes and a £5 note – to escape when he was chased and then attacked in nearby Avebury Avenue.
There were no eye-witnesses to the killing but his distressing shouts and screams were captured in an audio recording from a Ring doorbell and played in court.
Mustafa, from Coulsdon, Surrey, later pleaded guilty to murder and attempted robbery of Mr Waugh, as well as two charges of robbery in respect of Mr Quinnell and Mr Patel.
Just 17 at the time, Mustafa was said to be ‘infatuated’ with knives, with several empty knife boxes found in his bedroom on arrest.
These had held not only the ‘fearsome’ murder weapon but also two swords, a machete and a Zombie knife – all bought online.
Willis, who was 16 at the time from, Tonbridge, Kent had denied the same four offences but was found unanimously guilty after a trial in which the jury deliberated for 11 hours.
He claimed he had acted ‘under duress’ in the robberies and played no part in any violence or Mr Waugh’s death.
Reece Willis, 17, who backed up Mustafa during the crime, did not stab Tom Waugh, right. But prosecutors said he ‘assisted and encouraged’ Mustafa to carry a knife. Willis, left, was jailed for a minimum of 15 years
But the prosecution said that while he may not have been armed himself, he ‘assisted and encouraged’ Mustafa, knowing his habit of carrying the knife used to stab Mr Waugh.
In the days leading up to the murder, they had also filmed themselves on their phones brandishing weapons.
White, who worked at a primary school in Coulsdon, was found guilty at the same trial of assisting an offender.
Despite describing her cannabis-smoking son as an ‘out-of-control, violent bully’, she claimed to have no idea of what had happened when she drove in the early hours from their family home to pick him up following his repeated frantic calls and texts.
Her first journey to Tonbridge within an hour of the murder was thwarted however by the police cordon and so she had to turn back before collecting him later that morning.
On arrest two days later, she was captured in bodyworn camera footage lying that she had ‘100 per cent not driven anyone’ from the area that night.
Mustafa, who smoked cannabis, was described by his mother as ‘an out-of-control bully’
Despite the severity of his chest wound, Mr Waugh was able to stagger a few metres and dial 999, reporting he had been stabbed and needed help, before he collapsed unconscious while still on the line.
He was discovered 30 minutes later, laying on his back, phone in hand and unresponsive, by a member of the public who together with Mr Waugh’s friends gave CPR until paramedics and police arrived.
Sadly, he was pronounced dead at the scene, with his family at his side.
He suffered what was described by prosecutor Nick Corsellis KC as five ‘gratuitous’ cuts to his head and face, and an ‘absolutely unsurvivable’ 20cm-deep knife wound through the left lung at a time when he was ‘offering no resistance’.
The court also heard that during the initial confrontation, Mustafa had referred to Willis by another name which led to the arrest and detention of an innocent person while they remained at large.
Mustafa was at home, asleep in bed with his girlfriend, when finally arrested two days later.
Passing sentence on Friday, Judge Julian Smith said Mr Waugh was murdered in ‘an act of mindless and blind rage’.
‘The tragedy of this case will last a lifetime for all those affected by the death of Tom Waugh,’ he told the court.
‘The tragedy encompasses the blighted lives of two teenage boys who must now be sentenced to detention at His Majesty’s pleasure.
‘The sentence is life but the offence took mere minutes, if seconds.
‘The particular tragedy here is not expressed by acknowledging the loss of a life but acknowledging the potential of Tom’s life.
‘He was just 20, out with his friends, minding their own business and enjoying each other’s company.
‘The two accused blame each other for the idea of robbing the three friends but it matters little.
‘Tom Waugh resolved to rescue his friends….Rocco Mustafa was agitated, clearly enraged and describes himself as seeing a red mist.
‘The injury that led to Tom’s death was essentially unsurvivable. The wounds to his face were an expression of his (Mustafa) rage when inflicted.
‘This was an act of mindless and blind rage, utterly pointless as it has been described.
‘In his rage he took a life and destroyed so much.’
The judge said the fact White was Mustafa’s mother made her ‘more culpable’.
‘There can be no doubt as to the seriousness of the matters which her son was involved in and she would have known that,’ he continued.
‘She was not taking loved ones away sometime after the event but was the first point of contact and would have understood very quickly.
‘She not only failed to advise her son in the correct way….I am quite sure evidence was lost as a result of her actions.’
A court anonymity order previously prevented Willis from being named by the media due to his age.
But on hearing representations from the press, Judge Smith ruled it should be lifted as the strong public interest outweighed any concerns for his welfare.
The courtroom was packed with Mr Waugh’s family and friends as well as seven of the jurors who returned for the sentencing hearing.
Many were in tears as his parents Louise Taylor and Andrew Waugh and brother Daniel read out their victim impact statements in front of a framed photo of Mr Waugh.
His dad described how their ‘world changed forever’ with a ‘deliberate and disgusting act of cruelty and cowardice’.
‘He was making plans for the future and he was ready to start chasing his dreams when his future and his life was taken from all of us,’ he said.
But he vowed: ‘We will be strong for Tom and for each other, and we are incredibly proud of our son for who he was as a person and for his selfless bravery that night.’
Ms Taylor, who like White is also a teaching assistant, described losing a child as ‘a grief beyond words’ and every parent’s worst nightmare.
‘We are bereft, devastated, our hearts completely broken,’ she told the court.
‘His life and future happiness were so unjustifiably taken from him in a monstrous, unprovoked attack of inexplicable violence and cruelty.
‘It was pointless, brutal and inhumane.’
The defendants sat impassively in the dock as the family spoke.
The trial heard the talented catering assistant, who lived with his family in Tonbridge, had cooked a BBQ for his family to celebrate his brother’s A-level results just a few hours before he was murdered.
Family and friends described him as ‘a shining light’ who was thoughtful, kind, inspiring and funny, the court heard.
‘He was well-liked, sociable, enjoyed life and had everything to live for. At just after midnight on August 19 he was murdered,’ said Mr Corsellis.
Of the moment he had tried to rescue his friends from their assailants, the prosecutor added: ‘The result was that he was pursued by both, who turned their attention to him, seeking to rob him of his telephone.
‘The robbery turned to retribution and Mustafa used his Rambo knife to repeatedly inflict injuries to Tom Waugh’s face.
‘Not content with that, he then stabbed Tom Waugh to his left chest, mortally wounding him.
‘Despite his injuries, he was able to call 999. He told them he had been stabbed and asked for help.
‘They were the last words he said and he died shortly afterwards in the street.’
Of White’s involvement, Mr Corsellis said the repeated contact with her son in the early hours and the sight of the police cordon would have made it ‘blatantly and patently obvious that this was a very significant episode.’
Furthermore, he added: ‘She was shown to have known full well that her son was not only fascinated by knives but carried them habitually in public.
‘Despite her profession as a teaching assistant and knowledge of safeguarding issues, she tolerated her son’s behaviour and the evidence demonstrates she purchased knives for him.
‘Her son had sufficient confidence in his mother’s attitude that he corresponded with her about knives and street crime in a manner that would have caused serious concern to any other parent.
‘That background set the scene for the extensive calls and messages between them in the aftermath of the murder including Facetime communication from the police cordon when a police helicopter was hovering above her.’
Mr Waugh had spent the evening with Mr Patel and Mr Quinnell, then 20-year-old university students, at the Humphrey Bean Wetherspoon pub before enjoying an impromptu kickabout in the park.
But shortly after making their way to sit on a riverside park bench, they were confronted by a masked Mustafa and Willis.
When Mr Waugh refused to hand over his belongings, Mustafa pulled out a knife with a blade measuring up to 25cm long from his manbag, said the prosecutor.
As the demands continued, Mr Waugh took his chance to run away and was able to alert a passer-by who called the police.
Mr Corsellis told the jury Mr Waugh had also texted Mr Quinnell urging him to run while he created a distraction.
He then returned and stood 20 metres away holding a wooden stick, waving his arms as he yelled ‘Leave them alone’.
But he was then chased from the park by the two youths, with Willis warning he would stab him if Mustafa was hurt, the court heard.
Mr Corsellis said that although Mustafa was the ‘ringleader’, Willis had played a ‘contributory’ role.
The court heard Mr Patel and Mr Quinnell were able to flee, only to later find Mr Waugh bleeding heavily and unconscious in Avebury Avenue with a member of the public tending to him.
Mr Waugh’s family were alerted to the stabbing and able to be at his side when he died.
They attended court throughout the seven-week trial which, as a mark of respect, did not sit on the day that would have been his 21st birthday.
The court heard that immediately after the stabbing, Mustafa and Willis sought refuge at a friend’s house, disguising their features en route.
They also disposed of the knife, tried to burn clothing and threw belongings on a train track.
None of the three defendants have any previous convictions.
Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Chief Inspector Neil Kimber of Kent Police said after the sentencing: ‘This was a shocking incident in which a young man lost his life due to his concerns for the safety of his friends. His brave efforts contrast starkly with the criminal actions of two teenagers intent on violence.
‘Their appalling behaviour has left a family mourning the needless loss of a much-loved young man with his future in front of him. The conduct of Mustafa’s mother was also deplorable and she should be thoroughly ashamed of her actions. I can only hope the sentences allow the victim’s relatives and friends some closure following Thomas’ tragic death.’