Two teenagers have been jailed after a man was fatally stabbed in Tonbridge.
In the early hours of 19th August 2022, 20-year-old Thomas Waugh was sitting on a bench with two friends in Tonbridge Racecourse Park. They were approached by two people they did not know: Rocco Mustafa (right image) who was holding a large knife and Reece Willis (left image).
Mustafa and Willis threatened the three friends and demanded they hand over their mobile phones. The victims attempted to negotiate with the pair until Thomas said he would instead pay them some cash, and ran from the scene.
In Thomas’ absence, his two friends, fearing violence, surrendered a gold chain, a packet of cigarettes and £5 in cash.
At this point Thomas returned holding a stick and caused a distraction to allow his friends to escape. He then ran towards Avebury Avenue pursued by the offenders who caught up with him in a car park, where he was fatally stabbed in the torso by Mustafa.
His friends, concerned for his welfare, returned to locate him and found a member of the public giving first aid until the arrival of paramedics. Following further treatment Thomas died at the scene.
Their appalling behaviour has left a family mourning the needless loss of a much-loved young man with his future in front of him
Detectives were able to prove that Mustafa called his mother, Claire White, on his mobile phone soon after the incident and that she travelled to Tonbridge to collect him. Due to the presence of a large number of police officers in the town she returned home and collected him the following morning.
An investigation was launched by the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate and enquiries by detectives swiftly identified Mustafa and Willis as responsible for Thomas’ death. They were both arrested on 21st August 2022.
Two days later, the Crown Prosecution Service authorised a charge of murder whilst acting together, for both of them. They were also charged with two robberies and an attempted robbery.
White was also arrested on 21 August and later charged with assisting an offender.
On 27 January 2023, Mustafa of Chipstead Valley Road, Coulsdon, Greater London appeared before Maidstone Crown Court where he pleaded guilty to all the charges.
Willis, of Barden Park Road, Tonbridge entered not guilty pleas. He was convicted on Tuesday 11 April of all the charges, including murder, following a trial at Maidstone Crown Court. White, of Chipstead Valley Road, Coulsdon, who had pleaded not guilty to assisting an offender was convicted on the same date.
On Friday 21st July, Mustafa, aged 18 was sentenced to a total of 18 years and 215 days’ imprisonment. Willis, aged 17 was jailed for 14 years and 33 days and White, aged 48, received three years’ imprisonment.
Senior Investigating Officer, DCI Neil Kimber, said ‘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’.