A KILLER who shot a teenager dead when he fired a gun into the air at a 24th birthday party had a previous conviction for possessing a fake gun, The Star can reveal.
Abdi Omar, aged 25, of Lopham Street, Burngreave, Sheffield, was jailed for 18 months in June 2005 for possessing an imitation firearm.
He was jailed again yesterday - this time for life - and told he will spend at least 30 years behind bars after being found guilty of murdering Deeq Ali, 18, and possessing a firearm.
Deeq, a popular Sheffield Hallam University student who police said came from a ‘nice, hardworking family’, was behind Omar when he pulled out the weapon and fired it over his shoulder at the Spital Hill Plaza in Burngreave, not caring who he hit.
Sentencing him to life imprisonment, Judge Roger Keen told Omar that, while he might not have intended to kill anyone, he knew there were people behind him when he fired the gun.
After the shooting Omar - who was angry at being refused entry to the club earlier in the evening - fled but was later arrested.
He asked officers: “What are you arresting me for? I have done nothing. I was watching football at home.”
Omar claimed the gun went off accidentally as he was being jostled towards the exit, but later changed his story telling officers he fired the weapon to frighten others by aiming over their heads.
During the trial witnesses described Omar as being ‘angry, aggressive and drunk’.
Earlier in the evening he was seen taking out the gun and firing it into the air outside Burngreave Library.
Trouble started when party-goer Soloman Gebremesekel, who had earlier denied entry to a group of Somali youths including Omar, suspected he was carrying a weapon and confronted him.
Prosecutor Michael Shorrock QC said: “At that point a number of others appeared and told Mr Gebremesekel to leave him alone – one of those was the victim, Mr Ali.
“They were telling Omar to leave and pushing him towards the door.”
Witnesses heard Deeq telling Omar to ‘chill out’ moments before the shot was fired.
Mr Shorrock said: “There was a great deal of confusion and hysteria within the Plaza. People were terrified, crying and screaming.”
Omar was arrested in nearby Andover Street. He was three times the drink drive limit.
The gun was retrieved from bushes near his home and, when officers searched his address, they found his clothes soaking in a bucket of water.
Deeq’s murder was the second tragedy to strike his family in a matter of months.
Just seven months earlier his cousin Abdulla Awil Mohammed, also 18 and from Burngreave, died after a car mounted a pavement in Darnall and struck a road sign which crashed down and killed him. The driver Aminur Rahman, then 20, of Jubilee Road, Darnall, admitted manslaughter and was sentenced to eight years in a young offenders’ institution.
Deeq’s sister Sagal Ali, 22, spoke to The Star about her family’s heartbreak.
She said Deeq was her mother’s only son and the youngest of her four children.
The straight-A student was studying for a degree in human geography at Sheffield Hallam University.
She said: “Words cannot describe how heartbroken we are.
“We were all very proud of him - he was a role model for other young people and a real family man who would do anything to help anyone.”
Detective Superintendent David Barraclough said: “This was a violent and senseless death, Deeq was shot and killed through no fault of his own. Abdi Omar turned up uninvited to a private party inside the Plaza in possession of a loaded sawn off shotgun.
“Our thoughts are with Deeq’s family.”
“I am grateful to the many people who came forward to provide evidence about the events and circumstances surrounding Deeq’s death and for the support from the residents of Burngreave during the investigation.”
In a statement Deeq’s family said: “We want to thank the local community for assisting the police and thank South Yorkshire Police for the investigation and all their assistance.”
Related link: 30 years for Sheffield sawn off shotgun killing