Date: 29 Oct 2017
Place: North End, Croydon
Aren Mali was stabbed in the neck in North End, Croydon on 29 October 2017 at about 7pm during an altercation.
Two 17-year-old youths, Youth A and Youth B were tried for his murder but acquitted. They were first tried in February 2018, however, Youth A was acquitted on 9 March due to a lack of evidence and the jury failed to reach a verdict on Youth B and a retrial was arranged but Youth B was also acquitted at the second trial on 5 September 2018, after he claimed that he had stabbed Aren Mali in self-defence. Both of the youths had pleaded not guilty to murder as well as not guilty to possessing offensive weapons.
It was said that Aren Mali was stabbed whilst trying to break up a confrontation between a group of youths and his friend.
Youth B said that he had had a knife with him for self-defence and that he had stabbed Aren Mali with it accidently as they were involved in a scuffle.
After being stabbed in the neck Aren Mali was able to run away about a 100m whilst being chased by his attackers before he collapsed. Paramedics were called out to the scene but Aren Mali was pronounced dead at the scene.
His cause of death was given as being due to a single stab wound.
The court heard that Aren Mali had been with a 16-year-old friend who was on his bicycle near the McDonald's restaurant in North End when an altercation took place with some other youths. It was said that some of the other youths had tried to 'Check' Aren Mali's friend before Aren Mali arrived by asking him where he was from. It was heard that one of the youth's had said, 'where you from?' and, 'I swear you took my bike'.
It was heard that a short while later Aren Mali and his friend came across the group of other youth's again at which time the two youth's tried for murder, Youth A and Youth B, were part of. It was said that Youth B had been carrying a knife and that Youth A appeared to have had something in his hand. It was heard that when Aren Mali's friend saw that that Youth B had a knife in his hand that he became emotional and aggressive and that Aren Mali tried to calm him down and diffuse the situation.
Aren Mali's friend said that he had accepted that he had been the aggressor and had reacted when he had seen Youth B pull out a knife, saying that he 'went mad' in response and that it was Aren Mali that had moved between him and the other youths to calm the situation down and stop him going towards Youth B with the knife. He said that Aren Mali told him to relax but said that he would not listen.
It was said then that Aren Mali's friend had ridden his bicycle towards the youths and then punched Youth B after which the knife was shown again.
It was said then that Aren Mali's friend moved off towards the HMV store where he stood behind a bystander whilst Aren Mali ran off towards West Croydon station whilst being chased by the two youths. It was thought that Aren Mali had been stabbed at some point during the chase but he did not collapse immediately. His friend said that he shouted out to Aren Mali, 'run, run, run' but that Aren Mali then fell, having been 'shanked'.
It was said that at some point in the chase Youth B caught up with Aren Mali and dragged him to the ground after which Aren Mali got up again briefly and then collapsed again to the pavement.
At that stage the two youths ran away, chased briefly by Aren Mali's friend before his friend returned to check on Aren Mali and then call for an ambulance.
A witness that saw the incident said that he had seen a group of about seven or eight youths together with which Aren Mali was present and said that he thought that there was going to be a fight. He said however that he saw one of the youths say to the other 'allow it', which meant 'stop it' and that about ten seconds later he heard a youth screaming in pain. He said that as he went towards the screaming youth he saw more and more blood. The witness said that when he got to the youth, who was Aren Mali, he was alone except for another youth that was with him, thought to have been his friend, who was shouting for someone to call an ambulance.
It was heard at the trial that Youth B had fled to Gateshead near Newcastle shortly after the incident and changed the SIM card in his phone and also had his hair cut.
When Youth A was arrested in Croydon on Friday 10 November 2017 a pair of his trainers were examined and were found to have spots of Aren Mali's blood on them. When he was questioned he replied, 'I deny the allegation of murder. I deny being in possession of a knife on the 29th of October 2017. I had no knowledge that any persons I was with had possession of a knife. The only items I had in my possession were my mobile, my house key and my Oyster card'.
When Youth B was arrested in Newcastle on Thursday 9 November 2017 and questioned he made no reply.
At the trial, when Youth B gave evidence, he said that at one point he thought that Aren Mali had stabbed himself although he later admitted that he knew that he had stabbed Aren Mali. He admitted presenting a knife on the evening of 29 October 2017 but said that he had only done so in self-defence because he had felt intimidated and pressured. He added that Aren Mali's friend had tried to mug him in West Croydon about a week earlier, saying that Aren Mali's friend had been with two other youths at the time and had threatened him with a knife and told him to 'empty his pouch'. He said that he didn't report the incident to the police because he was scared of the consequences but instead started to carry a knife for protection. He said, 'I carried it [a flip knife] sometimes when I came out by myself because I felt threatened and had heard stories about them [the alleged muggers] stabbing people'.
Youth B said that when he met Aren Mali's friend again on the evening of 29 October 2017 outside McDonald's on North End he attempted to 'squash the beef' and the altercation started. He said that he only pulled the knife out to scare Aren Mali's friend, Aren Mali and the three other youths that they had been with.
The court heard that at that stage Aren Mali was telling his friend to 'leave it' whilst Youth A was telling Youth B to 'allow it' and 'relax'.
Youth B said that after the initial confrontation that he and his friends walked away but that they met Aren Mali and his friend shortly after outside the Holland & Barrett health food shop at which time Aren Mali's friend punched him and so he presented his knife again. Youth B said, 'I was scared and I thought I was going to get shanked [stabbed]. I had a knife in my pocket, for protection, from the people who had robbed me', adding that he had felt pressured and intimidated. He said that he pulled his pocket knife out of his pocket because he thought they were going to stab him.
Youth B said, 'I didn’t intend to cause serious harm to him [Aren Mali's friend], I just wanted them to leave me alone. I just wanted to make them back off. It was just reaction [to use his knife]. I didn’t feel like I had a choice'.
He said that he didn't realise that Aren Mali had died until the following day when friend's told him on the Snap Chat social media platform and he read about it in the Advertiser newspaper. He said that he had wanted to hand himself in, but the prosecution said that he fled to Newcastle to avoid arrest.
When Youth B was asked about how he felt knowing that 'the contact of his knife' had led to Aren Mali's death, he said, 'I feel sad and guilty. If I went back to that day, I would want it to change'.
The prosecution had opened their case by saying, 'Aren Mali was just 17 years old at the time of his murder. He was stabbed in the neck. The attack took place in the middle of Croydon. The effect of the knife attack upon him was overwhelming. There was immediate and devastating blood loss. He survived for just 100 metres or so, as he was running away he was still being pursued by the defendants. He then collapsed and within moments he was dead. The terrible reality is that this was a knife attack for no good reason or sense whatsoever. It killed in no more than moments'.
When Youth B was acquitted at the second trial it was said that there was anger in the court and that Aren Mali's father had to be escorted from the court.
Aren Mali was from Kenley and had formerly played for Whyteleafe and Leatherhead football clubs.