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man who attempted to flee the country after killing a stranger who tried to act as “peacemaker” on a night out in London, has been convicted of murder.

The father-of-two collapsed outside the Rolling Stock club in Kingsland Road after the attack shortly before 6.30am on Saturday, November 24, 2018. He died two hours after he was admitted to hospital.

Tyla Gopaul, 22, from Islington, was convicted of Mr Sharif-Ali’s murder at the Old Bailey on Friday.

Mr Sharif-Ali, who set up an online takeaway business  with a friend and had returned to university,  was at the Rolling Stock in Shoreditch with two men he had befriended after going out the previous evening.

CCTV from inside the bar shows Gopaul and a friend hanging around the bar area at the same time as Mr Sharif-Ali and the two men he befriended. At about 5.15am Gopaul and Mr Sharif-Ali are seen talking with each other. They appear to end a conversation with a handshake.

At around 6am one of the men with Mr Sharif-Ali got into a verbal disagreement with Gopaul’s friend. Witnesses said they heard the man shout to Gopaul’s friend: “Come down here, let’s sort this out.”

Mr Sharif-Ali tried to come between the two men but witnesses said Gopaul came running toward the group shouting “what, what, what” as he pulled out a knife. The Metropolitan Police said Gopaul was seen “flaying the knife around” and “lunging” toward the group a number of times.

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Tyla Gopaul fled the country after he stabbed Zakaria Sharif-Ali 

/ Metropolitan Police )

When Mr Sharif-Ali tried to come between the men he was stabbed by Gopaul.

The father-of-two collapsed after the attack shortly before 6.30am on Saturday. He was rushed to hospital and underwent emergency surgery but died two hours after he was admitted.

Gopaul fled the scene and met up with a woman called Destiny Bannerman who helped him make plans to leave the country.

Bannerman, 19, also from Islington, pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice and assisting an offender on June 11. She will be sentenced on Thursday, November 26.

Gopaul caught a flight to Turkey on November 24 where he then travelled to Cyprus. He was arrested on November 5 last year after having been extradited from Cyrpus on a European Arrest Warrant.

The 22-year-old will also be sentenced on November 26.

Detective Inspector Rita Tierney, from the Met’s Specialist Crime Command condemned the “senseless attack”.

She said: “The facts of this case demonstrate how quickly and seriously an incident can escalate with terrible results once a decision is taken to use a knife. Tragically, Zakaria was acting as a peacemaker during this event and was trying to calm the situation down. Tyla Gopaul tried to claim that it was an accident despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

“The suffering of Zakaria’s family has been prolonged by the actions of Tyla Gopaul. Not only responsible for Zakaria’s death but then fleeing the country in a bid to avoid facing justice for his crime. They have had to wait knowing the man responsible for Zakaria’s death has been walking free abroad.

“I hope this sends a clear signal, the Metropolitan Police will continue to pursue anyone who thinks that leaving the country will stop them from having to answer for their crimes.”

Mr Sharif-Ali was the oldest of seven children. His youngest sister said he was the “nicest, kindest and the most helpful person you could ever wish to meet”.

She said: “As crazy as it sounds me and all my other siblings would fight and argue just like siblings do, but he would never. With us, he was the older brother who looked out for us all; he was very protective of us all, he was our role model.

“Zak was twenty-six years old and married with a six-year-old son and a three-year-old daughter. They both adored Zak, they loved him so much. His eldest is aware that his dad is gone, every night he prays to God and tells him to protect his dad. Knowing his children will never know how much he loved them breaks my heart.

“When we, as a family, lost Zakaria, I can’t even begin to explain how we were all feeling, it felt unreal. We couldn’t believe he was gone. At that moment, it felt like our whole world had stopped. I am grateful to have known my brother for all my years, I wish I could have a lifetime with him. I struggle every day to understand why this happened.”

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