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An illegal immigrant has been jailed for at least 26 years for murdering a “kind and peace-loving” carer in London’s Hyde Park.
Homeless Hani Khalaf, 22, survived on the streets of Britain by stealing food and clothes after arriving in the back of a lorry posing as a Syrian asylum seeker in August 2014, the Old Bailey heard.
He was bailed for shoplifting hours before he kicked, punched and stamped 62-year-old Jairo Medina to death near Speakers’ Corner on the evening of August 11 last year.
He pocketed the carer’s cash and stole his mobile phone, which he tried to sell on hours later.
Following a retrial, the Egyptian national was found guilty of murder and he was jailed for life with a minimum of 26 years.
Judge Wendy Joseph QC said Khalaf was sent back into the community time and again because of a failure to deport him and Mr Medina paid for it “with his life”.
She said: “It is clear that Hani Khalaf, having absconded, came to the attention of authorities on at least six occasions.
“On each, he was re-bailed because they could not make arrangements for securing his deportation in a reasonable amount of time.”
The result was that Khalaf, was sent out into the community again and again and told to report to authorities, which he never did.
Judge Joseph said he showed “no respect for the law” and became a danger to himself and others.
The court heard Khalaf is likely to be deported to serve his sentence in Egypt once he is no longer a category A prisoner.
The day before he met Mr Medina, he was arrested for shoplifting at the Superdry clothes shop in Regent Street and gave police a false name he had previously given to immigration officials.
He appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court and was bailed hours before the killing.
On August 11, Khalaf met Mr Medina in Hyde Park, where the victim had gone hoping to have sex with a younger man, the court heard.
Mr Medina’s body was discovered early the next day by a groundsman on his way to work.
Khalaf was arrested on August 16 for fare evasion and told police he was Hanni Hassan and later gave the name Khalaf, prosecutor Oliver Glasgow QC said.
Then on August 18, he was arrested again for shoplifting and taken to Charing Cross police station, where an “eagle-eyed” police officer recognised him from CCTV as the suspect seen with Mr Medina on the night of his death.
Mr Medina, from Chelsea, west London, was originally from Colombia and was a single gay man, the court heard.
He was described by his former partner as “a carefree and very generous person” who would go to the Quebec gay bar in Marble Arch and would sometimes pay male prostitutes for sex, jurors heard.
The prosecution argued the motive for the killing was to steal, although it was suggested on behalf of the defendant it may have resulted from an unrequited sexual advance.
Judge Joseph agreed it was a “murder for gain” regardless of Mr Medina’s reasons for going into the park and befriending his killer.
She said: “Having seen and heard Mr Khalaf and his description of how he lived it is beyond credible belief that Mr Khalaf went with Mr Medina into the park thinking all Mr Medina wanted was to offer kindness and consolation to a young man.”
In victim impact statements read to court, Mr Medina’s friends and family spoke of a kind and peaceful man.
His brother, German Cardona, said he was given an award in 2015 for his “service to care in London” and had devoted his life to support his family at home, including his 86-year-old father who died within months of the murder.
Close friend Mahmood Khan described him as “generous and loving” and said: “If Mr Medina was alive he would probably forgive the person who had committed this crime.”
Giovanni Raimondi, another friend, said: “Jairo may have seemed outwardly happy and content but he was effectively quite lonely and looking for companionship and someone to share his life with.
“He paid a high price that night in his pursuit for companionship with young men.
“He was known to all who knew him as kind and peace loving. He always believed in living peacefully and did not deserve to die in that way.”
Additional reporting by Press Association.
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