Walthamstow murder: Drug addict killed man while on court bail for ‘vicious’ axe attack

·3-min read
 ( Met Police)
( Met Police)

A drug addict has been found guilty of murdering a man while on court bail for a "vicious" axe attack.

Richard Hand stabbed Yassar Moussa, 37, in the neck in August last year then dumped his naked body in a park near to his home in Walthamstow, east London.

At the time of the killing, Hand had been on bail charged with attacking another man eight months earlier.

Following an Old Bailey trial, Hand, 43, was found guilty of murdering Mr Moussa, the attempted murder of his first victim Graeme Bennett and having an offensive weapon.

The court had heard how Hand attacked Mr Moussa at his home in Falmouth Way, Walthamstow, on August 22.

Afterwards, he attempted to cover his tracks by stripping Mr Moussa's body and covering him in bleach before stuffing him in a suitcase.

The next day, Hand dragged the case to St James Park and hid the body in heavy undergrowth near a small brook.

It was only by chance that the body was discovered on August 24 as Environment Agency workers cut back the undergrowth in the park for the first time in 10 years.

Prosecutor Tim Cray QC said: "The body had been put there to conceal it and, save for the long odds chance that this was the first day in a decade for clearing the bank, it might never have been found, or found in any state that would have led to the identification of the victim."

 (Met Police)
(Met Police)

An examination of the body found Mr Moussa had been fatally stabbed in the neck and a wound to his knee suggested a failed attempt at dismemberment.

The body smelt strongly of bleach, as if it had recently been washed.

Police used CCTV to track the victim's last movements to the defendant's address.

His phone was last used in the vicinity after he had been in contact with Hand.

Later, the defendant was seen asking about bleach in a nearby shop, jurors were told.

On August 23, he was caught on CCTV dragging the heavy suitcase towards the park.

On the return trip, the suitcase appeared "much lighter", the court was told.

When officers spoke to Hand, he claimed to have heard the victim was strangled or stabbed in the neck and dumped naked - details that were not publicly known.

Moussa's blood was identified inside the defendant's flat and his clothes, a bent knife and cleaning material were found in communal bins.

Hand denied being responsible for the killing of Mr Moussa, who he knew as a fellow drug user.

He claimed two other men had been at his flat and he returned to find a pile of clothes and blood stains in his living room.

Jurors were told that at the time of the killing, Hand had been on court bail for the attempted murder of Mr Bennett on January 29 last year.

The prosecution alleged Hand had been at the victim's home in Streatham Hill, south London, when he launched an axe attack "out of the blue".

Mr Bennett, 43, who had invited Hand to help him hang some pictures, was struck twice to the head - fracturing his skull - and once on the left wrist.

Mr Cray said: "This was a vicious attack by the defendant that Mr Bennett was lucky to have survived."

Despite incriminating forensic evidence, the defendant again denied being responsible.

Following his conviction on Friday, Hand was remanded in custody to be sentenced on October 19.

Detective Chief Inspector Laurence Smith, the lead investigator, said: “Richard Hand is a dangerous man who has launched two unprovoked attacks on men who thought they were his friends.

“I am glad he has now been brought to justice and is likely to be sentenced to serve a significant portion of the rest of his life in jail.”

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