"They have taken my whole life away from me"
Two teenagers have been sentenced to life in prison for killing another teenager who they mistook for a rival gang member.
Vanushan Balakrishnan and Ilyas Suleiman, now both 18, stabbed Rishmeet Singh 15 times in November 2021 after chasing him down a road in Southall, west London.
The teenagers were forced into Class A drug dealing after racking up debts to gang leaders.
Balakrishnan had a previous conviction for possessing a Rambo knife, for which he was given a referral order in February 2021.
On the night of the murder, they took two blades and travelled on bikes to a rival gang’s territory.
They wore facemasks and put their hoods up to hide their identities.
It was heard that they deliberately set out for a “glide” – an attack on enemy gang territory.
They saw Rishmeet and his friends and mistook them for members of the rival gang.
Balakrishnan and Suleiman chased them through a park and “ferociously attacked” the 16-year-old after he tripped and fell.
A member of the public alerted police and paramedics, however, Rishmeet died at the scene, having suffered “unsurvivable” stab wounds to his head and chest.
His attackers were caught on CCTV fleeing and were identified by their clothes.
After they fled, the pair changed their clothes at a gang safehouse and returned to their homes by taxi.
Balakrishnan took a photograph of the blood-stained murder weapon after the attack and posted it on social media.
After his arrest, police recovered a notebook containing drill rap lyrics glorifying the murder.
Balakrishnan and Suleiman were convicted of murder in March 2023.
Judge Sarah Munro described Rishmeet as “an entirely innocent victim” who came to the UK with his mother and grandmother in 2019.
They fled Afghanistan after the Taliban killed Rishmeet’s father and attempted to kidnap the teenager.
Rishmeet was a carer for his mother, who has polio, and his family relied on him for English translation.
The judge said: “All who knew Rismeet spoke very fondly of him.
“It defies belief that you two sought him out to kill him.”
The teenager was described by friends as “a good person who would not harm a fly”, “pure in heart” and “a humble guy”.
He was attending college and hoped to become a police officer.
His mother Gulinder said: “Rishmeet was my only child, and he had his whole life ahead of him.
“I feel I have lost everything and my life is over.
“Rishmeet was well loved by all that knew him, he was a faithful boy and was very caring in his nature.
“I will never recover from this evil act. I have lost my husband and now I have lost my only child, my son.”
“Justice is finally served for Rishmeet but their sentence will never be enough for me.
“They have taken my whole life away from me and Rishmeet will never come home again.”
Rishmeet’s attackers received life sentences.
Balakrishnan was sentenced to serve a minimum of 24 years.
Balakrishnan was also sentenced after he pleaded guilty to a charge of inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent in relation to an attack on an inmate while on remand.
The attack, which happened in July 2022, left the victim with severe brain damage.
Suleiman must serve at least 21 years.