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Sunday 3 December 2023 Dublin: 5°C
PSNI Photo of Hazem Ahmed Ghrier

Man sentenced to minimum 9 years in prison for murder of Syrian national

Callin Wilson (20), currently of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty to the murder of Hazem Ahmed Ghreir.

A MAN HAS BEEN sentenced to at least nine years in prison for the murder of a Syrian man in Belfast in June 2017. 

Callin Wilson (20), currently of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty to the murder of Hazem Ahmed Ghreir on the night of 4 June 2017 on the Dublin Road in Belfast. 

Wilson was also sentenced to 12 months imprisonment for the charges regarding the indecent images, which is to run concurrently.

Hazem – was a 30-year-old fast food delivery driver – was near the outlet where he worked when he was stabbed in the chest as he interrupted Wilson, who was tampering with a bicycle.

Members of the public tried to administer first aid at the scene until emergency services arrived, but Hazem died shortly after arriving at hospital. 

Commenting on the sentencing, Detective Chief Inspector Pete Montgomery, from the PSNI’s Major Investigation Team, said his thoughts were with Hazem’s parents – who lived in Turkey – and his brother Rami – who he lived with in Carrickfergus after the pair travelled to Northern Ireland together to build a new life.

“His murder was pointless and we still don’t fully understand what motivated Mr Wilson to kill him. He has shown little remorse,” Montgomery said. 

“Callin Wilson, who was unemployed and living in Belfast at the time, was tampering with a bicycle at the back of  a hotel in the area when he was disturbed by Hazem.

“I suspect this public-spirited Syrian man was trying to prevent a crime from taking place when he was stabbed in the chest with a knife.

As Hazem lay on the ground dying, Callin Wilson then rifled through his pockets and stole his mobile phone before fleeing the scene.  

Montgomery said that police arrested Wilson a short distance away at a local shop just a few minutes after he had murdered Hazem. He had both the murder weapon and Hazem’s mobile phone in his possession. 

CCTV footage from the scene shows officers apprehending Wilson outside the shop.

Psni SocialMedia / YouTube

“Hard to comprehend”

“To stab someone in the chest for no obvious reason and then steal their belongings as they lie dying in the street is something that most of us will find hard to comprehend,” Montgomery said. 

Callin Wilson’s actions display an abhorrent lack of respect for the life of another human being and today I welcome that someone who is assessed as dangerous has been put behind bars.

Montgomery went on to say that Hazem’s brave actions had cost him his life. 

He was originally from Syria, but had moved to Northern Ireland to “hoping for a better life where he could feel safe”.

“Sadly, it was in Northern Ireland that his life was cruelly cut short by a single stab wound to the heart,” Montgomery said.

He said he hoped that the sentencing brought his family “some degree of comfort that this dangerous man is now behind bars”.

In a statement, Hazem’s brother Rami said that he was “kind, generous, hard-working, well-educated and he made friends wherever he went – people were drawn to him like a magnet”.

“Hazem thought we could have a good life here. It was hard being away from our family and Hazem missed our parents but he kept smiling everyday and looked forward to talking to them,” he said.

I am so sad Hazem is not here and it’s hard without him, especially after spending every day with him. My parents are very upset but they are thankful to the investigation team for everything they have done.  

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