Belfast Telegraph

Mentally ill murderer who knifed victim in heart may never be freed, court is told

Hazem Ahmed Ghreir was stabbed in the heart on the night of June 4, 2017
Hazem Ahmed Ghreir was stabbed in the heart on the night of June 4, 2017
Killer: Callin Wilson

By Ashleigh McDonald

A 20-year-old man who stabbed a "quiet and calm gentleman" through the heart may never be released from prison, a court has heard.

Callin Wilson, who medical experts agreed has a deep-seated mental abnormality, admitted murdering Hazem Ahmed Ghreir in the centre of Belfast in June 2017, and has already been handed a life sentence.

A hearing was held at Belfast Crown Court yesterday to determine how long Wilson will spend in prison before he is considered eligible for release.

After listening to submissions, Judge Patricia Smyth adjourned the tariff hearing until March 14.

Prior to this, Judge Smyth was told by defence barrister Patrick Lyttle QC that due to Wilson's complex medical history "there is a real possibility in this case that this man may never be released".

The court heard in the aftermath of the fatal stabbing Wilson told lies, and that in the two years since the murder has given inconsistent and different versions of what occurred.

Setting out the Crown case, Neil Connor QC said that on June 4, 2017, Wilson was living at Flax Foyer in Belfast. He was seen on CCTV leaving his accommodation just before 8pm and walking into the city centre. On the same night Mr Ghreir, a Syrian national, was working as a delivery driver for a fast food outlet on the Dublin Road.

Wilson was seen again on CCTV in the Etap Hotel on the Dublin Road at 10.27pm, and three minutes later he is seen appearing to tamper with bikes down the side of the hotel. He walks off at 10.40pm, with a camera picking up Mr Ghreir in the area around 30 seconds later.

It is the Crown case a witness then saw "an encounter" between Wilson and Mr Ghreir, where Mr Ghreir grabbed Wilson's shoulder. The deceased had a phone in his hand, while Wilson's hands were in the front pocket of his hoodie.

Wilson then moved his right hand in a quick movement to Mr Ghreir's chest which caused Mr Ghreir to "appear shocked... and his eyes opened wide".

Wilson walked off in the direction of Little Victoria Street and Mr Ghreir, clutching his chest, stumbled forward but followed Wilson.

While Mr Ghreir was rushed to the RVH, where he was pronounced dead from a single stab wound to his chest at 11.15pm, Wilson walked to a Tesco Express where he was arrested, telling police: "I didn't do anything."

Mr Connor said that due to inconsistencies, it was impossible to determine why Wilson stabbed Mr Ghreir - but said it was the Crown's case the deceased had seen Wilson engaging in criminal activity, such as tampering with the bikes, and "in a public-spirited way" intervened.

Judge Patricia Smyth was told of the devastating effect the death Mr Ghreir has had on his family in Syria and his brother Rami. She was told the brothers travelled to Europe together and settled in Northern Ireland.

Rami Ghreir said his brother had a "magnetic personality", was always helping others and was always smiling, while a colleague described him as "a very quiet and calm gentleman". Following his arrest, Wilson's accommodation was searched and 426 indecent images of children, mostly teenage boys, were found on his laptop.

Defence barrister Patrick Lyttle said the fact that only moderate force was used indicated a lack of intent to kill, as did his lack of criminal record.

Mr Lyttle spoke of his client's long-standing mental issues, saying he "fell between the cracks between child and adolescent care and adult care", and in the period leading to the stabbing Wilson was living an isolated life.

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