'Public Spirited' Syrian Murder Victim Killed After Interrupting Crime

Police have paid tribute to a Syrian man murdered in Belfast city centre in 2017 while trying to prevent a crime.

30-year-old Hazem Ahmed Grier was near a fast-food restaurant on the Dublin Road when he was stabbed in the chest when he interrupted Callin Wilson who was tampering with a bicycle on the evening of Sunday 04 June.

20-year-old Callin plead guilty to the murder yesterday, Tuesday 26 March, at Laganside Crown Court and was sentenced to a minimum of nine years imprisonment. He was also sentenced to 12 months imprisonment for charges relating to indecent images, which will be served concurrently.

Hazem had moved to Carrickfergus after leaving his home in Turkey to build a new life in Northern Ireland.

Members of the public attempted to administer first aid and save his life following the attack, but he died shortly after arriving in hospital.

Speaking about the sentencing, Detective Chief Inspector Pete Montgomery from the PSNI's Major Investigation Team, said he didn't fully understand the "pointless" murder or what motivated Mr Wilson's actions.

"He has shown little remorse," DCI Montgomery commented. "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. 
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"Police arrested him a short distance away in a local shop only a few minutes after he had fatally stabbed Hazem, where he had both the murder weapon and Hazem's mobile phone in his possession. 

"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. 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. 

"Hazem's brave actions have tragically cost him his life. He was originally from Syria and he moved to Northern Ireland 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. 

"He was a much loved son and brother, and while nothing will ease their pain and suffering, I hope today's sentencing brings them some degree of comfort that this dangerous man is now behind bars."

After the killer was sentenced, Rami Ghreir paid tribute to his younger brother. He said: "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. 

"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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