'Outwardly normal' teen killer with 'worrying interest in knives' posed with huge blade before murdering Alfie Lewis, 15

21 June 2024, 15:39 | Updated: 21 June 2024, 15:43

Bardia Shojeifard
Bardia Shojeifard. Picture: West Yorkshire Police

By Kit Heren

A teenager who murdered 15-year-old schoolboy Alfie Lewis was "outwardly normal" but showed a "worrying interest in knives" before the attack.

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Bardia Shojaeifard, 15, killed Alfie near St Margaret’s Primary School in Horsforth, near Leeds, in November, and was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum term of 13 years on Friday.

Shojaiefard had denied murder and claimed he was acting in self-defence, but this was discounted by the jury. He had brought the knife to school the day of the murder and attacked Alfie after the end of the school day.

He then dropped the knife and was spotted on CCTV and dashcam footage running from the scene. Alfie's blood was found on the blade, which was linked to a set at Shojaeifard's house, and on the killer's clothing.

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Police found pictures on Shojaeifard's phone of him posing with knives, including a doctored image where a blade had been photoshopped into his hand.

Another picture showed him with a scarf over his mouth while holding a large knife. The photo was taken while Shojaeifard was visiting relatives in Iran last year, and his father claimed the blade was a model.

The father said their relative makes knives and they had been discussing their Iranian cultural heritage with their children - but prosecutors said it was evidence of Shojaeifard's interest in the weapons.

Bardia Shojaeifard
Bardia Shojaeifard. Picture: West Yorkshire Police

The judge, Mr Justice Cotter, said Shojaeifard was "objectively an ordinary 14-year-old, from a loving and supportive family undertaking entirely appropriate activities when out of school".

He added of the boy: "He has no connection with gangs or indeed any negative peer pressure, no involvement with drugs or mental health issues

"However he did have a worrying interest in knives as revealed by photographs on his phone including photoshopping knives into his hand."

Shojaeifard, who was found guilty earlier this year following a trial at Leeds Crown Court, had previously been granted anonymity because of his age, but the judge said on Friday that there was a strong public interest in knowing who killed Alfie.

Mr Justice Cotter added that this would set an example to those who "believe possessing a knife is some sort of badge of honour".

He said that naming Shojaeifard would add to the "vitally important debate about the scourge of knife crime, among young people in particular".

Bardia Shojaeifard
Bardia Shojaeifard. Picture: West Yorkshire Police

Mr Justice Cotter said the public would be wondering how a young boy "from a loving and supportive family" could commit such an "extraordinary" crime "without forewarning or any warning signs save for some pictures of knives on his phone".

The fatal injury was a 14cm deep wound to Alfie's chest which punctured his heart, according to a post-mortem.

Alfie's family said they were disappointed by the sentence handed down to Shojaeifard.

They added: "No sentence will ever give us the justice we want and deserve; to have Alfie home with us. There is no punishment that can be given that will take away our pain."

Alfie Lewis
Alfie Lewis. Picture: Family handout

The family said: "Alfie, your absence is felt every second of every day and our lives are forever changed by what has been taken from us. We will never be complete again. We are broken.

"All we can do now is speak your name every day, spend our time reminiscing on the joy you brought us, and live with the aching hearts that we are left with. You brought joy and happiness to us every day with your jokes, stories, dancing and kindness. 

"Alfie, your mum loved you for 15 years and thought she would have you here with her for the rest of her life. We love you and we miss you and we will do forever."

Shojaeifard had said that he was acting in self-defence when he pulled out a knife. But prosecutor Craig Hassall said that all of the witnesses were consistent in refuting this defence.

"None of them suggest that Alfie was in any way the aggressor, none of them suggest it was Alfie that attacked," he said.

"None of the witnesses heard Alfie shouting at or threatening [the defendant]. Not even [the defendant] says Alfie shouted at or threatened him."

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Tributes left on a bench on Broadgate Lane, Horsforth, following the death of 15-year-old boy Alfie Lewis
Tributes left on a bench on Broadgate Lane, Horsforth, following the death of 15-year-old boy Alfie Lewis. Picture: Alamy

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Alfie is said to have been involved in two disputes with the defendant, according to a witness.

One was a fight in which he intervened, pushing and telling the defendant off after he hit a girl.

The other was an incident in which the defendant is said to have thrown a firework at Alfie.

On the fatal day, Alfie was walking to meet his friends when he was attacked.

Mr Hassall told the court earlier: "Alfie did not get as far as meeting any of his friends that day.

"He was approached by (the defendant), and stabbed twice - once in the chest and once in the leg.

"He collapsed and died in the road close to the primary school in full view of scores of pupils leaving school and the people who were waiting to collect them."

Mr Hassall said: "(The defendant) then fled the scene, dropping the murder weapon in the road close to the primary school."

A nearby resident said after the stabbing: "I was very sad when I heard what had happened, it sounds like it's a waste of two lives."

A parent at the school, who did not wish to be named, added: "It's horrible. It's shocking because it's a nice area.

"You read about these things happening in London and you think it's dangerous to be a teenager there, but you don't think it would happen here.

"I just keep thinking about the parents.

"He probably went out this morning and they were expecting him to come home, and he's not there."

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