Life for Holloway killer who fled Britain on Eurostar

A REMORSELESS killer who fled the country on a Eurostar train after stabbing his neighbour to death was jailed for at least 15 years today (Friday).

Yamine Ladghem-Chikouche, 24, stabbed Scotsman Duncan MacRae, 55, in the back in the hallway of a block of flats in Caledonian Road, Holloway, after a row that lasted less than 60 seconds.

The attack was unprovoked and investigators have been unable to pinpoint a motive, the Old Bailey heard.

Ladghem-Chikouche was caught on camera grinning as he passed through security checks at St Pancras International station before fleeing to France.

The French Algerian fled on July 15 last year before the emergency services arrived.

Mr MacRae, originally from the Isle of Lewis, bled to death at the scene after the knife wound pierced his aorta.

He also suffered a second wound to the back and a blow to the head.

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Residents at the Caledonian Road flats, a hostel for the homeless, identified Ladghem-Chikouche as the killer and a European arrest warrant was issued.

By March 1 this year his solicitor contacted the police to say he was willing to hand himself in and three days later he surrendered to a police station in northern France.

He was flown back to the UK on March 17 and charged with Mr MacRae’s murder.

Ladghem-Chikouche denied murder, claiming he stabbed the victim by accident as he waved the knife, but was convicted by a majority of 11 to one after a two week trial at the Old Bailey.

He was jailed for life and ordered to serve a minimum term of 15 years.

Judge Martin Stephens QC said: “You carried out a vicious, cowardly attack on a man 30 years older than you.

“Mr MacRae was a harmless and well liked person in a house where you both spent time.

“His family and others have spoken of his qualities and quite clearly his loss was deeply felt by many.

“You stabbed him in what I am satisfied was an unprovoked attack. One wound was to the top of his head, this required a considerable degree of force tending towards severe, said the pathologist.

“And there were two distinct thrusts of the knife in to his back, one wound cut in to his aorta and caused his instantaneous death.

“You have shown no remorse then or now.”

Prosecutor Mark Fenhalls said there had been a petty row between the victim and another resident at the flats around 6.15pm on July 15.

Mr MacRae had been bothering the man for heroin, but was told a dealer would not supply him.

Ladghem-Chikouche had been staying with another resident on the ground floor of the flats.

Explaining to the court why he had gone on the run, he said: “I was shocked, I just wanted to go back to France. I needed my family at that point.

“I was really scared. I was scared of going to prison. I panicked and at the time I needed some support.”

After Ladghem-Chikouche was convicted, Detective Inspector Mark Lawson of the Homicide & Serious Crime Command said: “This was a cowardly and unprovoked attack on a frail man.

“Duncan had mistakenly been blamed for highlighting drug dealing at the house in which he had lived peacefully for several years.

“Yamine Ladghem-Chikouche took advantage of the vulnerable residents in order to sell drugs from the premises and when challenged stabbed Duncan MacRae to death.

“He has never shown the slightest hint of remorse for Duncan’s death. I would like to praise the dignity of Duncan’s family who have had to sit through a painful trial and at times seen attempts by Yamine’s counsel to assassinate his character.

“I would also like to commend the witnesses in this case who supported the investigation throughout and whose testimony was vital in securing the conviction.

The victim’s brother, Robert MacRae, said: “I would like to express our thanks to the investigation team who have robustly sought out the truth and for making our journey at this difficult time smoother, providing support and giving us hope and strength to go on.

“We would also like to thank the Crown Prosecution Service for working so hard towards obtaining justice for us. Duncan will always live on in our memory.”