Man convicted of murdering teenager and hiding body in attic for eight months
A father nicknamed The Magician is facing life behind bars for murdering a teenager and hiding his body in his attic for eight months.
Gary Hopkins, 37, hacked 17-year-old Abdi Ali to death at the home he shared with his partner and their three children in Enfield, north London.
Abdi, a drug dealer linked to the Get Money Gang (GMG), was hit over the head with a claw hammer and repeatedly stabbed with a 16cm knife on December 21 2017.
Window cleaner Hopkins then bundled the 5ft 2in teenager in a duvet cover and hid him in the attic with the murder weapons.
Following an Old Bailey trial, a jury found Hopkins guilty of murder after 16 hours of deliberations.
Hopkins had admitted perverting the course of justice and preventing the lawful burial of a body.
The jury cleared his partner Stacy Docherty, 28, of murder but was unable to reach verdicts on the two other charges.
Judge Nicholas Hilliard QC discharged jurors and adjourned sentencing of Hopkins until April 26.
The court heard how Hopkins took about £400 from the victim to give his own family a good Christmas and took them to Leominster, in Herefordshire, to lay low.
Despite Abdi, known as Skeng, being reported missing by his family, his body lay undiscovered for eight months.
When it was finally found, the body was badly decomposed and infested with insects, Gareth Patterson QC said.
The prosecutor told how Hopkins let slip what had happened to friends who visited the flat last August.
Hopkins, who was known for performing magic tricks, had threatened to kill another drug dealer saying: "I've done it before. He's in the loft."
Docherty wept as Hopkins got a ladder and encouraged the friends to look for themselves, jurors heard.
When police searched the roof space, they found Abdi's body wrapped in a black and red duvet cover with plastic bags over his head.
Giving evidence, Hopkins blamed a senior member of the GMG called Gaille Bola for the killing.
By the time Mr Ali was found, Bola had been found guilty of the manslaughter of 18-year-old drug dealer Meschak Dos Santos, jurors heard.
Hopkins, who was convicted of causing death by dangerous driving and aggravated vehicle taking in 1999, told jurors he feared he would be blamed.
He told jurors: "I was scared my kids would wake up and see the body, so I wrapped it up and put it in the attic.
"I was trying to investigate what the reason was behind it."
But in her evidence, Docherty said her "controlling" and "aggressive" partner had killed "respectful" Abdi, who used their flat to sell drugs.
Docherty, whose previous convictions include assault and criminal damage, said she "froze" and was "petrified" when Hopkins told her he "lost it" and they had to leave.
She said: "He had blood on him. I didn't want to look. I couldn't believe what I was seeing.
"I was in shock. I was thinking 'oh my God, my children are in the next room'."
Explaining why she helped Hopkins push the body into the loft, Docherty said: "He could have hurt me. He had just killed someone. He's a loose cannon."
The prosecution was given seven days to decide on whether to seek a retrial for Docherty.
Mr Ali was a "very respectful, helpful son" who was particularly close to his late grandmother, according to his sister Kowsar.
Speaking outside court on behalf of his mother Iisha, she said: "I am aware that Abdi had trouble with police before but as a family we were hoping that he would change since he was still very young. However, he does not have that opportunity now.
"As a mother, to lose one of your children is the hardest thing ever and very painful. It is also very painful when you are told that your son's body was found very close to your home address and you could not help him when he was being murdered, in the way he was, and when at the same time you used to look for him in that same area.
"As a family we miss Abdi very much and I cannot understand why he (Hopkins) did what he did to Abdi.
"He had no reason to hide his body for that long in a loft and not even allow us to bury him respectfully, which is a very important part of our faith."
Detective Chief Inspector Paul Considine, of Scotland Yard, said: "I am pleased to have received this verdict today in what has been a tragic case to investigate.
"Not only was a young man brutally murdered, but his body being hidden put Abdi's family through the anguish of not knowing where he was. Great efforts were taken to conceal the body and make sure it could not be found.
"This has been devastating for Abdi's family, who were not aware of a lot of aspects of his life. Hopkins showed a callous disregard for the consequences of his actions, which were driven by money and drugs.
"If the friend had not done the right thing and informed police, Abdi's family would have had to endure even longer than they did without knowing where he was or what had happened to him."