Hero driver accused of murder reveals how he tried to save Maida Vale stabbing victim

27 January 2022, 09:05 | Updated: 27 January 2022, 14:33

A man arrested for the Maida Vale murder has broken his silence
A man arrested for the Maida Vale murder has broken his silence. Picture: Alamy

By Megan Hinton

A driver who mowed down a knifeman as he was stabbing a mother of two has broken his silence saying his "only regret" is that he could not save the woman's life.

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Identifying himself as 'Abraham', the Renault Clio driver was arrested on suspicion of murder after ploughing into Leon McCaskre, 41, as he stabbed his ex-partner Yasmin Chkaifi to death in the street in front of horrified witnesses.

A number of people had tried to stop McCaskre before Abraham, 26, hit him with his car and both McCaskre and Ms Chkaifi were pronounced dead at the scene.

A statement issued on Twitter through a lawyer, Mr Mohammed Akunjee, who said he was releasing it on the driver's behalf, said: "I witnessed a man repeatedly stabbing a defenceless woman on the pavement a short distance in front of my car. 

"Members of the public were attempting to intervene. The attacker was wielding a knife and was threatening those brave citizens too.

"My instant thought was to protect the woman who was being stabbed and the public who were also being threatened. The vehicles ahead of me moved off, which gave me the opportunity to intervene.

"I drove my vehicle towards the attacker in order to get him away from the woman he was attacking. I did not intend to harm the attacker. I only intended to protect those being attacked."

Ms Chkaifi, 43, who was described as having a "heart of gold" was found with stab injuries in Chippenham Road during rush-hour at around 9am on Monday.

A petition, which brands the driver a "hero", has been signed by nearly 8,000 people since the horrific attack on Monday morning. It called for him to avoid prosecution for murder.

Read more: Pictured: Mum, 43, with 'heart of gold' stabbed to death in Maida Vale killings

The statement continued: "My vehicle struck the attacker and he was taken under my car, causing it to stall. I could not reverse my car to free him. I and the other passers-by attempted to lift the car away from the attacker so we could provide the man with first aid. 

"Unfortunately we were unsuccessful with this and I have since learned that both the young lady and her attacker have died. I am deeply sorry that the man I tried to stop from attacking other people has died.

"It was never my intention to harm him, I just wanted to stop him from hurting anybody further. My only regret is that God did not allow me to be present at the scene sooner so that my intervention may have saved the life of the young woman concerned.

"I understand that the police are doing their job and that my being arrested is not unusual. However, I do not see why I as the person who tried to assist in the defence of other human beings remain arrested and on bail under suspicion of murder.

"I have asked my solicitor to contact the Metropolitan Police to request that they consider de-arresting me and begin treating me as a witness to a tragic event rather than as a criminal as they currently are."

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Scotland Yard said in a statement: "We are investigating the deaths of two people in this incident.

"Two families are bereaved and looking for answers.

"It is therefore essential that the investigation proceeds in an objective and professional manner.

"As with all investigations into violent deaths, we will gather all the available evidence and this can take time.

"Only when we are satisfied that we have all the facts can we fully understand the circumstances that led to the deaths and consider the most appropriate course of action."

A woman who said she was Yasmin Chkaifi's aunt said the mother left behind two children age 16 and 18.

She added: "She had a heart of gold and was so, so beautiful. I am broken hearted. She never hated anyone and had so many friends from so all different backgrounds.

"Another family member added: "Everyone is still so shocked. It was my auntie. We have all lived in the area for years."

One of Ms Chkaifi's sons told MailOnline that McCaskre had made her life hell, and called him a "monster".

He said: "It was a very abusive relationship which got worse after the divorce.

"My mother was continually being harassed and intimidated by this man.

"He made her life hell."I was always in touch with the police but they did nothing to help her.

"There was even a panic alarm installed in our flat - that's how scared she was of this man."

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Mulugetta Asseratte, an eyewitness, said: "It is a very terrible incident and for it to happen on a Monday morning. I was coming up from the bakery to Chippenham Road and suddenly heard shouts of 'stop it, stop it' and it was a girl being attacked by a gentleman.

"In any case, I'm a father of four daughters, such things do happen, and I tried to look and even say 'stop it' and it would not."