Teenage 'foot soldier' jailed for life over drug-debt murder of 17-year-old

A teenager, described in court as an "expendable foot soldier", has been jailed for life over the drug-debt murder of a 17-year-old in broad daylight.

Armin Mehdikhani-Sarvejahani, 16, murdered Mustafa Momand in central Brighton after he tried to leave the world of crime and gangs behind him.

The 16-year-old, the judge said, was a gang "foot soldier" sent to "inflict lethal punishment" on Mustafa over a £20,000 shared drug debt.

Judge Mr Justice Constable KC sentenced the defendant to a minimum of 17 years in prison for what he described as a premeditated attack.

Lewes Crown Court heard how Mustafa had become entangled in crime and dealing drugs, before racking up considerable debt.

The A-level business and law student later tried to escape this life with the help of his parents, but spent his final moments running away in fear after being stabbed through the breast bone.

He ran for 150 metres before collapsing while his attacker, Mehdikhani-Sarvejahani, yelled "I'm going to f*****g get you".

After spiralling into debt, Mustafa's parents tried to save him and even begged the police to send him to prison.

Sentencing Mehdikhani-Sarvejahani, Mr Justice Constable said: "[Mustafa Momand] was a brave young man who took the decision to try and leave the drug world behind him with his parents' support, but this meant leaving this so-called unpaid debt.

"I have no doubt that you were tasked, as an expendable foot soldier, with inflicting lethal punishment on Mustafa."

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He added: "This tragic case serves as a stark reminder of the very real dangers that await young people who get involved in dealing drugs, of the appalling way in which young lives spiral quickly into effective servitude for the financial benefit of others and become treated as expendable, and most clearly, of the devastating consequences of ever more frequent knife crime."

During the trial, Mehdikhani-Sarvejahani claimed the killing was an accident - something the judge branded "untrue and cowardly".

Mustafa had moved to the UK from Afghanistan with his family in 2009, aged just three.

In late 2021, his mum found cannabis in his room and suspected he was using or dealing drugs.

But when he turned 16, Mustafa's behaviour changed and things "got worse", the court heard.

His parents found weapons in his pockets and he would go missing for days on end, sometimes coming back with valuable items, or with injuries, the court heard.

In November 2022, Mustafa told his dad he was in debt and needed £8,000 or "they will kill me".

The court heard the teen "cried and pleaded" until his father gave him some money.

He also managed to get his son a job in a chicken shop, and would stand outside for hours while Mustafa worked as he was scared the people he owed money would find him there.

The court heard how Mustafa had told his mum that he "regretted everything" after getting involved in crime and talked about going to college to study law to help exploited children.

Eventually Mustafa was moved out of the area, and to a care home in April 2023 where he began two A-level courses.

However, two weeks after bumping into a group of young men and being surrounded during a shopping trip with his mum, he appeared in Brighton Magistrates' Court related to drug offences.

As he left, Mehdikhani-Sarvejahani attacked and killed him on 5 October.

Mehdikhani-Sarvejahani was also found guilty and sentenced over a separate incident in 2023 of threatening another person with a bladed article. He was cleared of a similar offence.