Sadam Essakhil is now serving life in prison for murder and has described how he has come to be haunted by his actions.
In a hard-hitting video released through West Midlands Police, Essakhil spoke of how in just a few seconds, life changed “for the worst”, and he warned other youngsters not to follow his path.
WATCH the video here:
“I didn’t take a knife out that night to use it,” he said.
“But I did and now I’m in jail for life.”
The video is being shown to pupils across the Black Country and Birmingham as part of Operation Sceptre, a national week-long campaign by police forces to tackle knife crime.
Essakhil was with friend Abdullah Atiqzoy, then 18 and from Oldbury, walking to a shop in the early hours of May 31 2015, when they came across two Polish men.
A fight then started over a “look”, but Essakhil and Atiqzoy were both armed.
Using a knife he carried for “protection”, Essakhil fatally stabbed Lukasz Furmanek, 24, while the victim’s friend Joseph Dudek was also critically injured.
The attack was later described by detectives as “sudden, shocking and brutal”.
Essakhil fled to France but later handed himself in in Belgium, while Atiqzoy was stopped trying to get across the Channel.
The men were convicted after trial, with Essakhil receiving life with a minimum term of 19 years, while Atiqzoy must serve at least 26 years before being eligible for release.
Now 20, Essakhil said he had had a lot of time to think – not only about his actions, but about his victim’s family.
“The person that died, that was his mum’s only child and that child is not there anymore,” he said.
He added: “Having to live with the feeling that I’ve taken a life – trust me, it’s not nice.
“Especially when you’re in your cell, on your own, all night and you got nothing else to do.
“You’re going to be thinking about these things.
“They come to haunt you.”
The force said the decision to use a convicted murderer as part of a campaign to tackle knife crime had not been taken lightly.
Along with the cooperation of the prison service, Mr Furmanek’s mother has also been fully supportive of the campaign and the video’s use in schools.
She said: “If I was to influence someone with my words, I would like them to think 10 times before they cause hurt to themselves and to other people.”
Charting his path from schoolboy to killer, Essakhil said he initially enjoyed school but got bored and was “getting into fights and stuff”.
Describing the fatal attack, he said: “Thirty seconds later, my whole life is different.”
“That knife – if I never took a life, it would have been a fist fight at most,” said the killer.
Essakhil had taken the knife from a kitchen drawer, before going out.
“I went out with a knife but not trying to attack people, but I just went out there feeling that I needed to protect myself,” he added.
After the attack, he said he felt “lost”.
He has had to get used to a prison regime, sometimes meaning “23 hours in a cell”, and missing important family landmarks.
Essakhil said his loving family, whose opinions he once scorned as a teenager, had been the ones who had supported him in prison.
He told how the friends he had run with as a youngster never came to see him, and some even lied about having paid a visit “to show off”.
Essakhil said he had been “a clown” as a youth, but given the chance to turn back the clock he would “be a good person”.
“I wouldn’t want no-one to go through what I’m going through,” he said.
Detective Chief Inspector Jim Munro, from the force’s homicide team, said: “We see the tragic effects of knife crime far too often, the devastation that it causes so many people is truly heartbreaking.
“While officers work hard with young people, we understand some do not want to listen to what we have to say.
“Sadam’s message is powerful and I hope will provide some emotive thoughts and conversations amongst young people.”
As part of the national campaign, knife amnesty bins are being publicised across England and Wales, encouraging people to surrender weapons.