Twenty-one-year-old Razvan Sirbu should probably be alive today. Instead, the man—who had been living in a tent close to Maidstone, Kent—is dead due to the actions of teenagers.
Two 19-year-old men were found guilty of murdering Sirbu, a Romanian rough sleeper. They committed the crime with a machete; his body was left close to his tent. Both men denied killing Sirbu.
The convicted murderers, Alex Macdonald and Charlie White, reenacted the murder of Sirbu while burning the clothing they were wearing while committing the horrifying crime. Kent police released footage of their doing so at a local skate park.
Joining them while they did so was the 20-year-old James Buckley, a man described as an accomplice in the murder.
Those investigating the crime discovered a conversation between White and Macdonald. White asked why Macdonald kept hitting Sirbu in the face; allegedly, Macdonald simply replied that he found doing so “funny”.
It definitely wasn’t funny. During the autopsy of his corpse, it was discovered that Sirbu suffered several fractured ribs as a result of the attack as well as other substantial injuries to his body. His body was found near the tent he called home. He had been slashed multiple times. Technically, Sirbu perished as the result of blunt force trauma to both the body and his head. According to one doctor, even if Sirbu had been found immediately after the attack, his brain wouldn’t have survived even an hour.
The killing of the Romanian occurred late at night on the 6th of May of 2017. Sirbu was found by his killers at the Loose Valley Conservation Area. His body was found early the next morning by a person walking a dog.
Allegedly, the young men had been in the area because they intended to steal a riding lawn mower from a nearby garden and sell it. During the trial, they denied having any intent to rob Sirbu. In a prepared statement White claimed he had the machete—the murder weapon—because he was going to use it defend himself from the person he intended to sell the riding mower to. But then he heard a man speaking a foreign language—who he alleged tried to attack him—and things got real ugly real fast. White claimed he did what he did in self-defense—denying aiming for Sirbu’s head—adding that he did not encourage anyone else to attack Sirbu.
That may have been White’s story, but apparently the courts did not believe him. A jury convicted both White and Macdonald of the murder of the homeless man; Buckley, for whatever reason, was deemed unfit to plead. That said, the jury still believed him to be involved in Sirbu’s death.
A detective named Tony Pledger described the attack on Sirbu as “utterly senseless”, adding that Sirbu didn’t really have a chance to defend himself. The attack, he said, was a horrific ordeal that was “entirely unprovoked”.
Pledger went on to say that there is a great deal of evidence linking White and Macdonald to the murder of Sirbu; however, because they have refused to tell the truth, it may never been known exactly why they carried out the attack on the young man.
DNA evidence on a coat linked Macdonald to Sirbu’s death.
The trial judge called what happened to Sirbu a brutal attack on a young man who was defenseless; as the judge put it, Sirbu “posed no threat” and meant no harm.
White may have claimed that Sirbu attacked him, but according to the victim’s mother, the homeless Sirbu was in the United Kingdom for no other reason than to attain a better life and a better future for himself. As she put it, the death of her son left her “crushed to the ground”.
She thought the move would be a new beginning for her child, who she called the apple of her eye, but it instead proved to be the end of her “beloved son”.
Sirbu had been raised as a child by his grandmother, and she is understandably experiencing a great deal of grief.
Sirbu had apparently achieved a college degree in cookery just a short nine months before his death earlier this year. The tent by which he was found dead was obtained by Sirbu from a homeless charity in early May, and it was his home until he was killed.
The jury unanimously returned guilty verdicts for White and Macdonald, who refused to leave prison to attend the trial.
In case anyone is curious about the term Romanian rough sleeper, it refers to people from Romania who sleep in the open air—for example on the streets or in parks—or in places that aren’t really designed for habitation, such as in cars or barns.
There was quite the surge of Romanian rough sleepers in the United Kingdom, especially in London, earlier this decade. In 2016, it was estimated that roughly 8,000 people were sleeping rough in the city. Many would make their homes in the wealthier portions of London, including Park Lane.
Roughly a fifth of London’s rough sleepers are Romanian, like Sirbu was.
The number of rough sleepers is in fact declining, and it will likely decline further due to a decision deport Poles and Romanians, a decision that is certainly controversial. In the past year, roughly 1,000 of the rough sleepers were “repatriated”; although about 20 percent left the United Kingdom willingly, most had to be removed by immigration officers.
Other countries from which the United Kingdom’s rough sleepers come include Bulgaria and Latvia.