Homeless thief gets life after murdering popular gay man in Hyde Park

LGBT community help detectives solve case after attack by park mosaic

Friday, 25th August 2017 — By Richard Osley

jairo medina

Jairo Medina

A THIEF who violently attacked his victim and left him for dead in Hyde Park was jailed for life yesterday (Thursday) and warned he will spend at least a quarter of a century locked up.

Hani Khalaf, 22, was told at the Old Bailey that his recommended time in prison before any possibility of release would be 26 years following his conviction for murdering “kind and gentle” care worker Jairo Medina.

A groundsman found Mr Medina’s body in the early hours of August 11 last summer near the mosaic in the park commemorating The Reformers’ Tree. He had sustained numerous broken bones and fractured ribs, and suffered a blunt strike to the head.

As Mr Medina lay dying, Khalaf stole his rucksack and fled the scene, the jury had been told, before rifling through the bag, emptying and dropping a wallet, as well as taking a mobile phone. He left a trail of discarded items en route to Speakers’ Corner.

Khalaf, who did not provide an address to police, denied the murder but was found guilty earlier this month. He was held by detectives after being arrested for fare-dodging and shoplifting, with officers matching him with CCTV footage of him and Mr Medina in a convenience store. The murder trial was told forensic examination of Khalaf’s clothing revealed Mr Medina’s DNA on his watch and belt, while his own DNA was also found on the rucksack abandoned at the scene.

Khalaf told the trial that he had sparked con- versation with Mr Medina earlier in the evening, left the park for a while and when he returned discovered Mr Medina’s bloodied body. He explained his actions
as fleeing in fear.

The day before the killing, Khalaf had been arrested for shoplifting in the West End but was released on bail.

Murder squad detective Nicola Wall said: “Jairo Medina was a kind and gentle man, who dedicated his life to caring for others. On that evening in August last year, he went out to socialise in the Hyde Park area. There he encountered Hani Khalaf, who was to viciously assault and rob him before leaving him to die in a remote part of the park. We are pleased that such a dangerous individual is now in custody for what he did and hopefully this may be of some comfort to Jairo’s family and friends.”

Those at a residential home who knew 62- year-old Mr Medina, who lived in Chelsea, have since described him as the best carer they had ever had, known for putting others first.

DI Wall added: “We believe that robbery was the motive behind the murder. In the very early stages of the investigation we realised that Jairo was an openly gay man who liked to socialise in and around Hyde Park.

“Our investigation received a lot of support and assistance from representatives of the LGBT community who work alongside the local police in Westminster. I would like to acknowledge their support in helping us achieve justice.”

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