A violent robber who stabbed a hotel concierge worker – on the phone to his girlfriend at the time – for his second-hand Gucci bag has been convicted of murder.
Samuel Odupitan, 24, followed Tyler Roye off a tram in Woodside, Croydon, before robbing him and fatally stabbing him six times.
Today (Tuesday, 1 December) at Croydon Crown Court, Odupitan was found guilty of murder. He had previously pleaded guilty to four counts of robbery that preceded the murder and will be sentenced on Monday, 7 December.
Mr Roye had just finished a late shift at the Holiday Inn in Stratford and was on his way home when he was attacked just after midnight on 26 February this year.
The 24-year-old victim had just picked up a phone call from his girlfriend when Odupitan confronted him and demanded his possessions.
After a struggle, Odupitan, of Longheath Gardens, Croydon, fled with the Gucci bag. Mr Rowe managed to stumble a few steps away to a schoolfriend’s house before collapsing inside. Paramedics were called and he was taken to hospital but died shortly before 3am.
Tyler Roye’s mother, Cecilia Smith, said: “Odupitan is an evil predator and opportunist who preyed on my son for a bag. He robbed my son of his precious life. He is a danger to society and has no regard for human life.”
Police arrested Odupitan at his home address on 1 March having identified him as a person of interest through CCTV.
The distinctive jacket and the hoodie he was seen to be wearing at the time were not found, but his mobile phone contained a number of photos of him wearing the same outfit.
Further analysis of his phone also found numerous images of knives, messages about them that he had been sent by his friends, as well as a video of him driving around in a car armed with a knife. In addition he appeared to have an interest in bags as police found pictures of bags and photographs of Odupitan holding or wearing different bags on the device too.
The court heard that on the evening of Tuesday, 25 February, Tyler had finished work at around 11pm and began his journey home. Boarding a tram at East Croydon, he entered the same carriage as Odupitan, who had travelled from West Croydon.
CCTV footage captured Odupitan watching Tyler intently, even moving seats to get closer to him.
Detectives believe he was drawn to the distinctive Bengal tiger embossed Gucci messenger-style bag Tyler was carrying. When they reached the Arena stop, Tyler made his way of off the tram; completely unaware that he was being followed by Odupitan.
Within minutes, Tyler – who had just called his girlfriend – was approached by Odupitan. She heard Tyler say “Bro, bro..” before the line went dead. Odupitan stabbed Tyler five times in the back and stomach before running from the scene. One wound was 15 cm deep and cut his lungs and an artery near his heart.
After the incident Tyler managed to get to the nearby address of a friend, where he raised the alarm. He collapsed inside the property. One of the wounds to his torso was 15 centimeters deep and had cut through his lung and aorta.
Tyler had been carrying a bag containing boxes of doughnuts for his family. This bag was found near to where he had been attacked; ripped open with the food strewn across the pavement. Tyler’s iPhone and ear pods were also discovered; but his Gucci bag was missing.
Odupitan tried to claim to police that the distinctive jacket had been lent to him by a friend and since returned; but he was caught out when his ex-partner confirmed that she had bought it for him as a gift.
Odupitan was also convicted of four robberies which he pleaded guilty to at an earlier hearing. The incidents took place in South London in September and October 2019 and saw mask-wearing Odupitan rob four victims – including a woman – of their watches. The three male victims were assaulted during the offences, with a knife used in one of them.
Detective Inspector Mel Pressley, of the Specialist Crime Command, said: “Our thoughts today are with the family and friends of Tyler, who lost him in the most tragic and needless circumstances. Nothing will ever relieve their pain, but I hope that today’s conviction goes some way to providing them with some form of comfort.
“Odupitan is an extremely dangerous and heartless individual – not only because he was capable of such brutal violence, but because he was willing to inflict it on a stranger for the sake of a material item which caught his eye and he decided he just had to have. Very sadly for Tyler, Odupitan had no care for what the consequences might be.”
Devi Kharran, Senior Crown Prosecutor at the CPS, said: “This was an opportunistic and unprovoked attack on a hardworking young man who was on his way home from work.
“Using the incriminating evidence found on the defendant’s own phone and CCTV footage, the prosecution was able to prove Odupitan murdered Tyler Rowe in cold blood for the sake of a designer bag.
“From the moment Odupitan spotted his victim on a tram wearing a bag that he liked – he pursued him.
“Mr Rowe could not have known what would happen on a journey that he so often took. But he lost his life simply because he had the fatal misfortune of encountering a violent robber on his way home.
“I hope this conviction goes some way in comforting the family and friends of Mr Rowe. Our thoughts remain with them at this time.”
Pictured: Arena tram stop, Woodside, Croydon at night.
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