The mother of a young man who was stabbed to death by his ‘controlling and coercive’ girlfriend has revealed he felt ‘too ashamed’ to go to police about her ongoing abuse.
Tai O’Donnell, 19, from Croydon, south London, was a popular teenager with aspirations to become a music producer when he fell into the clutches of Kamila Ahmad, then aged 22, in summer 2020.
Despite standing at just 5ft tall and with a notably high voice, Ahmad already had a string of 11 convictions to her name, including battery, robbery and assault, and had previously stabbed a boyfriend in 2015, The Times reports.
The relationship saw Tai become isolated and withdrawn, until he was eventually stabbed by Ahmad in the early hours of March 3, 2021, and bled to death after she failed to call an ambulance.
Following a trial at Croydon Crown Court this month, Ahmad was convicted of murder as well as grievous bodily harm for the attack on her previous boyfriend. She was jailed for life with a minimum 23-year term.
Tai O’Donnell, 19, from Croydon, south London, was a popular teenager with aspirations to become a music producer when he fell into the clutches of Kamila Ahmad, then aged 22, in summer 2020
Following a trial at Croydon Crown Court this month, Kamila Ahmad, 22, was convicted of murder as well as grievous bodily harm for the attack on her previous boyfriend. She was jailed for life with a minimum 23-year term
Tai’s devastated mother Stacey O’Donnell revealed how the 6ft 2in student doted on his four younger siblings and was a trusted confidante to his wide circle of friends.
Mrs O’Donnell said: ‘I’d seen his stress. But I made the wrong assumption that it was just an average toxic relationship. There was nothing average about it. It was serious abuse. My son did not want to die.’
She said Tai felt too embarrassed to tell police that he was being attacked by his girlfriend – who hardly reached his chest in height.
‘Tai wasn’t a timid boy,’ she said. ‘He had a strong spirit. Never in a million years would I have thought that he would end up in a situation like this.
‘He was a young, popular boy, he didn’t want to be seen as someone who was being terrorised by a girl. He was embarrassed.’
The youngster was a student at Croydon College with dreams of reaching the top of the music industry when friends introduced him to Ahmad, who had a reputation of being a ‘bad girl’.
The young woman had endured a troubled childhood in which she witnessed her father repeatedly abuse her mother. She was still on licence for an offence of robbery and possession of a bladed article when she met Tai.
Within two months of meeting, Tai confided to his mother that Ahmad would ‘kick off’ over minor issues, although he attempted to joke about it. Over time, it became apparent he was not allowed to see friends without his girlfriend’s say-so or stay out without her permission.
Tai’s devastated mother Stacey O’Donnell (pictured together) said he felt too embarrassed to tell police that he was being attacked by his girlfriend – who hardly reached his chest in height
He once called his mother in the middle of the night frightened after Ahmad began banging on his front door. When family arrived, Ahmad was inside and Tai insisted everything was okay.
On another occasion his mother noticed bite marks on his neck, and Ahmad also used a brick to smash her way into their home.
Mrs O’Donnell stated Ahmad would threaten suicide each time her son talked of ending the relationship and had threatened to ‘shank [stab]’ him at other times.
On March 2, 2021, she went to see her son and his girlfriend in their home and told them to end their ‘toxic’ relationship once and for all, advising them: ‘The two of you are not good for each other.’
As she said goodbye to her son for what would be the last time, she said: ‘It’s killing me to see you living like this.’
The couple were overheard arguing later that evening and CCTV caught Ahmad swinging her bag in the street and hitting Tai in the face at 12.25am.
At 3.27am, Ahmad message a family member she had ‘stabbed someone’ and ‘no one is helping me clear him up’.
A neighbour called police at midday and officers found Tai’s body at the scene. A pathologist judged that had an ambulance been called, Tai probably would have survived his injuries.
Ahmad lied to police, insisting she was a younger sister of a neighbour and had nothing to do with the deceased. However, officers found a bloodstained jacket and rucksack which was linked to the scene by DNA.
Judge Peter Gower said: ‘It demonstrates with chilling clarity how highly dangerous a young woman you are. You were indifferent that he died and have shown not the smallest bit of remorse.
‘He posed no physical threat to you. What you did was not in self-defence, it was done in anger.’
The judge also rejected Ahmad’s narrative that she was the victim of domestic abuse in the relationship, describing her behaviour as ‘controlling and coercive’.
Following Ahmad’s arrest, previous boyfriend Karim Hussein, 25, came forward and revealed how he had been stabbed by her during their relationship in 2015.
Tai’s mother, who attended each hearing in court dressed in black, was praised by the judge for her composure and ‘quiet dignity’ throughout the proceedings.
Mrs O’Donnell said she visited her son’s grave every day in the first year after he died. At one point, she says she contemplated suicide and even wrote a victim impact statement to be read out in court after her death.
She said: ‘When you have full responsibility for keeping someone safe, and something like this happens to them, you feel responsible. If I had just been more patient, if I had just taken more time with him, why did I let him move out from so young?’
After being helped by victim support charities, she has recognised that Ahmad is the only person to blame for her son’s death. ‘She did something truly evil,’ she said.
Mrs O’Donnell is now dedicating herself to combating knife crime in under-25s and is encouraging prison facilities to work with troubled youths. She said: ‘I would like for young people to focus on bettering themselves, and being successful and happy, because this anger and rage that they all carry around with themselves is weighty.’