A man has been convicted of murder after he stabbed a stranger to death to steal his secondhand Gucci bag.
Samuel Odupitan, 23, from Longheath Gardens, Croydon, attacked and killed 24-year-old Tyler Roye in the early hours of Wednesday 26 February.
According to the Metropolitan Police, the vicious attack took place in Bywood Avenue, Croydon, just minutes away from the victim’s home.
Odupitan appeared at Croydon Crown Court on Tuesday, and was found guilty of murder and will be sentenced at the same court on Monday 7 December.
Hotel concierge Tyler was stabbed five times in the back and abdomen. Paramedics treated him at the scene and on arrival at hospital, but he later died while in surgery.
The court heard that on the evening of Tuesday 25 February, Tyler had finished work at around 11pm and on his way home when he boarded a tram at East Croydon, entering the same carriage as Odupitan.
CCTV footage captured Odupitan, who had travelled from West Croydon, watching Tyler and moving seats to get closer to him, said police.
Detectives believe Odupitan had his eye on Tyler’s Gucci messenger-style bag, which had a bright and distinctive pattern of Bengal tigers embossed on it. Tyler got off the tram at the Arena stop, unaware he was being followed by the suspect.
Within minutes of getting off the tram, Tyler – who was on the phone with his girlfriend – was approached by Odupitan.
Tyler’s girlfriend heard him say: “Bro, bro…” before the line went dead. Odupitan stabbed Tyler five times before fleeing the scene.
After the attack, Tyler was able to get to the nearby address of a friend, where he raised the alarm and collapsed inside the property. One of the wounds to his torso was 15 centimetres deep and had cut through his lung and aorta.
He had been carrying a bag with a box of doughnuts inside to bring home to his family. This bag was found near to the location he had been attacked and was ripped open with the food strewn across the pavement. His iPhone and ear pods were also found, but the Gucci bag was missing.
The Met’s Specialist Crime Command (Homicide) launched an investigation and identified Odupitan from CCTV footage as a result of enquiries surrounding Tyler’s journey.
Officers attended Odupitan’s address on 1 March, where he was arrested and a search of the property was carried out. However, officers were unable to locate Tyler’s bag, nor the jacket, trousers and trainers Odupitan had been seen wearing that night.
The suspect claimed that the distinctive jacket he wore that night had been lent to him by a friend and since returned, but was caught out when his ex-partner confirmed she had bought it for him as a gift.
An examination of his mobile phone revealed a number of images of knives he had searched for and viewed on the internet, photographs of knives sent to him by friends, as well as text message exchanges about knives.
Investigating officers also found a video of him driving a car whilst holding a knife. They also found images of designer bags he had searched for and been pictured with.
It was also discovered that within hours of the murder of Tyler, he was being sent images of the crime scene and carrying out searches about post mortems on the internet.
Odupitan was also convicted of four robberies which he pleaded guilty to at an earlier hearing. These robberies took place in south London in September and October last year, and saw Odupitan robbing four victims of their watches.
One of the victims was a woman. The other three male victims were assaulted during the offences, with a knife used in one of them.
Tyler’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.”
Detective Inspector Mel Pressley of the Specialist Crime Command said the force’s thoughts were with the family and friends of Tyler and hoped the 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,” she added.