In a busy March for the county’s courts, here are five Hertfordshire criminals who have been convicted this month, including a life sentence for a man who murdered a student in Stevenage.

1. Jelani Omar, Malake Fiseha, Natnael Hadgu and Robel Msgane

Four people have been jailed following the murder of business student Bereket Selomun, who was found dead in Stevenage in 2022.

Jelani Omar, Malake Fiseha, Natnael Hadgu and Robel Msgane were all handed jail sentences at St Albans Crown Court on March 22.

Bereket's body was found by a dog walker in woodland off Brittain Way, next to Fairlands Valley Park, shortly before 7.30am on Thursday July 7, 2022.

The 20-year-old, who had travelled to the UK for a “safer and better” life, had suffered a minimum of eight stab wounds.

The Comet: (L to R) Jelani Omar, Natnael Hadgu, Malake Fiseha and Robel Msgane.(L to R) Jelani Omar, Natnael Hadgu, Malake Fiseha and Robel Msgane. (Image: Herts police)

Jelani Omar, 25, of Plash Drive, Stevenage, had fallen out with the victim prior to the murder and was jailed for life. Judge Richard Foster said he must serve a minimum of 22 year before his release, when he will be automatically deported.

Malake Fiseha, 25, and Natnael Hadgu, 20 - of Manor View and Ripon Road - were found guilty of manslaughter.  They were both jailed for nine years and face automatic deportation on their release.

Robel Msgane, aged 23 - of no fixed abode - was found guilty of assisting an offender. He was jailed for four years and will also face automatic deportation.

The Comet: Bereket Selomun.Bereket Selomun. (Image: Hertfordshire Constabulary)

Bereket’s brother Michale Solomun said: "No words could ever explain or put into context how we have felt since Bereket was taken from us in such horrific circumstances.

"He fled Eritrea in the hopes of living a safer and better life in the UK, only to have his life brutally cut short."

2. Trevor Dowling

A robber who held up a woman in the village post office near Hitchin after stealing a car has been jailed for eight years.

Trevor Dowling, of Copenhagen Close in Luton, was convicted of robbery and possession of an imitation firearm by a jury, having pleaded guilty to theft of a motor vehicle.

On August 27, 2022, the 42-year-old was on Luton’s Marsh Farm estate when he saw a delivery driver leave his door unlocked with keys in the ignition.

The Comet: Trevor Dowling.Trevor Dowling. (Image: Herts police)

The judge at Luton Crown Court said he was seen on CCTV acting in a "breathtakingly quick way" to get in and drive off.

Dowling then went home and collected a black jacket to cover his neck tattoos before driving to the post office in Pirton.

He put on a black baseball cap and a Covid mask before bursting into the rural and isolated shop, where the woman was working in the stock room.

Dowling grabbed and pushed her around, pressing a BB gun to her stomach. When he realised the post office safe was empty he snatched £300 from the cash drawer and drove back to Luton, dumping the car near his home.

Hertfordshire police arrested him in Beeston, Leeds, on October 1, 2022, with the gun found under the mattress of one of his children.

3. Jalal Tarakhail, Waqas Ikram and Najib Khan

Three members of a prolific people smuggling gang have been convicted after one of the members was arrested at South Mimms services.

Jalal Tarakhail, 24, of Eastwood Road, Ilford, was found guilty of one count of conspiring to facilitate illegal immigration.

He joins fellow gang members Najib Khan, 39, of Medici Close in Ilford, and Waqas Ikram, 41, of Beadles Parade, Rainham Road in Dagenham, who were both found guilty of three charges of conspiring to facilitate a breach of immigration law.

The Comet: (L to R) Jalal Tarakhail, Waqas Ikram and Najib Khan.(L to R) Jalal Tarakhail, Waqas Ikram and Najib Khan. (Image: National Crime Agency)

Ikram was detained during an National Crime Agency operation at South Mimms services on March 30, 2021, after he was caught red-handed attempting to break into an HGV to put four migrants inside, unbeknownst to the driver.

At the time of his arrest, Ikram was working for a people smuggling organised crime group headed by Mokter Hossain, who was later jailed for more than 10 years as part of the NCA’s Operation Symbolry.

An iPhone belonging to Ikram which was seized following his arrest contained numerous conversations with Khan and Tarakhail, outlining their involvement in a separate criminal network, charging migrants up to £7,000 to bring them to the UK.

"These individuals treated humans as a commodity and had no regard for the safety or wellbeing of those they were transporting," said NCA lead investigating officer Robert Macleod.

4. Paul Clark

Paul Clark has been jailed and fined more than £3,300 after a string of thefts from Welwyn Garden City's John Lewis store.

The 41-year-old was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment at St Albans Magistrates’ Court on March 11, and must also pay compensation of £3,376.39, as well as being issued with a Community Protection Notice.

The court heard that Clark stole perfume from John Lewis thirteen times between December 2023 and February 2024, totalling an estimated £1,500. On another occasion he also stole from Boots in The Howard Centre.

"We take a strong stance against shoplifting and I hope this news reassures local businesses," said PC Cameron Abraham, from the Welwyn Hatfield Neighbourhood Policing Team, who led the investigation.

5. Jake Robertson and Shemoly Begum

Burglars from Stevenage have been sentenced after committing a string of offences.

Jake Robertson, 22 and of no fixed address, broke into three different addresses in Lonsdale Road and Burymead between August 28 and August 30 last year. He was assisted by Shemoly Begum, 24, from Bedwell in Stevenage.

The Comet: Jake Robertson.Jake Robertson. (Image: Hertfordshire Constabulary)

Robertson stole vehicle keys for an Audi, Mini and Hyundai, and then took the vehicles themselves, which were parked outside.

He also attempted to burgle two properties in Rusling Way and stole a bank card from a car, which was later used in both Stevenage and London.

Robertson was caught when a local resident recognised one of the stolen cars he was driving and reported it. Officers traced Robertson to an address nearby where he was subsequently arrested and remanded into custody.

He was then charged with three residential burglaries, three thefts of motor vehicles, two attempted burglaries, fraud by false representation, theft from a motor vehicle, and driving a motor vehicle without a licence.

Begum was charged with the same offences and appeared alongside Robertson at Cambridge Crown Court on March 14. Both pleaded guilty.

Robertson was sentenced to 32 months behind bars, while Begum was handed a two-year suspended sentence and a twenty days rehabilitation activity requirement.