Killer convicted of anniversary revenge murder in Southwark park
A killer who stabbed to death the man he believed was responsible for his younger brother’s murder 18 years before has been convicted of murder.
Stephen O’Rourke, 48, targeted 38-year-old Rocky Djelal in broad daylight while he stood talking on the phone to his best friend at a children’s playground in Bermondsey.
O’Rourke took out a knife from a carrier bag and stabbed Mr Djelal three times before calmly leaving the busy playground around 2pm on 31 October 2018 - the anniversary of his brother’s funeral.
In the weeks earlier, O’Rourke had become increasingly preoccupied and obsessed with his brother’s death. Just a day before he carried out the murder he sent out messages saying he was ready to kill and ready for his own Valhalla – a reference to Nordic mythology where warriors who are slain live on after their deaths.
In 2000 Mr Djelal had been arrested as part of the investigation into the murder of 21-year-old Michael O’Rourke, also known as Paddy, but was released without charge. No one has been prosecuted for that killing.
Today, O’Rourke was convicted of murdering Mr Djelal following a trial at the Old Bailey.
O’Rourke had been tracking his victim through the Southwark area over the course of the day. Although unemployed, he had dressed like a labourer wearing a high visibility jacket, paint-splashed trousers and boots - to blend in with the many workmen nearby.
After the attack Mr Djelal managed to stumble away and others in the park came to his aid.
Mr Djelal’s father and brother rushed to Southwark Park having been alerted to the stabbing and paramedics also arrived soon after. However, Mr Djelal could not be saved and died minutes later.
The police investigation led to O’Rourke and his brother Jason O’Rourke being arrested on 16 November 2018. Jason took his own life at Belmarsh prison while awaiting trial for his alleged part in assisting an offender.
During a search of O’Rourke’s home address police and sniffer dogs found two high visibility jackets and workman boots as well as a number of knives. The murder weapon has never been found.
VIDEO: O'Rourke caught on CCTV leaving the park wearing the hi-vis jacket and later removing it on a nearby street (far right)
Louise Attrill, from the CPS, said: “This was a pre-meditated, targeted and brazen execution of a man in a busy children’s park in broad daylight.
“Stephen O’Rourke knew his victim well. Their families had known each other all their lives. But O’Rourke believed that Mr Djelal was responsible for his younger brother’s murder 18 years before. That is why on the anniversary of his brother’s funeral he took it upon himself to carry out what he believed was a revenge killing. In his own words, he was ready to kill and ready for his own Valhalla.
“During the trial O’Rourke claimed that he had stabbed Mr Djelal to defend himself, but using CCTV evidence and witness accounts, the prosecution was able to prove that this was a lie.
“CCTV footage showed that on his way home from the park O’Rourke changed his outer clothing no less than three times, in a clear attempt to distance himself from a man who murdered Rocky Djelal while wearing a high visibility jacket. A bystander also witnessed a chilling smirk on his face as he walked away from scene of the crime.
"Nothing can ever bring back a loved one, but I hope this conviction goes some way in providing comfort to the family and friends of Rocky Djelal."
Notes to editors
- Stephen O’Rourke (DOB: 2/10/1972) is from Bermondsey in the London borough of Southwark
- Louise Attrill is a Senior Crown Prosecutor within the pan-London homicide team at CPS London North.