A killer is facing a life sentence after disguising himself as a builder and stabbing his neighbour in “revenge” for his brother’s unsolved murder.
Stephen O’Rourke, 48, stabbed 38-year-old Rocky Djelal to death in a ‘savage’ attack outside the children’s playground in Southwark Park, southeast London, on Halloween in 2018.
O’Rourke blamed the victim for the killing of his brother Michael ‘Paddy’ O’Rourke, 21, in 2000, and grew increasingly paranoid that the culprit was after him next.
The pair had grown up together in the same neighbourhood and their families had known one another all their lives.
Mr Djelal was arrested but released without charge and no one was ever prosecuted over Michael’s murder on August 20, 2000.
On the anniversary of Michael’s funeral, the victim was chatting on the phone to his girlfriend near the park swings when he was ambushed from behind by O’Rourke.
The killer donned a high-vis jacket, paint-splashed trousers and labourer’s boots to blend in with builders working near the park cafe and ‘surprise’ the victim.
He stabbed Mr Djelal twice before plunging the blade 11cm into his back causing his lung to collapse at around 1.58pm.
Witnesses initially thought they had heard a wild bird when the victim’s screams echoed through the park after the “clinically savage, pre-planned, execution-style killing”.
Prosecutor Allison Hunter QC said the vicious killing was intended to “wreak revenge” for his brother and save himself from the perceived ongoing threat.
O’Rourke did not give evidence but his defence barrister claimed he acted in self-defence.
Mr Djelal had a record of violence, having recently been released from prison for his involvement in a botched revenge attack which left innocent City worker Christopher Foster, 24, dead.
Mr Foster, who worked for a law firm and was a single father to his four year-old daughter, was attacked from behind outside a pub in Borough High Street.
In 2014, Mr Djelal was jailed for six years for conspiracy to commit GBH while the murderer Aytach Lisani was sentenced to life with a minimum of 23 years.
Michael Ivers, defending, claimed O’Rourke, who did not give evidence, acted in self defence.
He told jurors: “The evidence does not look like my client having a knife, but Rocky Djelal having a knife.
“In Rocky Djelal you have a violent angry man who has caused harm to people in the past.
“Unless O’Rourke did something quickly and instinctively he could have been finished.”
But the jury unanimously convicted O’Rourke of murder today.
Bearded O’Rourke sat stony-faced in the dock when the guilty verdict was read. The victim’s family held hands and whispered “yes” in the well of the court.
Opening the case earlier Ms Hunter said: “On Thursday 31 October 2018 shortly after 1.58pm Stephen O’Rourke, dressed in his Hi-Vis vest and beanie hat, stabbed and killed Rocky Djelal.
“As the sun was shining and children were playing on swings, Rocky Djelal was chatting on the telephone and looking on as he waited for his girlfriend Elle Carter to come back from her mother’s and join him in the park.
“Stephen O’Rourke had spent the last hour and a half following Rocky Djelal almost in his very footsteps.
“When he located him, with the advantage of surprise, looking for all the world like one of the workmen working nearby… He calmly, coldly and deliberately walked up to Rocky Djelal and stabbed him in what can only be described, the crown say, as a clinically savage, pre-planned, execution-style killing.
“Witnesses describe hearing a shriek coming from nearby as if from a sort of wild bird, which is precisely what one thought he was hearing until he saw the arms of another person flailing on the ground.
“Stephen O’Rourke knew Rocky Djelal well. Not only had their families known each other all their lives and had lived near to each other when the children were all growing up, but eighteen years previously on 20 August 2000.”
Michael O’Rourke, brother to Stephen, Jason and Caroline O’Rourke was also murdered.
Ms Hunter continued: “Whilst Rocky Djelal was one of a number of people arrested for that murder, he was subsequently released without charge, and no one was ever prosecuted
“It is clear however, that Stephen O’Rourke at least and his siblings continued to believe he was one of those responsible.’
Jurors heard O’Rourke enlisted his 34-year-old brother Jason, aka “Biggie,” to assist in the killing and hide the blood-stained clothes after the execution.
The sibling was initially arrested alongside O’Rourke but killed himself while awaiting trial.
O’Rourke selected a kitchen knife from a “grisly collection” of weapons he hoarded in his bedroom and set out to execute the ‘carefully planned’ attack.
e scoped out a CCTV blind spot near the children’s playground where he pounced on Mr Djelal in the “military-style” killing.
The prosecutor said: “There were construction works taking place in the park right next to the caf and children’s playground where Rocky Djelal was murdered.
“Unsurprisingly workers on the site as part of their work attire, wore hi-vis jackets and vests.
“31 October was a significant date in the O’Rourke family calendar. It was the anniversary of Paddy O’Rourke’s funeral.
“On 31 October 2018, some 18 years after Paddy had been killed, Stephen O’Rourke had dressed himself as a labourer: in boots, dark paint-splashed trousers, a hoodie and a high-vis jacket when he set off in search of his prey.
“No doubt say the crown that he intended his attire to be something of a disguise, not least to Rocky Djelal, allowing him to pass himself off as a labourer in whom no-one would be interested as he carried out his deliberate and carefully planned attack.
“[After] O’Rourke disappears out of the view of the camera, Rocky Djelal can be seen stumbling back into view on the other side of the stretch of pathway By which time he had been fatally stabbed.
“He can be seen running, then stumbling and collapsing over the fence into the children’s play area.”
The prosecutor said Mr Djelal had fought for his life by raising his hands defensively, but “so deeply does the knife go in that it chips a notch out of the bone of his left forearm”.
Emergency services including a helicopter arrived at the scene and battled to save the victim’s life but despite their best efforts he was pronounced dead at 2.30pm.
Mr Djelal’s heartbroken father arrived at the same time as police, running towards his son’s body calling out: “Where’s my boy?”
Nanny Petya Chobanova-Dimova was taking a baby for a stroll nearby when she watched O’Rourke flee the scene with a chilling “ironic smile” on his face.
“As he turned towards Gomm Road she saw that he had what she described chillingly as an ironic smile on his face,” the prosecutor said.
O’Rourke became convinced his brother’s killers were linked to a building company called Nordic Construction who had been messaging him as he hunted for a job.
The killer messaged his girlfriend about the perceived threats, dubbing them “plastic gangster c*” who he would “f up” the next chance he gets.
Stacey Browne described her lover as “running around like Rambo” after the flurry of paranoid and texts on 27 October.
Just four days later he carried out the “clinically savage” execution.
O’Rourke, of Grosvenor Park, Bermondsey, London, denied but was convicted of murder.
He will return for sentence on a date that has not yet been decided.