Stephen O’Rourke, 48 of Grosvenor Park, Southwark appeared at the Old Bailey on Tuesday, 15 December where a jury found him guilty of the murder of 38-year-old Rocky Djelal.
He was remanded in custody to appear at the same court for sentencing on a date to be determined.
Police were called at 1.59pm on Wednesday, 31 October 2018 to reports of a man stabbed in Southwark Park, Rotherhithe.
The attack happened by a popular children’s playground near the Gomm Road entrance. Stephen O’Rourke, who had been seen in the park prior to the attack, approached Rocky Djelal and stabbed him with a knife in the back and side.
CCTV seized by detectives during the investigation showed O’Rourke searching for Rocky in the park and surrounding roads, before approaching him. After the stabbing, he was seen casually walking away.
People in the park came to Rocky’s aid. Police, London’s Air Ambulance and the London Ambulance Service attended but despite their best efforts, he died at the scene.
A post-mortem examination conducted the following day gave the cause of death as a stab wound.
A murder investigation was launched by the Met’s Specialist Crime Command (Homicide).
Stephen O’Rourke was subsequently arrested on Friday 16 November and charged with murder on Saturday 17 November.
His brother – Jason O’Rourke, 34 of Catford Hill, Lewisham – was arrested at a separate address on the same day and charged the following day with assisting an offender. He subsequently died while in prison.
Detective Chief Inspector Simon Harding, who led the investigation, said: “Rocky Djelal’s murder has left a family devastated. His death has left a hole in their lives that none of us can imagine.
“Stephen O’Rourke had deliberately set out that day to find Rocky; he attended the park intending to carry out a targeted and brutal attack that would ultimately end Rocky’s life.
“The casual manner with which O’Rourke walked away as Rocky lay dying was chilling. One witness described in court how she saw O’Rourke smirk as he left the scene.
“Stephen O’Rourke has been shown to be a dangerous, highly violent man and I hope that his conviction brings a measure of comfort and sense of justice to Rocky Djelal’s friends and loved ones.
“The family and I are extremely grateful to the members of the public who comforted Rocky on that dreadful day and went on to assist with the investigation.”
The following statement has been released on behalf of Rocky’s family:
“We are a very close family who adore each other and would do anything to help each other. Rocky was 38 when he was taken from us. He led a somewhat troubled and chaotic life and had to deal with the consequences of this. However, to us he was a brother, a son, an uncle and most of all a father. His daughter was 16 years old when her Dad was taken from her.
“The park that evening was full of relatives and friends who wanted to support us and remember Rocky. We all stayed in the park while our priest prayed for Rocky, we were there until midnight when the coroner removed his body. Southwark Park is really significant to us as a family and we spent much of our time in this park creating some of our best memories. It was heartbreaking that we never got to say goodbye and that our final memory of Rocky in this park is one that tore us apart.
“The days leading up to the arrests were torture. We couldn’t function properly, we weren’t eating or sleeping and our bodies were in constant fight or flight mode. When the police released CCTV footage of Rocky’s murderer, we didn’t recognise him and we felt helpless. We really thought we would know who it was and be able to help.
“The police officers handling the investigation were brilliant, they worked tirelessly in finding the people who killed Rocky. When we found out they had Stephen O’Rourke in custody we were in utter shock. They used to live in the same block of flats as us when we were growing up.
“For us Rocky was a gentle giant with a heart of gold who adored his daughter and loved his family. He was a joker with a light-hearted, carefree approach to life. He was spirited, fearless and had enough courage to walk tall and stand by his principles. We loved this about him.
“His death has been debilitating for all of us. We miss the individual relationships we had with him and think about him every day. We are all really struggling with the physical, emotional and mental issues that come with losing someone so special to us. The real impact that Rocky’s death has had on our family cannot be put into words. Until you have lost a child, parent, sibling, relative or friend to such violence you will never truly understand the immense suffering or devastating effect it has on your life.
“We have lost two years of our lives waiting for the trial to begin. Although Rocky’s death has bought us even closer together there is still a lot of tension, anger and sleepless nights in our homes as we wait for justice to be served. People talk about closure with this trial but for our family there will be no closure. We are living our worst nightmare and we will never wake up from it.”