JOYRIDERS who mowed down and killed a chef on a Capital street will never be able to live with themselves unless they confess, a top cop has warned.
Tragic Lionel Simenya was hit by a stolen Peugeot 207 and left to die in Fords Road, next to Saughton Park, in the early hours last Thursday.
A crack team of detectives launched a murder investigation and major manhunt after the thieves abandoned the car and fled over a footbridge by the Water of Leith.
“I’ve sat across from people who’ve done this before in an interview room and I can tell you they can’t live with themselves after a period of time and that pressure will intensify,” said Detective Inspector Stuart Alexander.
Police are now trying to piece together exactly what happened in the moments leading up to Mr Simenya, 36, originally from Burundi, being found dying in the street.
They know the Peugeot 207 was stolen from a garage on Fords Road shortly before it ploughed into Mr Simenya.
Detectives refused to confirm reports Mr Simenya was sleeping in his Fiat Fiorino, found in the same road.
Officers know Mr Simenya had been working as a chef earlier in the evening in Gorgie Road before visiting a gym.
But they refused to speculate how he came to be in the street at 3.50am when he was hit.
One theory is that he may have heard the thieves stealing the car and had tried to intervene to prevent their getaway.
Detectives have been trawling CCTV from nearby, including from the garage, and confirmed there was more than one person in the Peugeot at the time.
But officers are keen to hear from anyone who may have been in the area at the time to come forward.
DI Stuart Alexander said: “Anybody who has any information, no matter how insignificant you think that is, please come forward.
“Let us know anything that might assist me bring the perpetrators and persons that were in that Peugeot 207 last week to justice for the sake of Lionel’s family.”
And DI Alexander made a direct plea to those who were in the Peugeot when it hit Mr Simenya.
“We’ve already seen how upset his brother was when he faced the press earlier,” said DI Alexander.
“I also want to appeal to the people who were in that vehicle to come forward and tell us exactly what happened and what the circumstances were of Lionel meeting his death that night.
“I think, having dealt with incidents like this before, you will be struggling to sleep, it’ll be on your mind constantly and you will need to unload this information and pass it on to us.
“There’s people out there who definitely know what happened. Please come forward and give Lionel’s family the satisfaction of knowing what happened to their beloved brother and son.”
DI Alexander previously paid tribute to Mr Simenya, saying: “Lionel Simenya moved to the UK a number of years ago.
“He was a highly thought of, hard working man who kept himself to himself and has met a tragic death.
“I am confident the answer to solving this horrific crime lies in the communities of Edinburgh and no matter how insignificant you think any information is, please contact us and let us assess it.
“This must be playing on the consciences of the individuals responsible and I would urge those people to come forward.”
Single Mr Simenya’s family moved to Belgium from their East African homeland in 1994 before he moved on to Edinburgh in 2011 – working across Scotland.
He is survived by his mother, two older sisters, aged 51 and 40, two older brothers, aged 49 and 43, and younger brother Nicolas, 35.
His younger brother Nicolas flew into Edinburgh from Belgium for a press conference yesterday to appeal for help. He also went to see his brother’s body at the morgue on Wednesday.
The traumatic visit was made all the more harrowing as it would have been Lionel’s 37th birthday.
Flanked by police and an interpreter, an emotional Nicolas fought back tears as he made a direct plea to the killers of his “hardworking and wonderful” older brother.
He told how his brother had enjoyed his time in Edinburgh and never experienced any previous problems.
Nicolas described Lionel’s death as “cruel” on his family and said such an “atrocious” end was unbefitting of a “peaceful” life.
“If you have any sympathy for my family you have to do the right thing and come to talk to the police,” he said
Anyone with information contact the Major Investigation Team via 101, quoting incident number 332 of March 7.
Alternatively, an anonymous report can be made to the charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.