19 Jul 2012

Eight men cleared of triple riot murders

A judge appeals for calm after eight men are cleared of murdering three friends who were hit by a car during last summer’s riots.

Prosecutors alleged that Haroon Jahan, Shazad Ali and Abdul Musavir were protecting local businesses when they were murdered in the modern-day equivalent of a “chariot charge” involving three cars in Winson Green, Birmingham.

But Ryan Goodwin, Shaun Flynn, Juan Ruiz-Gaviria, Joshua Donald, Everton Graham, Adam King, Ian Beckford and Aaron Parkins were cleared of three counts of murder each by a jury at Birmingham Crown Court today after just over four hours of deliberations.

After the verdicts, trial judge Mr Justice Flaux appealed for calm on the streets of Birmingham and urged people to respect the jury’s findings.

The judge said: “On any view, this has been a terrible case – a tragic and pointless loss of three young lives.

“However, by their verdicts the jury have decided that this was not a deliberate killing, that there was no plan to kill these three young men.

“The jury have decided that this was a terrible accident.”

As senior police officers in Birmingham pledged to step up patrols following the not guilty verdicts, it emerged that the detective who led the triple murder inquiry is facing an inquiry into allegations that he lied on oath.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission said it was investigating the conduct of Detective Chief Inspector Anthony Tagg, who led the inquiry into the deaths of the three men.

‘Calm is maintained’

The judge, who said the deaths occurred at a time of unprecedented civil disorder, added: “It is important that however strong feelings are within the community in Winson Green and adjacent areas, that calm is maintained and that these verdicts are respected.

“Any other action would not be honouring those who died. In fact, quite the reverse.

“What happened on the streets of Birmingham and other cities last August should never be repeated.”

The prosecution alleged that all eight defendants were party to a plan to drive a vehicle at a crowd of people in Dudley Road, Winson Green, in the early hours of 10 August.

CCTV seen by the jury showed a crowd of around 80 men gathered on Dudley Road trying to protect businesses from looters on the night of August 10th when the three men died.

It was alleged that a Ford Fiesta and an Audi car were used to lure pedestrians into the road, where they were hit by a Mazda.

Denied plans to harm

But the defendants denied the existence of any plan to harm pedestrians and the driver of the Mazda, 30-year-old Ian Beckford, denied deliberately driving into the victims.

Beckford, of Holly Bush Grove, Quinton, Birmingham, told the trial he was good friends with siblings Mr Musavir, 31, and Mr Ali, 30, and had not intended to knock down, kill or seriously harm any member of the crowd.

Hours after the deaths, 21-year-old Haroon Jahan’s father Tariq made an emotional appeal to groups of youths gathered outside his home in Winson Green.

His call for calm was credited with helping to bring an end to the riots and he later received an award for his compassion and dignity in the aftermath of his son’s death.