1 Feb 2013

Two guilty of Cardiff teenager’s murder after botched hit

Two hitmen, who stabbed innocent teenager Aamir Siddiqi to death after mistaking him for their intended target, are found guilty of his murder by a Cardiff court.

Ben Hope and Jason Richards, both from Cardiff, were each paid £1,000 in “blood money” to murder a middle-aged family man who owed money to a shady businessman.

The “hit” went tragically wrong when the balaclava-clad killers, who were high on drugs, went to the wrong address in Roath, Cardiff, in April 2010, and murdered teenager Aamir Siddiqi by mistake.

Siddiqi, 17, was knifed down on the doorstep of his home, while his parents Iqbal and Parveen Siddiqi fought off his attackers, sustaining knife wounds themselves.

Hope and Richards both denied murdering Aamir and two separate counts of the attempted murder of his parents.

They were convicted unanimously of all charges a day after the jury retired at Swansea Crown Court.

‘Staggering incompetence’

Heroin addict Ben Hope was clueless rather than clever and went about the murder with “staggering incompetence”, according to the prosecution.

Siddiqi’s sister, Umbareen, 33, said after the declaration that the family were “relieved” at the guilty verdict. She described how a house which was previously filled with love and laughter was “brutally destroyed by the callous, vicious attack” on her parents and brother.

“Within seconds our lives changed for ever. The world has moved on in almost three years since the murder but for us the attack is as fresh as if it happened yesterday,” she added.

Hope was already a known criminal and drug addict in Cardiff when Siddiqi’s murder was carried out. High on drugs, he went to the Siddiqi family home in Ninian Road.

The slender link it had with the real target’s home was a slight resemblance to the property of the person he was paid to kill: the intended target of the killing lived in Shirley Road, 60 yards away, in a similar looking red-brick property.

High-pitched cry

Far from him keeping a low profile, the attack took place in daylight with Hope clad in a balaclava, wielding a knife and making a high-pitched cry. He made his getaway in a stolen Volvo car he had often used, soon abandoned, and was covered in his fingerprints and contained his victim’s blood.

The trial of Hope and Richards also lifted the lid on a murky criminal underworld in Cardiff’s leafy suburbs.

The tragic train of events which led to Siddiqi’s murder stemmed from a house sale, which turned into a nightmare for the killers’ intended target, Mohammed Tanhai.

Even before the murder, Mr Tanhai had lived in fear for his life after he could not repay money he owed when a property deal fell through.

The shady businessman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, originally offered Mr Tanhai cash to take his property off the market, eventually handing more than £50,000 in cash in part-payment for the property, refusing a receipt on each occasion.

It is now thought the payments were made as an elaborate way of using Mr Tanhai in an unsuccessful attempt to launder drug money.