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Three get life in jail for racist killing | UK news | The Guardian

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Three get life in jail for racist killing

Asian trio got high on drink and drugs, armed themselves for 'hunting party' and made random attack on white teenager, court told

Three Asian men were yesterday sentenced to life imprisonment after being found guilty of the racist murder of a white teenager at a time when tensions were high following the September 11 attacks.

The men pounced on Ross Parker, 17, as he walked along a dim cycleway in Peterborough after finishing work, and attacked him with CS spray, a hammer and foot-long hunting knife.

Back at the garage they used as a den one of the men brandished the blood-stained knife and declared: "Cherish the blood."

Northampton crown court was told the three men, Ahmed Ali Awan, 22, Shaied Nazir, 22, and Sarfraz Ali, 25, spent the evening before the murder, which happened 10 days after last year's attacks on New York, in a city centre nightclub.

In the early hours of the next morning, the three, still under the influence of drink or drugs or both, armed themselves in preparation for what was described in court as a "hunting party" or "mission."

Shortly after 1am, Ross was walking home with his girlfriend, Nicola Toms, after completing his work in a pub kitchen, when a voice whispered: "Better start running."

Ms Toms ran to get help as a group of men, some wearing balaclavas, launched their savage attack on the teenager.

His girlfriend heard him cry out twice or three times before she managed to flag down a police car. By the time officers reached him, he was beyond help. The killers had sprayed CS gas into Mr Parker's eyes, then kicked and punched him, struck him with a panel beater's hammer and stabbed him through the throat.

Afterwards the men returned to their den, which they called "the shed", and Awan celebrated the killing by instructing his fellow murderers to "cherish the blood".

Police later found bloodstained clothes, balaclavas, a hunting knife and hammer in the garage.

The court was told that the defendants were from decent backgrounds. Stephen Coward, QC, prosecuting, said: "They are all hard-working lads, but what you have seen is the dark side of their characters."

Nazir, nicknamed Biggy, was a door-to-door sales rep for a power company. He admitted being present when Ross was attacked. He said he had kicked him a couple of times and had tried to spray the CS gas but had ended up spraying himself. He denied being party to any plan to kill.

Ali and Awan denied being there. Ali was given a character reference during the trial by the deputy mayor of Peterborough, Raja Akhtar. Awan was the managing director of a labour contracting firm. In cross-examination, it was put to him that he was the ringleader and had an interest in knives and replica firearms.

Nazir testified that gangs of white youths were roaming the streets "Paki bashing".

The court also heard how another youth, arrested in connection with the murder but later released, was heard shouting "Taliban" and "Osama" while in custody.

As the verdicts were delivered, the victim's mother, Davinia, burst into tears. She was comforted by her husband, Tony.

Sentencing the three men to life, Sir Edwin Jowett, sitting as a deputy high court judge, said: "You put your heads together with the purpose of arming yourselves and of attacking an innocent man you might find by chance simply because he was of a different race to yourselves. A racist killing must be one of the gravest kinds of killing."

In the wake of the murder the number of "racial incidents" in Peterborough increased dramatically.

Harmesh Lakhanpaul, director of Peterborough Racial Equality Council, said Ross's murder was a "very tragic and very challenging moment for the city. It stretched the communities and tested their tolerance and patience. We believe we are coming through it."

A fourth defendant, Ziaraff Mahrad, 21, was cleared of both murder and an alternative charge of manslaughter.

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Three get life in jail for racist killing

This article was published on the Guardian website at 20.26 EST on Thursday 19 December 2002.

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