Gang leader jailed for murder of PC Sharon Behenivsky after 15 years on the run

Gang leader jailed for murder of PC Sharon Behenivsky after 15 years on the run

Piran Ditta Khan claimed he went to Pakistan for his son’s wedding (Picture: AP / PA)

A robbery mastermind who murdered a police officer and went on the run for 15 years has been jailed for life.

Piran Ditta Khan, 75, fled to Pakistan after 38-year-old mum-of-three PC Sharon Beshenivsky was gunned down while interrupting his raid on a Bradford travel agency in 2005.

Khan planned the raid and kept a lookout from his car while three of his henchmen, armed with a pistol and a MAC-10 submachine gun, ransacked the family-run business for around £5,000 cash.

Sharon and her colleague, PC Teresa Milburn, then 37, were shot at close range shortly after arriving at the scene in what a judge called a ‘gratuitous’ and ‘brutal’ killing.

The pair were not on on-call duty but volunteered to respond because no other officers were immediately available, prosecutors say.

Sharon, who had been on the job for only nine months, was killed on her daughter’s fourth birthday. Milburn was severely injured but survived.

On Friday a court heard how Lydia Beshenivsky, the officer’s youngest child, ‘screamed her head off’ after being told her mum had died.

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PC Beshenivsky was killed on her daughter’s fourth birthday (Picture: AP)

In a victim impact statement read out at the Old Bailey, Lydia said: ‘There will always be a void in my life – a void that should have been filled with my mum’s presence but as a result of violent, callous actions by you, Piran Ditta Khan, and your associates that day, you robbed me of a future and precious time with my mum.

‘Every birthday is a reminder of what happened that day. It has recently been Mother’s Day, and while my friends are celebrating with their mums, I sadly can never do that.’

The officer’s husband Paul, said telling their kids was ‘the hardest thing I have ever had to do’.

His statement read: “The way we lost Sharon was in the most brutal, callous and futile way.

A huge manhunt in the wake of the incident saw six of the seven men involved in the robbery convicted within four years.

Muzzaker Shah and brothers Yusuf Jama and Mustaf Jama – who went into the travel agency, Universal Express – were convicted of murder, robbery and firearms offences.

Brothers Hassan and Faisal Razzaq, who also helped plan the raid and acted as lookouts, were found guilty of manslaughter, robbery and firearms offences.

A photo of Khan issued while police were looking for him (Picture: SWNS)

Fourth lookout Raza Ul-Haq Aslam was convicted of robbery but cleared of manslaughter after a court heard he didn’t know the others were carrying guns.

He tried to claim a £100,000 reward by grassing on his accomplices through Crimewatch after seeing a TV special on the incident, jurors in a 2006 court hearing were told.

Khan, who was described as the ‘architect of the robbery’, told his trial this year that he went to Pakistan for his son’s wedding.

He said he did not return because he got ‘scared’ by news reports saying he was a wanted man.

Khan was arrested in Pakistan in 2020 after a joint investigation by the UK National Crime Agency and Pakistani law enforcement. He was extradited to the UK last April.

Khan pictured nearly two decades after the murder (Picture: AP)

The 75-year-old gave evidence largely through a Punjabi interpreter, telling his barrister: ‘My English is street English, your English is book English.’

He told the court he grew up in Pakistan as one of eight children and came to the UK alone as a teenager in 1965, staying initially with an uncle in Bradford.

He went on to live in Nottingham, Derby and Dewsbury, having a number of factory jobs and at one point going to Denmark to work at a hotel.

He went back to Pakistan to get married and had five children before returning to Bradford, initially alone.

By the time his family joined him in around 2002 he was living in London, and was based in Enfield at the time of the robbery, he told jurors.

Khan said he met Mohammad Yousaf, who went on to open Universal Express, while living in Bradford and had been using his services to transfer money to family in Pakistan since 1968.

Khan being taken into custody by West Yorkshire Police last yeard (Picture: PA)

He claimed the motive for the robbery was that Mr Yousaf owed him £12,000 which ‘went missing’ in 1996, telling jurors he never used the business after that.

Prosecutor Robert Smith KC said Khan’s claim of being defrauded was an ‘entirely false’ attempt to explain why he was in Bradford at the time of the robbery and murder.

Jurors heard he has convictions from between 1978 and 1999 for assault occasioning actual bodily harm, assault and possessing an offensive weapon.

The defendant said one assault conviction from 1980 related to ‘shoving and slapping’ between him and a woman who ‘wanted to marry him’ while another from 1990 was an incident where some customers were ‘misbehaving’ in his restaurant and he hit one of them ‘so they would run away’.

He told the court he was ‘not a naughty person’ and did not cause trouble, but would ‘defend himself’.

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