Combined sentence of 78 years for defendants convicted in connection with kidnap and murder

28/03/2011

Six people were today (March 28) given a combined sentence of 78 years for offences in connection with the kidnap and murder of Watford man, Mahmood Ahmad.

They were sentenced at St Albans Crown Court by the Honourable Mr Justice Cooke following a ten-week trial and three days of deliberating before unanimous verdicts. It took 12 jurors over three days to deliberate and return their unanimous verdicts.

Mahmood, 41, was kidnapped outside his home address in Watford in the early hours of 7 March last year. He had just finished work at the Lahore Kebab House on Umberston Street, Aldgate.

Those convicted and their sentences are as follows:

  • Mohammed Riaz, aged 34, of no fixed abode, was found guilty of murder, kidnap, false imprisonment and three counts of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. He was given 30 years imprisonment.
  • Sharif Mohammed, aged 37, from Ilford, was found guilty of murder, false imprisonment and two counts of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. He was given 26 years imprisonment.
  • Faisal Chowdhury, aged 18, from Newham, was found guilty of kidnap and false imprisonment. He was given three years and six months imprisonment.
  • Arnold Yousaf, aged 19, from East London, was found guilty of kidnap and false imprisonment. He was given three years and six months imprisonment.
  • Amirzada Hussain, aged 37, from East London, was found guilty of manslaughter, false imprisonment and one count of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. He was given 12 years imprisonment.
  • Sabra Sultana, aged 36, from Ilford, was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. She was given three years imprisonment.

Mahmood's body has never been found and none of the convicted people have spoken during interview about where his body might be.

CPS prosecutor, Peter Shaw, said: 'Mohammed Riaz was a violent man obsessed with his ex-wife and ultimately, this resulted in the disappearance and death of Mahmood Ahmad, whose body has never been found. Riaz and his co-defendants have been convicted by a jury and have now been brought back before the courts and been sentenced appropriately for their crimes by the Honourable Mr Justice Cooke.

'Justice has now been done for Mahmood's family. We can only hope that one day they will have the solace of a proper funeral for him.'

Det. Chief Insp. Melanie Burn, from the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit, said: 'Today's sentences are very positive and send a strong message about how crimes as serious as this will be treated in Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire. The decision by the judge to award 78 years in total for all defendants I think represents both the severity of the crime these individuals were involved in and justice being served.

'The behaviour of Riaz and his conspirators is nothing short of barbaric and cruel. They also chose not to plead guilty at the earliest opportunity and have put Mahmood's family through the horrendous ordeal of their gruesome actions being played out in court.'

'Our thoughts are with Mahmood's family at this time. I would like to praise them for their courage and support throughout the investigation and trial. I hope these sentences will bring them some sense of justice and in time enable them to move forward.'

Sentencing, the Honourable Mr Justice Cooke described Riaz as the 'key architect' in a premeditated crime where he watched Mahmood over a period of months in order to find the whereabouts of his ex wife - Mahmood's sister. He then recruited the other defendants to help at different stages in the kidnap, false imprisonment and later murder of Mahmood, before trying to destroy the evidence.

The judge, addressing the defendants, added: 'Only you know exactly what occurred and the precise motivation, and you have chosen not to discuss those night's events.'

He also praised Mahmood's family for their conduct during the trial and expressed the court's sympathy.