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Minimum terms

High Court setting of minimum terms for mandatory life sentences under the Criminal Justice Act 2003

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Neutral Citation Number: [2008] EWHC 42 (QB)

Case No: 2004/715/MTS

Royal Courts of Justice
Strand, London, WC2A 2LL

Date: 30/01/2008

Before :

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Between :

                                   Regina Claimant
                                    - and - 
                               Shaied Nazir

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Approved Judgment
I direct that pursuant to CPR PD 39A para 6.1 no official shorthand note shall be taken of this Judgment and that copies of this version as handed down may be treated as authentic.



Mr Justice Davis :
1. The applicant Shaied Nazir was born on 19 November 1980.  On 19 December 2002 after a trial before Mr Justice Jowitt and a jury in Northampton Crown Court he was, with two others, convicted on a count of murder.  He was sentenced to life imprisonment and the trial judge specified a minimum term to be served in his case of 16 years imprisonment.  Because of the high profile nature of the case in the local community (Peterborough) the Judge announced the minimum term which he was recommending in open court.
2. Because of the date of the conviction I am required to have regard to the provisions of the Practice Direction [2004] 1 WLR 2551 and particularly paragraphs iv.49.22 to iv.49.31.  In his comments and sentencing remarks the Judge noted that this was a dreadful and very serious crime which had caused considerable concern in Peterborough.  It was for that reason the Judge made quite detailed sentencing remarks and publicised his recommendation as to the minimum term to be served. 
3. The background facts are these.  The applicant, together with his co-accused, were Asians who lived in the part of Peterborough close to the city centre.  The events in America of 11 September 2001 had given rise to hostility on the part of some of the younger white residents of the city against the Asian community.  The defendants would have been conscious of this although there is no evidence that any of them or their families had personally suffered any harassment.  On the night of 20th/21st September 2001 the applicant, together with two co-accused who were also convicted, went in a group to a night club in Peterborough.  They drank an amount, although they were not actually drunk when they left the club.  From the club the applicant along with others walked towards an ill lit area quite close to the applicant’s home.  By this stage the applicant and the two co-accused had armed themselves with a large hunting knife, a hammer and a can of CS gas.  They also had between them three balaclavas with holes for eyes and mouth.  The deceased was a teenager called Ross Parker.  He was walking with his girl friend, Miss Tongs, along a cycle path.  They came across the group who were complete strangers to them.  As the couple walked along Ross Parker was set upon.  The attack was begun by the applicant who sprayed Ross Park in the face with CS gas; and then he was stabbed three times with a knife from behind through his neck and chest, the knife penetrating each time to a depth of about 6 ins with its point twice emerging through the front of the chest.  He fell to the ground and then was kicked and struck with the hammer.  He bled to death.  Miss Tongs ran off to get help.  After the attack was over the group ran back to the garage, the three defendants and another man (Mahrad) going inside. 
4. The trial judge’s conclusion was that the knife was wielded by the co-accused, Awan and that Awan was the ringleader and had intended to kill.  At the trial the applicant, Nazir, admitted being present and admitted kicking the victim. His case was that he had gone out to buy cigarettes at a nearby petrol station and had no knowledge that any violence had been in prospect before the attack began nor had he any idea that weapons were being taken from the garage.  The judge’s conclusion was the three defendants who were convicted, when they left the garage had a common purpose of finding a white male and attacking him with a knife simply because he was white.  It was a racist killing; the judge also concluded that the applicant, Nazir, did not intend to kill but he must have known that death was highly likely consequence of what they planned to do since they were well aware that Awan had the knife and intended to use it.
5. The applicant was 20 at the time of the offence.  He had one minor previous conviction. 
6. I have had regard to the moving impact statements put in by the mother and family of Ross Parker.  I have also had regard to the representations put in on behalf of the applicant, Nazir.  It is pointed out that he was not the ringleader of the group of attackers and did not actually wield the knife.  Reliance is also placed on his relative youth and lack of relevant previous convictions.  It is pointed out that he is married and has a young son.  It is submitted that the recommendation as to minimum term of the trial judge should not be exceeded.
7. Having considered the circumstances and having regard to considerations of retribution and deterrence, I agree with the recommendation of the trial judge, which in my view represents the appropriate minimum term.  I accordingly specify the minimum term which the applicant is to serve before he is to be considered for release on parole as one of 16 years imprisonment; from which a term of 5 months is to be deducted, representing time spent in custody on remand.

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