Birmingham riots driver: Deaths were an accident

 

A driver accused of deliberately mowing down and killing three men as they tried to protect shops from looters today said the collision was an accident, telling a court: “I haven't got it in me to do something like that.”

Ian Beckford, 30, denies murdering Haroon Jahan, 20, and brothers Shazad Ali, 30, and Abdul Musavir, 31, during last summer's riots.

The three victims were struck by Beckford's Mazda car on August 10 during disorder in the Winson Green area of Birmingham.

Giving evidence at the city's Crown Court, Beckford told jurors he was at the wheel of the Mazda and was trying to get along Dudley Road without being attacked by a group of men armed with sticks and rocks on the roadside when he hit the three men.

He said: "I was just frightened, I just wanted to get past the group, that's all I wanted to do. I didn't want my car to get smashed up because I had that car up for sale."

Asked by his barrister Paul Lewis QC if he had intended to kill the two brothers and their friend, he said: "No I did not.

"I'm not capable of doing anything like that. I could not just drive my car into people and kill them. I haven't got it in me to do something like that.

"I wouldn't do something like that, not in a million years I wouldn't."

He added: "To me it was an accident, to me it was absolutely an accident.

"There is no way I could have prevented that from happening. It could have been prevented but not by me. It could have been prevented by the group (on the roadside)."

Beckford, of Holly Bush Grove, Quinton, Birmingham, had been friends with Abdul Musavir and Shazad Ali for "about 13 or 14 years", the court has heard.

He said: "Both of them was my very good friends, the people I sat down and ate food with, I would never have done that to nobody.

"I've got kids, I've got a family, and I wouldn't want anybody to do that to my family so I wouldn't do that to no-one."

The prosecution claims the victims were among a group of pedestrians deliberately drawn into the road by another car, before being hit by the Mazda in a "modern-day chariot charge" that had been planned in a side street minutes earlier.

Beckford denied being part of a plan to target the men gathered on Dudley Road, dismissing the prosecution's case as "not realistic".

Beckford and seven co-defendants deny murder.

PA