Drug dealers murdered whole family in plot to take over freight business

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The Independent Online

The killers kidnapped three generations of the family, murdered them, and then pretended that they had left Britain to live abroad. The three adult's bodies were found in the sea off the south coast, while the remains of the children, aged three months and 18-months, have never been recovered.

The gang had planned to use Mr Chohan's London-based freight company as a front for importing drugs.

Kenneth Regan, a convicted drugs dealer and police informer, was convicted yesterday at the Old Bailey of murdering Amarjit Chohan, 45, his wife, Nancy, 24, their two sons, Devinder and Ravinder, and Mrs Chohan's mother, Charanjit Kaur, 51, in one of the longest ever criminal trials.

His accomplice, William Horncy, 53, was also found guilty of the murders. Peter Rees, 40, the third man, was convicted of Mr Chohan's murder and of assisting an offender. They will be sentenced later. Police described the gang as "cold and callous" and their crime was "beyond the comprehension of decent society".

Mr Chohan, who was known as Anil, and his family disappeared from their home in Hounslow, west London, in February 2003.

Regan, of Wilton, Wiltshire, planned to take over Mr Chohan's fruit and vegetable freight company to use it to smuggle drugs. He lured Mr Chohan to Stonehenge in Wiltshire, gagged him, tortured him and forced him to sign over his company before murdering him. He also made him write a note saying he was leaving the country after getting in trouble with the law.

Mrs Chohan became increasingly concerned about her husband's disappearance. Four days after Mr Chohan was last seen alive Regan went to the Chohans' home and either imprisoned or murdered the others.

Regan then drew a friend of the late Paula Yates, the television presenter, into his scheme. Unknown to Belinda Brewin, who was working for Regan, the killer used her 50-acre estate at Stoodleigh, in Tiverton, Devon, secretly to bury the family. The mass grave was dug up a few days later in April and the bodies dumped in the English Channel after Ms Brewin became suspicious and contacted police. When she later gave evidence against Regan at his trial, she received a death threat.

Mr Chohan's body was found floating in the sea near Bournemouth pier in the April that year and his wife's recovered in the same area in July. Mrs Kaur's was found in November 2003 off the Isle of Wight. Before he died, Mr Chohan left a vital clue pointing to his killer. When his body was retrieved, a piece of paper was found inside one of his socks. It was a letter addressed to Regan, dated 12 February 2003, the day before Mr Chohan disappeared.

The original police inquiry was prompted by Nancy Chohan's brother, Onkar Verma, who lives in New Zealand. He had refused to accept from the start that his mother, sister and her family would have vanished without trace. Within days of their disappearance he sent an e-mail to Sir John Stevens, who was then the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.

Regan, a career criminal, fled to Spain and then to Belgium. He was caught in Ghent in the August and brought back to England.

The trial, which began last November, is believed to be one of the longest murder trials in criminal history and cost £10m. The jury took 13 days to find the men guilty of murder.

MrVernasaid: "The deliberate, premeditated slaughter of my innocent family is akin to me being given a life sentence - a life with no laughter, no happiness and no joy." Detective Chief Inspector Dave Little, who led the investigation, said: "A young family, a new family, was entirely wiped out at the hands of these murderous men in an attempt to line their own pockets."

The police intend to question the three men again to try to find out where the bodies of the children were dumped and how Mr Chohan was killed.