Eight men cleared of Birmingham riot deaths

 

Eight men were cleared today of murdering three friends who were mowed down by a car during last summer's riots.

The Crown had alleged that Haroon Jahan, Shazad Ali and Abdul Musavir were protecting local businesses when they were murdered in the modern-day equivalent of a "chariot charge" involving three cars in Winson Green, Birmingham.

But Ryan Goodwin, Shaun Flynn, Juan Ruiz-Gaviria, Joshua Donald, Everton Graham, Adam King, Ian Beckford and Aaron Parkins were cleared of three counts of murder each by a jury at Birmingham Crown Court today.

The jury retired yesterday and had been deliberating for just over four hours.

After the verdicts, trial judge Mr Justice Flaux appealed for calm on the streets of Birmingham and urged the community to respect the jury's findings.

The judge said: "On any view this has been a terrible case - a tragic and pointless loss of three young lives.

"However, by their verdicts the jury have decided that this was not a deliberate killing, that there was no plan to kill these three young men.

"The jury have decided that this was a terrible accident."

The judge, who said the deaths occurred at a time of unprecedented civil disorder, added: "It is important that however strong feelings are within the community in Winson Green and adjacent areas, that calm is maintained and that these verdicts are respected.

"Any other action would not be honouring those who died. In fact quite the reverse. What happened on the streets of Birmingham and other cities last August should never be repeated."

The prosecution had alleged that all eight defendants were party to a plan to drive a vehicle at a crowd of people in Dudley Road, Winson Green, in the early hours of August 10.

It was alleged that a Ford Fiesta and an Audi car were used to lure pedestrians into the road, where they were hit by a Mazda.

But the defendants denied the existence of any plan to harm pedestrians and the driver of the Mazda, 30-year-old Ian Beckford, denied deliberately driving into the victims.

Beckford, of Holly Bush Grove, Quinton, Birmingham, told the trial he was good friends with siblings Mr Musavir, 31, and Mr Ali, 30, and had not intended to knock down, kill or seriously harm any member of the crowd.

Hours after the deaths, 21-year-old Haroon Jahan's father Tariq made an emotional appeal to groups of youths gathered outside his home in Winson Green.

His call for calm was credited with helping to bring an end to the riots and he later received an award for his compassion and dignity in the aftermath of his son's death.

PA

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