Man jailed for burning riots car


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The Independent Online

A man who helped burn out a car which struck and killed three men during last summer's riots has been sentenced to a 16-month jail term.

Liam Young, who was freed on licence immediately due to time served on remand, also drove two men who were acquitted of murder away from the scene of the deaths in Winson Green, Birmingham.

The city's crown court heard that Young, 29, admitted he was responsible for setting fire to a Mazda car minutes after it hit Haroon Jahan, Shazad Ali and Abdul Musavir on August 10 last year.

A jury at the same court yesterday cleared eight men, including Ian Beckford, who was at the wheel of the Mazda, of murdering the three victims.

Opening the case against Young, prosecutor Timothy Spencer QC said he was known to all eight men who were found not guilty of murder.

Mr Spencer told the court: "My Lord knows that at 1.16am three men were killed when a car driven by Mr Beckford, a Mazda saloon, hit them very close to the junction of Winson Street and Dudley Road.

"After stopping briefly, Mr Beckford resumed his progress on the Dudley Road before turning into Barford Road."

Young, who was driving a van, then had a discussion with Beckford and was recruited to destroy the Mazda, which was burnt out after a petrol can was brought to the scene.

The father-of-one, who also drove Beckford and two other men to the Handsworth area, pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice on the basis that he did not know the Mazda had been involved in three deaths.

Richard Atkins, mitigating on behalf of Young, said his client had spent 11 months in custody, equating to a 22-month jail sentence.

Mr Atkins said: "When he was asked to help destroy the car, he was still unaware of what it had been involved in, but understood it must have been involved in something criminal or something of a serious nature.

"He only learned of the alleged use of the car in the killing of three men when watching television later that morning."

The court heard that Young, of Bryant Street, Winson Green, handed himself in to police 10 days after the deaths and had spent 333 days in custody.

Young, who also knew the victims, submitted a letter to the court prior to sentencing in which he expressed his remorse and said he could still not explain why he got involved.

Sentencing Young, Mr Justice Flaux said: "Even though other defendants were acquitted by the jury yesterday, the fact remains that in burning the car you were potentially destroying evidence which could have assisted the police inquiry."

Meanwhile, the Chief Constable of the West Midlands, Chris Sims, issued a statement concerning the three-month trial which ended yesterday.

Mr Sims said: "I understand the terrible impact that yesterday's verdict had on two families who were already grieving the loss of three young men.

"My officers carried out a painstaking investigation in difficult circumstances.

"The people involved in the incident were identified and the facts put before the jury, including disturbing CCTV footage of the event."

Mr Sims, who said he respected the jury's decision, also commented on a finding made by the trial judge that a senior officer who led the inquiry had lied on oath about the late disclosure of evidence.

The chief officer added: "I understand that this particular issue is of significant concern to our communities.

"Determining a police officer has lied in court is a serious issue.

"I do not at this time understand how, on the facts currently known, this decision has been reached.

"I have asked officers and legal advisers to review transcripts and statements on that part of the proceedings to determine what steps I may wish to take on this matter."