Soldier to serve 25 years for racist murder

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The Independent Online

An Iraq war hero who shot a Bangladeshi waiter dead in a racist murder 14 years ago was jailed for life today.

Soldier Michael Ross, 30, was just 15 when he burst into a restaurant on Orkney and shot Shamsuddin Mahmood in front of horrified diners.

The Black Watch soldier was told by judge Lord Hardie he must spend a minimum of 25 years behind bars before being eligible for parole.

Ross, who was handcuffed as he stood in the dock remained stony-faced as he was sentenced.

Lord Hardie told him: "This was a vicious, evil, unprovoked murder of a defenceless man. The attack was a premeditated assassination."

He added: "On June 2, 1994, you murdered him (Shamsuddin Mahmood) in cold blood in a premeditated fashion.

"He is a great loss to his family and friends and the people he served."

The "savage, merciless and pointless" murder was the first on Orkney for 25 years and the verdict brought a 14 year mystery to an end.

A masked Ross burst into the Mumutaz restaurant on Orkney, just after 7pm on June 2, 1994 and executed the 26-year-old waiter in front of shocked diners.

The jury found Ross guilty of murder by a majority verdict after a six week trial.

He was also found guilty by majority of attempting to defeat the ends of justice by disposing of the murder weapon and changing his clothing.

In his plea in mitigation, Donald Findlay QC, told the court Ross continued to protest his innocence, was not a racist, and his conviction had come as a "great loss" to his family and country.

Northern Constabulary welcomed the sentence and branded the murder "senseless and abhorrent".

A spokesman said: "The sentencing today finally brings a conclusion to a long and difficult period for the family of Shamsuddin and the community in Orkney.

"Crimes such as this are extremely rare in Scotland and virtually unheard of in somewhere like Orkney."

The area procurator fiscal for the Highland and Islands, Andrew Laing, described the murder as "callous".

He said: "This cowardly act shocked not only the local community but people throughout Scotland.

"My thoughts remain with Shamsuddin's family, who I know, since 1994, have been keen to see the perpetrator of this terrible crime brought to justice.

"Prosecutors and officers from Northern Constabulary were determined that justice would be done in this case.

"Many people have worked on this investigation over the years and all will be satisfied with today's outcome.

"It is also appropriate to highlight the crucial part played by members of the public in Kirkwall and elsewhere who acted in great public spirit to assist the police and the court in coming forward and providing vital information."