Underworld informant avoids jail for shallow grave murder cover-up

The defendant gave evidence in court, leading to the conviction of Amraj Poonia for murder as well as his accomplices.

Emily Pennink
Friday 20 October 2023 16:17 BST
Mohammed Shah Subhani was killed in 2019 (Metropolitan Police/PA)
Mohammed Shah Subhani was killed in 2019 (Metropolitan Police/PA)

An underworld whistleblower who walked into a police station and confessed to helping to dispose of a body in a woodland grave has walked free from court.

The information given by “Person X” led to the discovery of the remains of Mohammed Shah Subhani, 27, months after he went missing and the arrest of his killer Amraj Poonia.

The defendant gave evidence in court, leading to the conviction of Poonia for murder as well as his accomplices, brother Raneel Poonia, Mohanad Riad and Mahamud Ismail.

On Friday, Judge Mark Dennis KC made a “substantial reduction” and sentenced Person X to 16 months suspended for two years for perverting the course of justice, which the defendant admitted.

The judge said: “The evidence given by the defendant heavily implicated Amraj Poonia and provided the only evidence as to the cause of death, namely strangulation.”

Person X’s evidence at the Old Bailey “played a critical part” in the convictions, Judge Dennis said.

The judge said Person X had expressed “genuine remorse” and turned away from the drug-taking lifestyle which had brought him into the orbit of the organised criminals.

Referring to victim impact statements, he said: “It is clear this event has had a profound effect on the whole family, both the murder itself and the cover-up.

“The nature and circumstances of the death, the disposal of the body and seven months of uncertainty and stress that followed, together with the deception and betrayal brought about by the Poonia brothers, has only exacerbated the pain and loss itself.

“The family, it would appear, do recognise and feel grateful never the less at the defendant’s decision … whatever happened before.”

The court had heard Mr Subhani was killed after a falling out over a kilo of cannabis that went missing after it was given to Poonia for safe-keeping.

On May 7 2019, he was ambushed and strangled by Poonia at the defendant’s family business R&J Plumbing in Hounslow, west London.

Mr Subhani’s body was then rolled up in a carpet to be transported to woodland a couple of days later where it was burnt and buried.

Later the same day, Poonia “unashamedly” went to the Subhani family home in Hounslow and acted as if nothing had happened, jurors were told.

The case was initially treated as a missing persons inquiry before a murder investigation was launched and possible suspects identified.

The breakthrough came around six months later when Person X walked into Stoke Newington police station, admitted taking part in the disposal of Mr Subhani’s body and named his killer.

Acting on the information, Mr Subhani’s badly decomposed body was found miles away in woodland in Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire.

Opening the facts of the case against Person X, prosecutor Tom Little KC described how the defendant had been called on to help dispose of Mr Subhani’s body and his Audi car two days after the killing.

Mr Little said that in Person X’s presence, Amraj Poonia “admitted to strangling Mr Subhani and there was relatively open coversation about what had taken place”.

Person X then drove one of two vehicles in convoy from south-west London to Buckinghamshire and acted as a “look-out” as three others burnt the body and dug a shallow grave, Mr Little said.

Person X went on to sell the victim’s Audi car for £100 and it was later recovered by police.

Mitigating, David Whittaker KC said that until Person X walked into Stoke Newington police station, police were making “little headway”.

Without the information, Mr Whittaker suggested, the murder would have remained unsolved and Mr Subhani’s family would not have been able to lay him to rest.

The barrister said the risk to the defendant after giving evidence was unlikely to go away and remained high.

He said Person X will have to spend most of the rest of their life looking over their shoulder.

Earlier this month, Poonia, 28, aka Bigs, from Horley, was jailed for life with a minimum term of 25 years having been found guilty of murder and perverting the course of justice.

His brother Raneel Poonia, 26, aka Ace, from Slough, was jailed for seven years for perverting the course of justice.

Riad, 23, known as Emz, from Hounslow, and Ismail, 27, aka Skinny and Major, from Brentford, were found guilty of the same offence and jailed for two years and five-and-a-half years respectively.

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