Man guilty of friend’s shallow grave murder in ‘ultimate betrayal’

Mohammed Shah Subhani’s body was rolled up in a carpet and transported to woodland in Buckinghamshire, where it was burnt and buried.

Emily Pennink
Thursday 27 July 2023 15:36 BST
Mohammed Shah Subhani, known as Shah, who was reported missing on May 7, 2019 (Family handout/Met Police/PA)
Mohammed Shah Subhani, known as Shah, who was reported missing on May 7, 2019 (Family handout/Met Police/PA)

A man who killed a former friend and dumped his partially burnt body in a shallow grave has been found guilty of murder after a secret walk-in police informant broke the case.

Mohammed Shah Subhani, 27, known as Shah and Little Man, was last seen alive visiting R&J Plumbing in Hounslow, west London, on May 7 2019.

After entering the premises, he was killed and his body rolled up in a carpet to be transported to woodland where it was burnt and buried.

Later the same day, his killer, Amraj Poonia, “unashamedly” went to the Subhani family home in Hounslow and acted as if nothing had happened, an Old Bailey jury was 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 an individual, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, walked into a 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.

The court was told that Mr Subhani was killed at the Poonia business after falling out over a kilo of cannabis that went missing after it was given Amraj Poonia for safe-keeping.

Associate Mohanad Riad had recruited two local drug dealers to help stage a fake theft but suspicions erupted into incidents of violence in the weeks before the killing, jurors heard.

Following a trial, Amraj Poonia, 27, aka Bigs, was found guilty of murder.

His brother Raneel Poonia, 26, aka Ace, and Gurditta Singh, also 26, were cleared of the offence.

Riad, 23, known as Emz, and Mahamud Ismail, 26, aka Skinny and Major, were found guilty of perverting the course of justice.

Another defendant, serving prisoner Mohammed Shakeel, 29, was cleared of that charge.

Members of Mr Subhani’s family wept in court as the jury returned verdicts after nearly 40 hours of deliberations.

Following the verdict, the victim’s sister, Iqra Subhani, described those involved in her brother’s death as “monsters”.

She told the PA news agency: “Before Shah passed away we were a very happy family. We had everything. A life full of happiness. After losing Shah it is a different world that we’re in. Nothing’s the same. You just don’t know how to get by.

“It’s been a very difficult, tormenting time for all of us, especially my parents, to see the final moments of Shah’s life and to hear about what these monsters done to my brother. To know of the last things that happened to him when he died, and after he died, it gives you nightmares.

“We’ve waited for years but, now that we know the truth, it’s horrifying, truly heart-breaking.

They're like monsters because I don't think any normal person could kill someone that they know and then come to their house and act like nothing's happened

Iqra Subhani, sister of murder victim Mohammed Shah Subhani

“Some of the boys that were involved in Shah’s murder grew up with us, they were like our family, they came to our house every day, ate on the same plate as us.

“To see such treachery and betrayal – to kill my brother and then to come to my house the same night saying that you’re helping us find him – you can only imagine how heartless these people are.

“They’re not even humans. They’re like monsters because I don’t think any normal person could kill someone that they know and then come to their house and act like nothing’s happened. You have to be a monster to do something like that.”

She described her brother as “very loving” and “family orientated” and said he had “filled our lives with joy”.

On the guilty verdicts, she said: “My brother waited a very long time for this justice. I feel like somewhere his soul will find peace. It will never bring Shah back to us but it will give us that peace that these people who have done this horrible, horrible, horrible crime are brought to justice.”

Metropolitan Police Detective Chief Inspector Vicky Tunstall said it had been an “exceptionally difficult” and unusual, once-in-a-career case.

She said: “This was a missing persons investigation for three weeks and then it was passed to ourselves in the homicide command to undertake as a murder investigation.

“We investigated it and quite early on we had a very good idea of who the suspects were. Some early arrests were made. We didn’t have quite enough evidence to secure charges and prosecute through a trial.

“Our breakthrough came about six months after Shah had gone missing when a witness came forward – somebody that had actually been present at his burial and was able to provide us with the key linking evidence.

We've all been forever in this person's debt for having the courage to come forward, admit responsibility and their involvement in the offence but ultimately come to court and give evidence against the others

Detective Chief Inspector Vicky Tunstall, Metropolitan Police

“That meant that we had the ability and opportunity to locate Shah and the comfort that then brought to his family. But also evidentially it brought us into the area where we could now bring charges, ultimately against these defendants.”

She paid tribute to the anonymous witness, saying: “We’ve all been forever in this person’s debt for having the courage to come forward, admit responsibility and their involvement in the offence but ultimately come to court and give evidence against the others.”

She said the defendants’ behaviour as “despicable” and an “ultimate betrayal”.

Ms Subhani added: “It’s been a very long and difficult journey for me and my family and we’d like to thank Vicky and all her team and every single officer that helped recover my brother’s remains and everyone that helped in playing a part in getting Shah the justice that he deserves.

“And I want to thank the witness that came forward and we are very thankful to you, may God bless you.”

The defendants were remanded into custody to be sentenced on a later date.

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