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Alleged robbery mastermind was ‘eating sandwiches’ when officers were shot, court hears

The alleged mastermind of an armed robbery was eating sandwiches in a lookout car when a police officer was fatally shot and another injured, a court has heard.

Unarmed police constables Sharon Beshenivsky and Teresa Milburn were shot at point-blank range in November 2005.

They were responding to a raid at Universal Express travel agents in Bradford, West Yorkshire.

PC Beshenivsky, 38, died from her injuries while PC Milburn was shot in the chest but survived.

Leeds Crown Court has heard a total of seven men were involved in carrying out the raid, with alleged ringleader Piran Ditta Khan the last to face trial almost two decades on.

Court artist drawing by Elizabeth Cook of Piran Ditta Khan appearing at Leeds Crown Court charged with the 2005 murder of Police Constable Sharon Beshenivsky in Bradford. Picture date: Monday February 12, 2024.
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Elizabeth Cook/PA Wire
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© 2024 PA Media, All Rights Reserved
Image: An artist’s drawing of Piran Ditta Khan during an appearance at Leeds Crown Court. Pic: Elizabeth Cook/PA

On Wednesday, Khan, 75, said he was in a Mercedes SLK with one of his fellow robbers, Hassan Razzaq, while the raid was being carried out.

He told jurors Razzaq, who he met through a business acquaintance, had offered to help him get back £12,000 he was owed by Mohammad Yousaf, the owner of Universal Express.

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Khan says he thought the men Razzaq sent to get the money would “intimidate” the staff there but denied any knowledge of a robbery or the use of guns.

The defendant said he and Razzaq were eating sandwiches just before driving away from the scene in the wake of the robbery.

“We were eating sandwiches. He said ‘uncle, quickly shut the door’. I shut the door and he drove off,” he said.

Teresa Milburn
Image: PC Teresa Milburn. Pic: West Yorkshire Police/Reuters

Khan said he did not know two officers had been shot until the group got back to a house in Leeds.

Prosecutor Robert Smith KC asked Khan about a call made from one of the other robbers to Razzaq just after 3.30pm – when Razzaq and Khan were in the car together and the two officers were “lying on the pavement outside Universal Express”.

Khan said he did not hear anything that was said in the call and was not paying attention.

The defendant denied organising the events that day, saying: “It wasn’t my planning. It must be their planning – all I knew was I needed my money and they were responsible to get that for me.”

Jurors heard how PC Beshenivsky and PC Milburn were shot by one of three men who had just carried out the robbery, with the gunman then firing indiscriminately as they fled the scene.

A memorial for WPC Sharon Beshenivsky following its unveiling during a memorial service in Bradford.
Image: A memorial to Sharon Beshenivsky in Bradford. Pic: PA

Prosecutors say although Khan did not leave the lookout car during the raid, he is guilty of PC Beshenivsky’s murder because of his “pivotal” role in planning the robbery knowing that loaded weapons were to be used.

They claim Khan was the only one of the group who was familiar with Universal Express after using the business to send money to family in Pakistan.

Khan denies murder, two counts of possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life and two counts of possession of a prohibited weapon. He has pleaded guilty to robbery.

The trial continues.

Sky News Source