HMA v Tanveer Ahmed

At the High Court in Glasgow Lady Rae sentenced Tanveer Ahmed to life imprisonment with a punishment part of 27 years after he pled guilty to the murder of Assad Shah,

On sentencing Lady Rae made the following statement in court:

"It is clear from the agreed facts presented to me that this was a barbaric, premeditated and wholly unjustified killing of a much loved man who was a pillar of the local community. He is described as a peaceful and peace-loving family man who went out of his way to show respect for those of any faith.

The Close Circuit Television footage of the commencement of your attack on your victim was an appalling display of merciless violence. You repeatedly stabbed Mr Shah and when his shop assistant bravely disarmed you, you did not desist but, determined to end his life, you continued the assault by repeatedly and forcefully punching, kicking and stamping on your victim's head and neck.

You ignored the pleas of Mr Shah's brother to stop the attack. Such was the force of your repeated blows that some of the head and neck injuries found at the post mortem were described as being more commonly seen in victims of road accidents.

Your determination to kill Mr Shah was obvious - and what is so chilling about this attack is that what you did was calculated and deliberate. After you had achieved your objective, you walked away calmly and awaited the arrival of the police.

Your stated motive as disclosed in the agreed narrative was that you considered that Mr Shah had offended your religious beliefs and had thus hurt your feelings. Although you had never previously met the deceased, you decided that you had a duty to kill him. You saw fit to arm yourself with a lethal weapon; to travel from a different jurisdiction with a view to confronting the deceased about his beliefs; and thereafter to undertake what was in effect an execution when he was unwilling to change his views.

It is submitted on your behalf by the Dean of Faculty that other undisclosed blasphemous words were used by Mr Shah which provoked your attack. There is absolutely no evidence to substantiate this statement and you have refused the opportunity to provide that evidence in a proof in mitigation. Indeed I shall now quote two passages from the agreed narrative which in my view do not support that position.

"The accused's consistent and repeated account as to his motivation for murdering Asad Shah was that Shah claimed to be a Prophet, which so offended his feelings and his Faith that he had to kill him. The murder was accordingly motivated by the accused's religious belief."

"When interviewed under caution and explained that he had acted alone and that his actions were motivated by Asad Shah's decision to "disrespect the Koran, the Prophet Mohammed, Allah and Faith". He said that he had warned Asad Shah that he was there to kill him, had asked him to stop claiming to be a prophet but that he had insisted he was."

Let me be clear, no one in any civilised country including Scotland has the right to take the life of another, whatever offence that individual perceives that he or she has suffered. It is vitally important in modern society that respect and tolerance for others of every race, creed, colour, ethnic origin or religious belief is maintained and protected by the law of the land.

This was a brutal, barbaric and horrific crime, resulting from intolerance and which led to the death of a wholly innocent man - who openly expressed beliefs which differed from yours - but - who also exercised an understanding and tolerance of others whose religious beliefs might be different from his own.

It is accepted by you in the agreed narrative that this was a religiously motivated crime, although it was not directed towards the Ahmadi community.

I note with considerable concern that you have expressed no remorse whatsoever for this appalling crime. That attitude continues to this date, all as evidenced by the contents of the criminal justice social work report.

Indeed - from your early pronouncements, after your first appearance in court, it is clear that you are proud of what you did and you do not consider what you did was wrong. What is particularly disturbing from some of your later comments to the social worker who prepared the court report is the fact that, if met with similar circumstances in the future, you would do the same again.

You seem oblivious to the fact that you have devastated the family of Mr Shah, leaving them bereft of a much loved son, husband and brother.

I am advised that you have never previously offended and you are said to be a man of previous good character. Having read all of the many references produced on your behalf, it is clear that you are a highly regarded member of your community who contributes greatly in the many different ways listed in those letters.

They are glowing references.

The touching letters from your children disclose the consequences which your actions will have on your own family. Despite that, you continue to show no remorse. You have deprived your family of any financial and meaningful emotional support for the foreseeable future. Let me be clear, your actions and your actions alone are responsible for the consequences to your family.

I shall have regard to the various factors put forward as mitigation but none of them can truly mitigate, to any great extent, the brutality of your actions; the premeditation and motive behind those actions; your lack of remorse and your pride in what you did.

For all of these reasons I intend to impose an exemplary sentence.

In respect of the murder charge, there is only one sentence which I can impose and that is life imprisonment.

I require to make an order setting what is called a punishment part, that is, the minimum period of time that you will serve in prison to satisfy the requirements of retribution and deterrence.

The effect of this will be that you will not be eligible for parole or release until the whole of the punishment part has expired. Thereafter it will be for the Parole Board and the Parole Board alone to consider whether you still present a risk to the public, or, whether you can be released on a life licence with appropriate conditions. If you are still considered a serious risk the public, after the punishment part has expired, you will not be released.

You have pleaded guilty at an early stage, as a result of which I am obliged to consider a discount to your sentence because of the utilitarian benefit occasioned by your plea.

While I accept there is some utilitarian benefit in your plea in that you have avoided a trial, it should be noted that, having regard to the revealing CCTV footage of your killing of Mr Shah and your pronouncements, admitting the murder, while effectively boasting of the righteousness of your actions, I take the view that any utilitarian benefit is limited. Accordingly I am only prepared to allow a discount of three years.

The sentence I am about to impose will be backdated to 28 March 2016 when you were first remanded in custody.

Accordingly I sentence you to life imprisonment. For all of the reasons given above, the punishment part I would have imposed would have been 30 years. I shall reduce that by three years thus the punishment part is 27 years".

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