HMA v Riasat Khan

At the High Court in Glasgow today (24 November 2017) Lord Beckett sentenced Riasat Khan to life imprisonment (punishment part 16 years) for a murder he committed in 1978. On sentencing Lord Beckett made the following statement in court:

“You have been found guilty of murdering Kazi Bashiruddin Ahmad. 

 “For murder, the punishment is fixed by law. You will be sentenced to life imprisonment.

 “I must fix the period of time which you will serve in custody before being considered for parole. In fixing this period, known as the punishment part, I must reflect the need to punish you for the crime of murder and to deter you and others from committing murder. In fixing the punishment part the law requires me to ignore any risk that you may pose to the public in the future.

 “This does not mean that you will serve just this period. It will be for the Parole Board to determine when it is safe for you to be released from prison. The question of parole cannot arise before the punishment period has passed.

 “I must also take account of the seriousness of the crime of murder of which you have been convicted and your record of previous convictions. In this case, I do not regard your previous convictions for crimes of dishonesty to be significant beyond noting that you appear to have been subject to a suspended sentence when you murdered Mr Ahmad. That sentence related to crimes of dishonesty and not violence.

 “In this case, you used a sharp, pointed knife, described as a filleting knife, to stab Mr Ahmad seven times on his neck and chest. You inflicted wounds which he could not have survived.

 “However, rather than seeking medical assistance for him, your own evidence was that you tied him up and left the scene. I infer that you locked the door of his room as you departed. You took his money, gambled away £900 and fled abroad.

 “You sought to blacken Mr Ahmad’s character in your evidence but I prefer the evidence of his colleagues from his restaurant who explained that he was kind and generous. He was well liked and respected by them.

 “As a result of your vicious assault, Mr Ahmad lost his life at the age of 41 and his family, whom he was supporting, lost him forever. You, on the other hand, remained at liberty for more than 37 years before you were arrested.

 “Justice was delayed but justice has not been denied. The excellent work done by police officers, forensic scientists and pathologists in 1978 stood the test of time and led to your conviction for murder in 2017.

 “Had you been arrested in 1978 you would no doubt have been convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment and you may well have been released by now.

 “Instead, your actions have allowed you to spend the best years of your adult life in freedom and I must take these considerations into account in weighing the significance of your now being 63 years old and facing sentence for a crime that you committed 39 years ago as a young man of 24.

 “What could be said in mitigation has been said on your behalf. I take account of your state of health and the absence of any relevant convictions. You are sentenced for the charge of which you were convicted after amendment and deletion.

 “I note what was said about your being sorry and take that into account, but I must view that against the background of the whole circumstances of this crime and what you did on its completion.

 “Having regard to the whole circumstances, the punishment part on the charge of murder will be one of 16 years, backdated to 1 November 2017 when you were remanded in custody. This does not mean that this is a sentence of 16 years.

 “You are sentenced to life imprisonment and you will serve at least 16 years before you can be considered for release on parole. It will be for the Parole Board to determine when you will ultimately be released and they will consider the safety of the public in reaching that decision.”