PC Sharon Beshenivsky: Murder accused had 'pivotal role', court told

The alleged ringleader of a gang that shot dead a police officer during a robbery may as well have "pulled the trigger himself", a jury has been told.

The trial of Piran Ditta Khan, 75, has heard he acted as a lookout during the robbery at a Bradford travel agents in which PC Sharon Beshenivsky was killed.

But prosecutors told the jury at Leeds Crown Court on Friday he still played a "pivotal" role in her death in 2005.

Mr Khan has admitted robbery but denies murder and four firearms offences.

PC Beshenivsky, 38, and her colleague PC Teresa Milburn were shot as they responded to the raid at Universal Express travel agents on 18 November 2005.

The other men involved have since been convicted of offences including murder, manslaughter, robbery and possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life.

Mr Khan travelled to Pakistan two months after the robbery and evaded arrest until he was detained by Pakistani authorities in 2020 and extradited to the UK last year.

'Gave order'

In his closing speech to jurors on Friday, prosecutor Robert Smith KC said the three men who went into Universal Express armed with guns and a knife were ruthless, dangerous, violent and had "no regard for human life".

He said it would have been obvious to Mr Khan "what sort of men these were and what they were capable of".

Mr Khan had previously said during his trial that the owner of Universal Express owed him £12,000 and that debt collector Hassan Razzaq offered to help him "get his money back" after the pair met through a business associate.

Mr Smith said: "It is obvious the defendant was not only aware these three men were going to commit robbery at Universal Express, but that he planned it.

"He provided the information to the other six men about how it should be committed and, on the way past the premises for the last time that afternoon, he gave the order for it to be carried out."

Mr Khan and the other robbers intended to "at least inflict serious bodily harm to anyone who stood in their way", the prosecutor said.

He was therefore guilty of murder "as surely as if he pulled the trigger on that pistol himself", Mr Smith told the court.

Mr Khan had portrayed himself as an "unfortunate victim of circumstances with no knowledge that firearms were being carried".

But Mr Smith added that Mr Khan's evidence had been "exposed over the last few days as thoroughly dishonest".

Mr Khan admitted robbery at a hearing last year.

The trial continues.

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