Alleged mastermind of robbery which saw police officer Sharon Beshenivsky die faces murder charge

Tuesday 13 February 2024

The mastermind of an armed robbery which saw a police officer killed and another seriously injured evaded capture for almost 20 years before being extradited from Pakistan, prosecutors have told a jury.

Police constable Sharon Beshenivsky was killed on November 18 2005 as she and her colleague Pc Teresa Milburn responded to a report of a robbery at Universal Express travel agents in Morley Street, Bradford, West Yorkshire.

Prosecutor Robert Smith KC said the two officers were shot at almost point blank range by one of three men who had just committed the robbery, with the shooter “firing indiscriminately” as he ran away from the scene before getting into a nearby car.

Jurors heard that in total, seven men were involved in committing the robbery, all of whom have since been convicted with the exception of Piran Ditta Khan.

Police constable Sharon Beshenivsky was killed on November 18 2005 as she and her colleague Pc Teresa Milburn responded to a report of a robbery.

Khan, 75, who prosecutors say planned the robbery, flew to Pakistan three months after Pc Beshenivsky’s death and remained at liberty there until he was arrested and detained by Pakistani authorities in January 2020.

Mr Smith said he arrived in the UK last April after an extradition request from the British Government, and is now on trial charged with murder, two counts of possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life and two counts of possession of a prohibited weapon.

The prosecutor told jurors that although Khan was not one of the three men who carried out the robbery, and did not shoot Pc Beshenivsky, he “was responsible for organising this robbery in the knowledge that loaded firearms were to be carried”.

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Jurors heard that during the robbery, Khan “did not leave the safety” of a Mercedes SLK which was being used as a lookout car.

“The part he played was such that the prosecution contend he is also guilty of the murder of Sharon Beshenivsky,” Mr Smith said.

Leeds Crown Court heard that as well as being a travel agents, Universal Express provided a service for people living and working in the UK to transfer money to the bank accounts of relatives in Pakistan.

Mr Smith said Khan, who lived in Ilford, north London, had used this service before and was “the only one amongst the group that knew the location of the business and the interior of the premises in question”.

The court also heard he would have been aware that large amounts of cash were kept on the premises during the day.

Jurors heard that the seven men had assembled at a house in Leeds on the morning of the robbery, and a witness overheard one of them asking Khan how much money they could expect to get.

The witness heard Khan saying a minimum of £50,000 and a maximum of £100,000, Mr Smith said.

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

Khan denies the charges and the trial continues.