By: Chandrashekar Bhat
A Derby man who fled to Pakistan after killing a business owner in Birmingham in a botched robbery has been sentenced to life imprisonment after being extradited to the UK to face justice.
In February 2016, Tahir Zarif, and three other members of his gang raided the Direct Source 3 warehouse on Rea Street in the Digbeth area where the offenders held the staff hostage at gunpoint. Zarif told the business owner, Akhtar Javeed, to part with the company’s takings and shot him in the leg in a violent warning to open the safe.
But Javeed, who was shot twice more from point-blank range when he was trying to escape, collapsed and died. The robbers fled the scene.
Zarif escaped to Pakistan five days after the incident and remained on the run in the south Asian country for two years.
Detectives investigated the case with the help of CCTV footage and mobile phone data.
Birmingham Crown Court heard how Sander van Aalten, a disgruntled former employee at Direct Source 3, drew a sketch of the warehouse to help the gang carry out the robbery attempt.
While Zarif was evading justice, the other offenders were jailed. Suraj Misty, 26, convicted of manslaughter, was sentenced to 23 years of imprisonment. Lamar Wali was jailed for seven years and van Aalten for six years and eight months.
West Midland Police worked with the National Crime Agency, the UK’s High Commission in Pakistan and the Pakistani authorities to secure Zarif’s arrest. He was eventually detained in Mirpur in January 2018 and extradited to the UK in February 2020.
During his trial at Coventry Crown Court last month, he claimed he had accidentally shot Javeed in a struggle.
On Thursday, Zarif, now 32, was handed down life imprisonment with a minimum of 30 years in jail. He was also sentenced to 18 years in jail for conspiracy to rob and given two seven-year jail terms for firearms offences. All his jail terms will run concurrently.
Javeed’s son spoke to Zarif directly and called him a “coward” who had “cruelly taken away my dad”.
Detective Inspector Ranj Sangha said the police refused to rest until Zarif was brought to justice although other members of his gang were jailed.
Sangha said the investigators worked closely with their partners in Britain and Pakistan to bring the offender back to the UK.