Private hire driver, Tanveer Ahmed sentenced to life in prison with a minimum term of 27 years for the murder of a Glasgow shopkeeper, Asad Shah
An Uber driver, Tanveer Ahmed, 32, has been sentenced to life in prison for the ‘barbaric, premeditated and wholly unjustified killing’ of Asad Shah, 40, a shopkeeper in Shawlands, Glasgow.
Tanveer Ahmed, travelled 200 miles earlier this year from Bradford, West Yorkshire to Glasgow to confront Mr Asad Shah, who belonged to the Ahnadi sect of Islam, at his store in the city’s Shawlands area before pulling out a knife and stabbing him 30 times on March 24.
The Ahmadi sect of Islam beliefs differ from the majority of Muslims. Mr Shah had posted videos on Facebook and YouTube which could be interpreted as him claiming that he was a Prophet. En route to Glasgow Ahmed had watched online footage of Mr Shah and made the comment ‘something needs to be done; it needs to be nipped in the bud’.
CCTV footage of Mr Shah’s murder shows Ahmed arriving at the shop at around 9pm, where Mr Shah was working with assistant Stephen McFadyen. His brother Athar, a personal assistant, was working in the basement below.
Advocate deputy Iain McSporran told the court ‘the pair conversed ‘intensely’ in Urdu. His demeanour and gestures are at least consistent with his account that he was attempting to persuade the shopkeeper to his point of view,’ he said.
‘From what we can see of Mr Shah, he is responding but not apparently agreeing with the accused. The accused, having apparently not received the response he was looking for, reaches into the robes he is wearing and removes a knife with which he attacks Asad Shah, moving behind the counter to do so.’
Close Circuit Television footage showed the commencement of the attack on Mr Shah, showing an appalling display of merciless violence. Ahmed repeatedly stabbed Mr Shah and when his shop assistant bravely disarmed him, Ahmed continued in his determination to end his life, ignoring pleas of Mr Shah’s brother to stop the attack.
Stephen McFadyen, who was working nearby in the shop, also approached and made valiant attempts to assist but the incident, was fast moving and he is unable to prevent the attack.
The attack suddenly ceased and Ahmed walked calmly to a nearby bus shelter where he sat, head bowed as if in prayer. A passing GP and nurse attempted to help Mr Shah, who was taken to hospital but he died shortly before 10pm – almost every bone in his face was shattered.
When police found Ahmed in the nearby bus shelter, he said: ‘I respect what you do and I have nothing against you and so I am not going to hurt you. I have broken the law and appreciate how you are treating me.’
The pathologist, who carried out the post mortem on Mr Shah, stated the injuries caused to Mr Shah from the force of repeated blows to the head and neck were injuries more commonly seen on victims of road accidents.
When Ahmed was 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.
Ahmed appeared at the High Court in Glasgow last month where he pleaded guilty to murdering Mr Shah outside his newsagent. Today, 9 August 2016, Ahmed returned to the dock to learn his fate.
In the High Court in Glasgow, Judge Lady Rae, on sentencing, said: “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.
“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”
It was claimed on Ahmed’s behalf by the Dean of Faculty that other undisclosed blasphemous words were used by Mr Shah which provoked the attack. However, there was no evidence to substantiate these claims and Tanver refused the opportunity to provide that evidence in a proof in mitigation.
Defence counsel Gordon Jackson QC said the attack was ‘not motivated by animosity against a particular community’, or because Mr Shah wrote a message on social media for his Christian friends.
He added that Ahmed took a knife with him because he wasn’t sure of the reaction he would get but not intended to use it, until the situation was ‘enflamed’.
Mr Jackson said: ‘He wished reason, he wished to talk, he wished to get some acknowledgement from Mr Shah as to what he was saying, some acknowledgement of the wrongfulness as far as he was concerned.’
He said: ‘Things were said, which to his mind was so disrespectful, that he just lost it. The irony is he won’t repeat them he simply will not repeat what was said even to me.’
Lady Rae said: “Thereafter you undertook what was in effect an execution when Mr Shah was unwilling to change his views. After you achieved your objective, you walked away calmly and awaited the arrival of the police.”
“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”, said Lady Rae.
Continuing, Lady Rae said: “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.”
It was further noted that Ahmed expressed no remorse whatsoever for his appalling crime and that attitude continues to this date, all as evidenced by the contents of the criminal justice social work report.
In fact, from early pronouncements, after Ahmed’s first appearance in court, it is clear that he was proud of what he did, failing to see what he did was wrong. Furthermore, given the similar circumstances in the future Ahmed admitted he would do it again.
Ahmed who was supported by “glowing references and character witness statements”, including touching letters from his children, Ahmed continued to show no remorse
Lady Rae concluded her sentencing, saying: “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.”
Chief Superintendent Brian McInulty, Local Policing Commander for Greater Glasgow Division, on sentencing said: “Our thoughts continue to be with the family of Asad Shah, whose presence in the community is very much missed by everyone who knew him.
“I hope that the sentencing today will reassure the immediate community in Glasgow’s south-side as well as communities all across Scotland that acts of violence such as this are utterly unacceptable and cannot be justified. Glasgow is a strong, united, multi-faith community that has immense pride in its diversity. In fact, our communities celebrate this diversity, with people from all backgrounds, faiths and culture living, working and socialising together.
“Religious intolerance in any form is simply not tolerated in our society and Police Scotland will work in partnership with our communities to eradicate such behaviour, to ensure that no individual, group or community feels isolated, marginalised or threatened. Officers will continue to engage with the community to provide reassurance.”
Rafiq Hayat, National President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association UK, said: ‘In Glasgow, as in many parts of the world, we have witnessed the evil of a warped and poisonous ideology of hate, that is at war with the whole of humanity.
‘Our thoughts and prayers are with Mr Shah and his family who have suffered immensely as a result of this brutal killing. No one should suffer or be murdered, least of all for their faith.
‘But out of this dark episode we also saw the spirit of humanity, as the city came together in a show of solidarity to show their support for Mr Shah and to take a united stand against extremism.
‘Mr Shah’s only crime was to spread a message of love and compassion and the whole city paid tribute to him for his kindness and care.
‘No matter how brutal the crime and how evil the ideology, the people of Glasgow and the UK have made clear that we will not let hate prevail.
‘We welcome the fact that justice has been served and our community will continue to work with others in this proud and great city to build a legacy of love.’
The father-of-three was jailed for life, with a minimum of 27 years at the High Court in Glasgow. As Ahmed was led away, he raised a clenched fist and shouted loudly: ‘Praise for the Prophet Muhammad, there is only one Prophet.’
Some of the 40 supporters who attended today’s sentencing responded by raising their arms and repeating the phrase as he was taken out of the dock. The sentence was backdated to 28 March 2016 when Ahmed was first remanded in custody.