Birmingham & Black Country

Man convicted of taxi driver Mohammed Arshad's murder

A man convicted of the murder of a taxi driver who was stabbed in the head in a country lane has been jailed for life.

Andrew Bayliss, from Birmingham, denied killing Mohammed Arshad, 36, in Wast Hills Lane, Kings Norton, near the Worcestershire border, in July 2009.

He said he had been in the cab but did not kill Mr Arshad, the court heard.

The 29-year-old, who had debts of about £20,000, hit on a plan to relieve the financial pressure by robbing a taxi driver, Judge Alistair McCreath said.

Bayliss, who claimed a childhood friend he met in a park was responsible for the killing, must serve at least 30 years in jail.

Mr Arshad, a father-of-three from Birmingham, was left to die in a ditch beside Wast Hills Lane while his car was discovered abandoned about a mile from where he was found.

'Swimming in guilt'

Jurors at Worcester Crown Court took about four hours to unanimously convict Bayliss, of Ratcliffe Avenue, Kings Norton.

Image caption Mohammed Arshad was stabbed in the head (pic: West Mercia Police)

They heard the warehouse worker had written in a journal that he was "swimming in guilt" in the months after killing Mr Arshad and he deserved to be caught.

The journal was found under his mattress when he was arrested in November 2009.

He wrote that he "would rather die than spend life in prison" and added: "I have wasted my life and destroyed others. I don't deserve anyone to be at my funeral."

Bayliss had claimed that another man, Craig Thomas, had stabbed Mr Arshad. But the jury rejected his claim.

The prosecution argued Mr Thomas did not exist, as CCTV pictures only showed one man entering the taxi that night and the potential accomplice had not been mentioned by Bayliss until seven months after his arrest.

Grew a beard

The jury was shown CCTV images and forensic evidence, including Bayliss's bloody palm-prints found in Mr Arshad's taxi.

In security camera images Bayliss was seen making his way home on a bus 15 minutes after stabbing the taxi driver.

Mr Arshad, whose wife was expecting their fourth child, died in hospital a day after suffering 14 separate knife wounds.

Bayliss went to France and photographs show how he cut his hair and grew a beard to evade arrest.

Image caption Bayliss was seen on a bus 15 minutes after stabbing the taxi driver

The judge said: "This was an attack of considerable intensity - brutal and savage."

He told the defendant: "In July of 2009 you were in desperate financial trouble - you were in substantial debt, living beyond your means in part because of your drug abuse and in part because of other extravagances in your life.

"You and, I am satisfied, you alone hit on a plan to relieve the financial pressure on you by robbing a taxi driver."

In a statement released by police, Mr Arshad's family said: "Arshad was a kind, genuine and hardworking man.

"We still have many unanswered questions as to why Arshad was killed in this brutal way and hope that his murderer never gets an opportunity to destroy another family in the way that he has destroyed ours."

Det Supt Sheila Thornes, of West Mercia Police, said it had been a "brutal and senseless murder" and money and other property had been left behind in Mr Arshad's taxi.

She said: "It appears that Bayliss gained nothing from such a brutal attack."

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