England

Mohammed Afsar shooting: Men's conspiracy to murder convictions quashed

Five men each jailed for more than 20 years over the shooting of a restaurant owner have had their convictions for conspiracy to murder quashed.

Mohammed Afsar was shot in the leg in Normacot, Stoke-on-Trent, in 2010.

"Sensitive" information from a separate case led to the appeal on Tuesday on the basis the men's convictions were unsafe.

Their convictions have been changed to conspiracy to commit grievous bodily harm.

The men, all from Birmingham, remain in custody to be sentenced at the same court at a later date.

The group were convicted in December 2011 following an investigation by Staffordshire Police and a five-week trial at Stafford Crown Court.

Omran Rashid, 41, of Heather Road, Small Heath, Wassab Khan, 39, of Churchill Road, Small Heath, and Abdul Maroof, 36, of Herrick Road, Washwood Heath, were originally jailed for 24 years each.

Abdul Jabbar, 26, of Bracebridge Road, Moseley, and Faisal Saraj, 27, of Kelynmead Road, Stechford, were sentenced to 20 years' detention in a young offender institution.

The men unsuccessfully appealed against their convictions in June 2013.

But the Criminal Cases Review Commission has said it was approached in January this year by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) with information from another case "which had a possible bearing on the safety of the convictions".

The "sensitive" material was potentially relevant as to whether the men intended to commit grievous bodily harm rather than to murder, the review said.

The information or the circumstances of its discovery, can not safely be made public or disclosed to the defence, the body said.

Commenting after the hearing, Staffordshire Police said: "We respect the Court of Appeal's decision that has been made in this case."

A CPS spokesperson said it made the referral to the review commission as soon as it identified the significance of the material on the original convictions.

"The material was not in the possession of the prosecution at the time of the original convictions in 2011.

"We have been working with the police to establish what lessons can be learned from this case."

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