The Criminal Cases Review Commission has referred to the Court of Appeal the conspiracy to murder convictions of Wassab Khan, Faisal Saraj, Abdul Jabbar, Abdul Maroof and Omran Rashid.
The five men were convicted together at Stafford Crown Court in November 2011 for their parts in the shooting of Mohammed Afsar.
On 21st December Wassab Khan, Abdul Maroof and Omran Rashid were sentenced to 24 years’ imprisonment. The two younger men, Faisal Saraj and Abdul Jabbar, were sentenced to 20 years’ detention in a young offender institution.
Together they appealed against their convictions but in June 2013 the Court of Appeal dismissed their appeals.
No application to the CCRC was made, but in January 2018, the Crown Prosecution Service approached the Commission with information arising in a separate case which had a possible bearing on the safety of the convictions of Messrs Khan, Saraj, Jabbar, Maroof and Rashid.
The material, which is of a sensitive nature, is potentially relevant to the jury’s consideration of whether their intention had been to commit grievous bodily harm rather than to murder.
The CCRC has considered the material supplied to it by the CPS and concluded that this information raises a real possibility that the Court of Appeal would now quash the conspiracy to murder convictions.
The Court could choose to substitute the convictions for conspiracy to murder with convictions for conspiracy to commit Grievous Bodily Harm; this could have a significant impact on the sentences required to be served by each man.
The material on which the CCRC referral is based is of a sensitive nature. Neither it, nor the detailed circumstances of its discovery, can safely be made public or disclosed to the defence.
In light of this, the CCRC has included the sensitive material in a confidential annex which will be supplied to the Court of Appeal along with the Statement of Reasons in which the Commission sets out its analysis of the case and its reasons for referring it for appeal. The confidential annex will not be supplied to the appellants or their legal representatives. It will then be for the Court of Appeal to decide whether any further disclosure is possible.
This press release was issued by Justin Hawkins, Head of Communication, Criminal Cases Review Commission, on 0121 232 0906 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes for editors
- The Commission is an independent body set up under the Criminal Appeal Act 1995. It is responsible for independently reviewing suspected and alleged miscarriages of criminal justice in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It is based in Birmingham and is funded by the Ministry of Justice.
- There are currently 12 Commissioners who bring to the Commission considerable experience from a wide variety of backgrounds. Commissioners are appointed by the Queen on the recommendation of the Prime Minister in accordance with the Office for the Commissioner for Public Appointments’ Code of Practice.
- The Commission usually receives around 1,500 applications for reviews (convictions and/or sentences) each year. Typically, around 3.5%, or one in 29, of all applications are referred to the appeal courts.
- The Commission considers whether, as a result of new evidence or argument, there is a real possibility that the conviction would not be upheld were a reference to be made. New evidence or argument is argument or evidence which has not been raised during the trial or on appeal. Applicants should usually have appealed first. A case can be referred in the absence of new evidence or argument or an earlier appeal only if there are “exceptional circumstances”.
- If a case is referred, it is then for the appeal court to decide whether the conviction is unsafe or the sentence unfair.
- More details about the role and work of the Criminal Cases Review Commission can be found at www.ccrc.gov.uk The Commission can be found on Twitter using @ccrcupdate and on Facebook.