Three jailed for Johnny Assani road-rage attack - now police hunt for EIGHT more killers
POLICE say they are hunting up to eight more men for the road-rage killing of Derby father Johnny Assani.
Detective Inspector Lisa MacIntyre, who led the inquiry into Mr Assani's death, was speaking following the conviction of a third brother in the case.
Mohammed Tariq, 26, was yesterday found guilty by a jury of manslaughter and jailed for seven years.
His brothers, Mohammed Shahid, 34, and Mohammed Rafiq, known as Tahir, 33, were jailed in March for the same offence. Their sentences of six-and-a-half years and eight years, respectively, had not previously been reported because of a legal order which has now been lifted.
Motorist Mr Assani, 43, was kicked and punched unconscious by a group of men following a dispute over a driving incident in Derby. He died the following day.
Det Insp MacIntyre said: "We believe a group of up to 11 people are responsible for assaulting him. So there are still those out there who haven't been identified.
"We would now appeal to the community to come forward with information. There are clearly people out there who have been frightened to come forward but we hope the convictions will now encourage them to do so."
How senseless confrontation about 'road rage' incident led to tragedy
A SENSELESS argument about one motorist overtaking the other ended with the shocking death of young fathJohnny Assani.
Mr Assani was punched to the ground and repeatedly kicked in front of his 16-year-old son, Mukhaila.
Mr Assani, of Pear Tree, died the following day as a result of his injuries.
Three brothers, Mohammed Shahid, Mohammed Rafiq and Mohammed Tariq, have now been convicted of manslaughter. The case against a fourth brother, Mohammed Zahid, 32, of Brunswick Street, Derby, was dropped midway through a trial.
Tariq, who went into hiding after the incident, was not arrested until the day before his brothers' murder trial was due to begin on February 9. The jury acquitted Shahid and Rafiq of murder.
Tariq was found in Bradford where he had been "spirited away" after fleeing to Birmingham.
Two women and a man, who helped Tariq evade capture, have admitted doing acts intended to pervert the course of public justice.
Yesterday, following Tariq's conviction, Detective Superintendent Andy Stokes said: "This case just shows how something that starts off as a minor dispute can escalate into something as tragic as this.
"We are really pleased about the result for the Assani family, although there are still people out there who were there and involved in the assault and, if any further evidence comes in relation to other offenders, we will investigate.
"It's unfortunate that Mukhaila had to give evidence in two trials but we are hoping the result and the closure he can get out of it will help him and the Assani family move forward.
"We want to thank those in the community that did come forward with information and hope the community will be reassured that we do thorough investigations. And even when the offenders are not found initially, we will continue to pursue them until they are arrested."
The incident began in Upper Dale Road when Mr Assani, who was driving a silver Golf, overtook Mohammed Shahid, who was in a white BMW.
Mukhaila told Nottingham Crown Court that, as his father was about to go straight across the Cavendish Island, Mr Assani noticed the man in the car behind, which was turning left, swear at him, so he went all the way round and followed the vehicle.
Shahid stopped his car outside his home in Walbrook Road. Mr Assani, of Harrington Street, Pear Tree, pulled in front of him, got out of his vehicle and walked over to Shahid, who was still sitting in his car.
The two men then started shouting at each other.
In court, prosecutor Peter Joyce QC said that Shahid then shouted towards his house. "It was as if he was summoning assistance, summoning the troops," said Mr Joyce.
He said: "A man came out and jogged over to Johnny Assani and punched him on the right side of his head.
"Johnny Assani was knocked to the ground after that. With him on the ground, both Shahid and the man who had punched him set about him – repeatedly punching him, kicking him in his head and body and the only thing Johnny Assani appeared able to do was attempt to shield himself from the blows as he tried to get back up."
Mr Joyce said a number of other men – between seven and nine – joined in kicking and punching Mr Assani as he lay on the ground.
"We cannot say who they all were but it's our case that the brothers were involved and are jointly responsible for his death," said Mr Joyce.
During the assault Mukhaila got out of the car.
He told the jury: "I ran up to them and tried to push two or three away from them. They turned around and started attacking me as well. They punched me to my head."
He said he was hit about 10 times and suffered a cut lip, bruising to his neck and a swollen head. Mukhaila said that when the men left, he saw his dad lying with his head on the pavement and the rest of his body on the road – unconscious, but breathing, with blood coming from his mouth.
Mukhaila said he heard one of the men, as he walked away, say: "You don't mess with the Khans. We know who you are. We know where you live. You're a dead man."
The brothers were known locally as the Khans.
This was at about 3.15pm on Sunday, August 14, last year. People in the area came to help Mr Assani and he was taken to Royal Derby Hospital. He was later transferred to the Queen's Medical Centre, in Nottingham, but died at 10.10pm the next day.
Roohan Ali, who was found guilty of assisting an offender, was jailed for three years and six months. Ali had arranged for Shahid to go to Birmingham shortly after the attack and for a car to be washed and valeted, because of concern that it had blood on it.
Shahid, Rafiq and Zahid were arrested at one of the family's homes in Brunswick Street, Derby, on August 16. Tariq was not found by police until five-and-a-half months later.
The seven defendants arrested by police and convicted so far in case
Mohammed Shahid, 34, Walbrook Road, Derby
Admitted manslaughter but denied murder.
Acquitted of murder but found guilty of manslaughter by the jury.
Jailed for six-and-a-half years.
Married to Sajida Rafiq and have children together.
Mitigation – diagnosed with "aggressive form of bladder cancer" in 2009 and was told he had a recurrence shortly before the attack.
2002 – Fined for perverting the course of justice.
April 2008 – Possession of an offensive weapon, a knife, in public. Given a conditional discharge for two years.
Mohammed Rafiq, known as Tahir, 33, Walbrook Road, Derby
Acquitted by the jury of murder but convicted of manslaughter.
Jailed for eight years.
Mitigation – had gone outside to help his brother who had "significant health problems". His barrister, Peter Rouch, said: "The evidence does not pinpoint exactly what his direct involvement was in the assault of Johnny Assani."
Oct 1998 – Fined for having an offensive weapon in public, an iron bar.
Jan 1999 – Given a community order for common assault, criminal damage and assaulting a police officer.
Oct 1999 – Fined for obstructing a police officer and driving offences.
Feb 2001 – Fined for disorderly behaviour.
Oct 2002 – Given a community order for threatening behaviour.
Nov 2004 – Jailed for one year for affray.
April 2005 – Fined for racially aggravated threatening behaviour and resisting police.
Mohammed Tariq, 26, Walbrook Road, Derby
Found guilty by a jury of manslaughter and jailed for seven years.
Mitigation – Peter Birkett QC said: "The prosecution's case has always been that Tariq was one of those summoned to the scene.
"As the youngest brother, he was almost under some pressure to go along and most certainly he should be treated as a follower and not a leader."
November 2010 – Jailed for 15 months for possessing cannabis with intent to supply to another.
Roohan Ali, 25, Stonehill Road, Derby
Found guilty by a jury of assisting an offender. He helped Shahid get to Birmingham after the attack and arranged for a car to be washed and valeted, because of concern that it had blood on it.
He was jailed for three years, six months.
Married to a woman who lives in Pakistan.
Mitigation – Mohammed Khan, for Ali, said he had a GVQ in business studies. He said: "He comes from a respectable family which has settled in Derby.
"He is very close to his mother. Whenever she needs him, he takes her to the doctor's surgery. What has happened to him has been very distressing. He was very foolish."
The remaining defendants in the case will be sentenced on December 17. These are:
Gemma Rostron, 28, Almond Street, Derby
Admitted doing an act intended to pervert the course of public justice. Rostron, who was Tariq's girlfriend at the time, went to see him while he was hiding in Birmingham and Bradford.
She also brought him food and allowed him to use her mobile phone, knowing the police were seeking him in connection with the death of Johnny Assani.
Sajida Rafiq, 34, Bishop Lonsdale Way, Mickleover (wife of Shahid)
Admitted doing an act intended to pervert the course of public justice.
She helped transport Tariq and arrange accommodation for him in Bradford, knowing the police were seeking him in connection with the death of Johnny Assani.
Kamran Rajpoot, 27, Grange Avenue, Sunny Hill
Pleaded guilty to doing an act intended to pervert the course of public justice.
Rajpoot visited Tariq when he was in hiding and helped transport him to Bradford and arrange accommodation, knowing the police were seeking him in connection with the death of Johnny Assani.
Rostron, Rafiq and Rajpoot will be sentenced following the preparation of reports by the probation service.