Gang jailed for plot to kill Longton restaurant owner lodge appeal
FIVE men jailed for a plot to kill a Stoke-on-Trent restaurant owner have won the first stage of an appeal against their convictions.
The five were last year found guilty of conspiring to murder Mohammed Afsar and jailed for a total of 112 years.
Mr Afsar, who owns the Saghir Express restaurant, in Longton, was shot in the leg outside his home in Normacot in July 2010.
A group of men pulled up in a black Mitsubishi Shogun and a shotgun was fired at point-blank range at Mr Afsar.
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The 65-year-old father-of-eight survived the attack, and police were able to use mobile phone evidence to link the five men to the shooting.
But they are now challenging their convictions at London’s Criminal Appeal Court, arguing there was not enough evidence to prove they intended to kill the victim.
Their lawyers told the court their convictions should be quashed and replaced with counts of conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm.
Lord Justice Moore-Bick granted permission to all five men for a full appeal hearing, to be held at a later date.
Mr Afsar, who believes the shooting was part of a long-standing vendetta against his family, has since move to an undisclosed address.
His son Saghir Mohammed said his father did not believe the men would succeed in overturning their convictions.
The 24-year-old said: “We believe that they are just appealing for the sake of appealing. They’re just rolling the dice and hoping for the best. We are confident that the appeal will not succeed.
“We’re happy with the investigation that was carried out by the police. Because all the defendants chose not to speak, the case against them was based on the facts gathered by the police.
“It has been a difficult year, but just when you think you’ve managed to put it all behind you it all comes back again.”
The convicted men, all from Birmingham, are: Omran Rashid, aged 35, who was jailed for 24 years; Wassab Khan, aged 28, who received 24 years; Abdul Jabbar, aged 20, who was given 20 years; Abdul Maroof, aged 30, who was jailed for 24 years; and Faisal Saraj, aged 21, who was given 20 years.
None of these five actually fired the shotgun, and police are still seeking a sixth man, Afsar Ali, who has fled the country.
A spokesman for Staffordshire Police said: “This remains a live investigation. We are still seeking a sixth man in connection with the incident.”