Sharon Beshenivsky: Piran Ditta Khan guilty of murdering police officer in 2005

Sharon Beshenivsky: Piran Ditta Khan guilty of murdering police officer in 2005

The mastermind of an armed robbery in which PC Sharon Beshenivsky was shot dead nearly 20 years ago has been found guilty of her murder.

Prosecutors said Piran Ditta Khan, 75, planned the raid at Universal Express travel agent in Morley Street, Bradford, West Yorkshire on 18 November 2005.

PC Beshenivsky, 38, and her colleague PC Teresa Milburn, then 37, were both unarmed when they responded to the robbery and were shot at point-blank range.

PC Beshenivsky, who had only been a West Yorkshire Police officer for nine months, died from her injuries, while PC Milburn, who was also shot in the chest, survived.

Khan was convicted of murder by a majority of 10-1 after 11 jurors deliberated for almost 19 hours over four days.

Piran Ditta Khan. Pic: Met Police

He was also found guilty of two counts of possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life, and was unanimously convicted of two counts of possession of a prohibited weapon.

Khan has previously pleaded guilty to robbery.

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The judge, Mr Justice Hilliard, thanked the jury for its role in the case of a police officer who “set off for work that morning and never came home, all for doing her job to try and keep us all safe”.

“Even after so many years it hardly bears thinking about,” he said.

“The only sentence for murder is imprisonment for life, I have to set the minimum term.”

Khan, who showed no visible emotion when the verdicts were given, will be sentenced at a later date.

Pakistani police officers escort to Piran Ditta Khan, center, who has been arrested in the killing of a British woman police officer, following his court appearance in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)
Piran Ditta Khan was extradited from Pakistan. Pic: AP

Detective Superintendent Marc Bowes, of West Yorkshire Police, said: “Today as always our thoughts remain with PC Sharon Beshenivsky and her family.

“Sharon went to work to protect the public, she responded to a call for help alongside her colleague Teresa but tragically never came home.

“This verdict is the culmination of 18 years of hard work, tenacious grit and determination to bring Khan before the courts.”

Khan fled to Pakistan three months after the murder and evaded arrest until he was detained by Pakistani authorities in 2020 and extradited to the UK last year.

Sharon Beshenivsky
PC Beshenivsky died at the scene. Pic: Reuters

At his trial at Leeds Crown Court, he claimed the owner of the travel agency owed him £12,000 and thought the men sent to recover the money would only “intimidate” the staff.

Prosecutors said that although Khan was not one of the three smartly dressed men who carried out the robbery, he had played a “pivotal” role and was guilty of murder “as surely as if he pulled the trigger on that pistol himself”.

He pleaded guilty to robbery and was today found guilty of murder.

Khan is the last of the seven men involved in the raid to be tried – Mustaf Jama, Yusuf Jama and Muzzaker Shah are serving life sentences with minimum 35-year terms after being found guilty of murder, robbery and firearms offences in 2006 and 2007.

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Teresa Milburn
PC Teresa Milburn survived her injuries. Pic: Reuters

The court heard Khan, who had told his accomplices they would make between £50,000 to £100,000, did not leave the safety of the Mercedes SLK used as the lookout car.

PC Milburn said in a statement she and her colleague “didn’t have a chance” and described PC Beshenivsky “stopping in terror” as she approached the door of Universal Express and saw the gunman.

PC Beshenivsky was shot in the chest before collapsing to the floor with an immediately fatal injury, while PC MIlburn managed to radio for help while she was on the pavement coughing up blood.

She was the seventh serving female officer ever to be killed in the line of duty in Britain and left behind her husband Paul, three children and two stepchildren.