Birmingham riot deaths: Eight men cleared
Eight men have been found not guilty of the murders of three men during last summer's riots in Birmingham.
Haroon Jahan, 20, and brothers Shazad Ali, 30, and Abdul Musavir, 31, died on 10 August after being hit by a car on Dudley Road in Winson Green.
All eight defendants denied they planned to kill the men in a co-ordinated attack using three cars and said the deaths were an accident.
Judge Mr Justice Flaux appealed for calm on the streets of Birmingham.
The judge had questioned the reliability of the evidence given in court by Detective Chief Inspector Anthony Tagg, the senior investigating officer.
This is now the subject of an Independent Police Complaints Commission inquiry.'Tragic and pointless'
The three victims were part of a group of about 80 men who said they had gathered on Dudley Road late on 9 August to defend local businesses after riots started in the Handsworth area.
The three friends were injured at about 01:00 BST on 10 August and died later at the nearby City Hospital.
Hours after the deaths, Mr Jahan's father Tariq made an appeal asking people not to seek reprisal.
The judge paid tribute to the "wonderful" work of Mr Jahan, who listened in the public gallery as the verdicts were announced.
Later Mr Jahan sent a message once again to people in the community.
"I would like to appeal for peace and calm in our community in light of today's verdicts," he said.
He added the families do not wish to make any further comment regarding the court case at this time.
The prosecution alleged the eight defendants had planned to draw the men into the street before one of the cars struck them.
End Quote Mr Justice Flaux
What happened on the streets of Birmingham and other cities last August should never be repeated”
Defendant Ian Beckford, 30, of Holly Bush Road, Quinton, who was the driver of the car which hit the victims, told the court he had been friends with Mr Musavir and Mr Ali and had been trying to flee from a large group on Dudley Road at the time.
Mr Justice Flaux described the incident as "a tragic and pointless loss of three young lives".
He added: "However, by their verdicts the jury have decided that this was not a deliberate killing, that there was no plan to kill these three young men.
"It is important that, however strong feelings are within the community in Winson Green and adjacent areas, calm is maintained and that these verdicts are respected.
"Any other action would not be honouring those who died. In fact quite the reverse.
"What happened on the streets of Birmingham and other cities last August should never be repeated."'Painstaking'
Speaking to the victims' families, the judge said: "I know this has been really terrible for you, don't think I don't know that.
"Can I please ask you to remain calm and so far as it humanly possible to put everything that happened last August behind you and look to the future."
End Quote Assistant Chief Constable Gary Cann
If we need some extra officers to help reassure people, then we'll provide those extra officers”
The other defendants were Adam King, 24, of no fixed address; Ryan Goodwin, 21, of Cranford Street, Smethwick; Joshua Donald, 27, of Kelsall Croft, Ladywood; Shaun Flynn, 26, of Wandsworth Road, Kingstanding; Everton Graham, 30, of Mount Pleasant Avenue, Handsworth; Juan Pablo Ruiz-Gaviria, 31, of Coplow Street, Ladywood, and 18-year-old Aaron Parkins, whose address has been withheld by the court.
The eight men hugged and shook hands with each other as the verdicts were announced.
Harry Ireland, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said there had been a "painstaking" investigation by the police.
He said the CPS was confident the evidence suggested there could be a realistic chance of a conviction, but added he respected the jury's decision.
Assistant Chief Constable Gary Cann echoed the judge's hope that there would be "reflection and reconciliation" within the community.
Asked if he was concerned about trouble in Winson Green in the light of the verdicts, he said: "We... recognise how difficult this has been for all the communities in the West Midlands, particularly those in Winson Green and the immediate surrounding area."
He said local neighbourhood teams would be providing extra support to people in the area.
"If we need some extra officers to help reassure people, then we'll provide those extra officers," he added.