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Gang shouted ‘the Feds are here’ before shooting officers, court told

A gang shouted “the Feds are here” before shooting dead a police officer who interrupted them during an armed robbery at a travel agents, a court heard.

Police constable Sharon Beshenivsky and her colleague Pc Teresa Milburn were shot at point blank range as they responded to a robbery at Universal Express travel agents in Bradford, West Yorkshire, in November 2005.

Leeds Crown Court has heard a total of seven men were involved in carrying out the raid, with alleged ringleader Piran Ditta Khan the last to face trial almost two decades on.

Khan, 75, travelled to Pakistan two months after the robbery and evaded arrest until he was detained by Pakistani authorities in 2020 and extradited to the UK last year.

Prosecutors say that although Khan was not one of the three men who carried out the robbery, and did not leave the safety of a Mercedes SLK which was allegedly being used as a lookout car, he is guilty of Pc Beshenivsky’s murder due to his “pivotal” role in planning the raid knowing that loaded weapons were to be used.

Jurors have heard that of the seven men, Khan was the only one who was familiar with Universal Express after using the business to send money to family in Pakistan.

Sketch of the suspect in court
Sketch of Piran Ditta Khan appearing at Leeds Crown Court (Elizabeth Cook/PA)

Khan’s trial has heard evidence from the three sons of Mohammad Yousaf, who owned Universal Express at the time.

Waqas Yousaf, who now owns the business, pressed a panic button during the robbery which led to Pc Beshenivsky and Pc Milburn being called to the scene.

Aqeel Yousaf, the eldest brother, told the court he let the three robbers – two black males and an Asian male – into the office through an electronic door and had a conversation about airline tickets with the Asian male before one of the other men jumped onto the counter holding a gun.

Mr Yousaf said the three men “bundled” everyone who was there – Mohammad Yousaf, his three sons, their uncle and a family friend – into an office, told them to lie on the floor and tied their hands while demanding money.

He said: “I was shoved to the floor faceward with my hands tied behind my back.

“I felt something very hard strike me on the side of my temple and I lost consciousness for five to 10 seconds.”

Aqeel Yousaf said Waqas Yousaf took the men to the safe to show them it was empty.

He told the court: “I recall him saying that ‘I don’t think these guys are serious enough – we had better shoot one of them and then they’ll probably give us some money’.

Leeds Crown Court
The trial takes place at Leeds Crown Court (Anna Gowthorpe/PA)

“One of them pointed towards me and said: ‘He looks like the youngest, so let’s shoot him first, then they might be serious.’”

Aqeel Yousaf said at one point he heard one of the men saying: “The Feds are here.’

“I heard the metal doors opening. I heard what sounded like a gunshot and I heard a scream.

“I remember that one shot and then I heard a short time after that almost simultaneous shots being fired. I can’t say whether it was two, three, four.”

Faris Khokhar, the youngest brother, told the court the robbers initially demanded £100,000, later asking for £50,000.

He told the court: “I said: ‘We don’t have that kind of money, whatever’s there is in the drawers.’

“I told them: ‘The money’s been banked, whatever we have is in that drawer.’”

Prosecutors say Khan told the gang they would get between £50,000 and £100,000 from the robbery. Jurors have heard the amount stolen was around £5,400.

Prosecutor Robert Smith KC said the two officers were shot at almost point blank range by one of three men who had just committed the robbery, with the gunman “firing indiscriminately” as he ran away from the scene before getting into a nearby car.

Khan denies murder, two counts of possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life and two counts of possession of a prohibited weapon.

Pc Beshenivsky, 38, had only been an officer for nine months when she was shot in the chest at point blank range while responding to the robbery.

Pc Milburn was shot in the chest, but survived.

The trial continues.