Officer shot dead at almost point-blank range during robbery nearly 20 years ago, murder trial told


A police officer who was shot dead while responding to an armed robbery nearly 20 years ago was gunned down at almost point-blank range, her murder trial has been told.

PC Sharon Beshenivsky was killed on 18 November 2005 as she and her colleague PC Teresa Milburn responded to a report of a robbery at Universal Express travel agents in Morley Street, Bradford, West Yorkshire.

Piran Ditta Khan, who is accused of planning the robbery, is on trial charged with murder, two counts of possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life and two counts of possession of a prohibited weapon.

Khan, 75, is on trial nearly 20 years after PC Beshenivsky’s death because he flew to Pakistan three months after the shooting.

He had been living freely there until he was arrested and detained by Pakistani authorities in January 2020.

Prosecutor Robert Smith KC told Leeds Crown Court that Khan arrived in the UK in April last year after an extradition request from the British government.

PC Beshenivsky’s widower Paul watched from the public gallery as the trial got under way on Tuesday.

Mr Smith described how PC Beshenivsky and PC Milburn were shot at at almost point-blank range by one of three men who had just committed the robbery.

PC Beshenivsky, who was 38, was killed while PC Milburn, who was 37 at the time, was seriously injured.

A gunman had opened fire “indiscriminately” as he ran away from the scene before getting into a nearby car, Mr Smith said.

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Teresa Milburn pictured at colleague PC Beshenivsky’s funeral in 2006 Pic: AP

Seven men were involved in the robbery with six of them having been convicted, the jury has been told.

Prosecutors said Khan, who is suspected of being the seventh man, was not one of the three men who carried out the robbery, and did not shoot PC Beshenivsky.

Khan “did not leave the safety” of a Mercedes SLK which was being used as a lookout car during the robbery, the jury has been told.

However, he was “responsible for organising this robbery in the knowledge that loaded firearms were to be carried”, the court was told.

Mr Smith said the men who carried out the robbery “were disposed to use their firearms to kill or to seriously injure anyone who stood in their way… something of which the defendant would have been well aware”.

The prosecutor added: “The part [Khan] played was such that the prosecution contends he is also guilty of the murder of Sharon Beshenivsky.”

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Universal Express was a travel agents which also provided a service for people living and working in the UK to transfer money to the bank accounts of relatives in Pakistan, the court has been told.

Mr Smith said Khan, who lived in Ilford, north London, had used this service before and was “the only one among the group that knew the location of the business and the interior of the premises in question”.

He would have been aware that large amounts of cash were kept on the premises during the day, the jury was told.

The seven men involved in the robbery had assembled at a house in Leeds on the morning of the robbery, with a witness overhearing one of them asking Khan how much money they could expect to get.

The witness heard Khan saying a minimum of £50,000 and a maximum of £100,000, Mr Smith said.

The other men involved in the robbery have since been convicted of offences including murder, manslaughter, robbery and possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life, the court has been told.

Khan denies the charges and the trial continues.

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