The Death of Shahid Aziz and the failure of the Prison Service to learn lessons following the Zahid Murbarek Inquiry.
Shahid Aziz was killed by his cell mate, Peter McCann, on the morning of 2nd April 2004, literally within minutes of being locked up in the same cell at HMP Leeds.
The account given by Peter McCann as to the circumstances of the murder, when he was interviewed by the representatives of the Ombudsman just a few days after the incident, and which was referred to in open court at the sentencing hearings at Bradford Crown Court in July 2004, are that:-
- Shahid Aziz and Peter McCann had never met previously.
- That they had both been moved from the induction (D) wing to A wing at HMP Leeds on the morning of 2nd April 2004.
- That Peter McCann had not wanted to take part in cleaning the cell that he had been moved into with Shahid Aziz. He left the cleaning to one of the wing cleaners, another Asian inmate, and Mr Aziz.
- That when the cell door was closed after the cell was cleaned Peter McCann had an argument with Shahid Aziz, which was at least in part caused by the fact that Shahid Aziz and the Asian cleaner had spoken together in a foreign language, which had upset Mr McCann.
- Peter McCann stated that as they got into a fight Shahid Aziz produced a weapon and that Peter McCann was able to get the weapon from Shahid Aziz, after which he used the weapon to slash the throat of Shahid Aziz.
- After slashing the throat of Shahid Aziz he then pulled Shahid Aziz around the cell by his "Allah beads" and then struck him about the head with an object.
The family of Shahid Aziz dispute that Shahid Aziz ever produced a weapon of any kind and has been able to point to the following factors:
1. The post mortem report regarding the injuries inflicted on Shahid Aziz.
2. The complete lack of any injuries to Peter McCann.
3. The known history of Peter McCann, particularly inside prison, but also outside prison, in relation to the carrying of bladed articles, and fights with other prisoners.
However, following a plea of guilty to murder, on the basis that Peter McCann used excessive force (while initially acting in self defence), the Prosecution were unable to prove on the criminal standard that Peter McCann had the weapon in his possession right from the beginning of the incident. Accordingly, Peter McCann was sentenced on the basis of his plea, and the facts as he presented them rather than any finding, either way, as to exactly what occurred in the cell on the morning of 2nd April 2004.
Peter McCann is therefore serving a life sentence for murder, with a tariff of 12 years.
Click Here to read the Statement of Parveen Mahmood (aka Khan) and family following the conclusion of the inquest touching on the death of Shahid Aziz and the announcement of the jury's findings
Media links covering the Aziz case
INQUEST evidence and public documents
Here are some links to press statements and news items covering the inquest:
1. Press Statement before inquest: http://inquest.gn.apc.org/pdf/2007/shahid_aziz_opening_pr_april_2007.pdf
2. Observer report, 15 April 2007: http://observer.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,,2057542,00.html
3. BBC News on-line report, 16 April 2007 ('Family fears are focus of inquest'): http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/west_yorkshire/6561279.stm
4. BBC News on-line report, 17 April 2007 ('Cell killer was deemed 'low risk''): http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/west_yorkshire/6564497.stm
5. Press Statement before McCann's evidence: http://inquest.gn.apc.org/pdf/2007/aziz_inquest_mccann_evidence_april_2007.pdf
6. BBC News on-line report, 30 April 2007 ('Jail cell killer attends inquest'): http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/west_yorkshire/6609587.stm
7. Yorkshire Evening News report, 1 May 2007 ('Killer re-lives cell murder'):http://www.leedstoday.net/news?articleid=2842615
8. Yorkshire Evening Post ('Family of jail killer's victim will sue') http://www.leedstoday.net/news?articleid=2888810
9. Yorkshire Post 18 May 2007 ('Jail faces rap over shared cell killer') http://www.yorkshiretoday.co.uk/news?articleid=2889047
10. The Guardian ('Violent white prisoner killed Asian cellmate after staff ignored warning')http://www.guardian.co.uk/celldeaths/article/0,,2082663,00.html
11. The Guardian 19 May 2007('Cell Deaths') http://www.guardian.co.uk/prisons/story/0,,2083407,00.html