On 15th October 2013 Naeem Mehmood went to the shop ran by his boss, Parvaiz Iqbal. There, for reasons unknown, Mr Mehmood stabbed Mr Iqbal with a knife 51 times, leaving him dead. Saeed Hussain, a colleague, was stabbed once when he tried to help.
After that, Mr Mehmood went on a ‘rampage through Rotherham’. He smashed car windows and threatened passers by with a machete that he had picked up from the shop. Fortunately, nobody else was attacked before Mr Mehmood was persuaded to surrender himself by a police officer.
He pleaded guilty to murder (as well as wounding Mr Hussain) and was sentenced on 21st February 2014 to life imprisonment. Regular readers will know that that is a mandatory sentence and the more interesting question is what the tariff will be.
In this case, the tariff was set at 27 years.
In sentencing, the Judge said that “the seriousness of this offence was particularly high” and took a starting point of 30 years. It is not immediately clear why this would be the case, but reading the sentencing remarks, it was the ferocity of the attack that lead the Judge put it in this category.
We know that the trial was scheduled for March, so whilst this is not a plea at the earliest opportunity, it is well in advance of the trial, so the credit for this plea would have been in the range of 10-15% (capped at 5 years). This would give a starting point of 31-32 years.
The increase from a 30 year starting point could be explained by the other offences committed. This does seem, in total, rather high. On the face of it the starting point was 15 years, but strongly aggravated by the savage nature of the killing and the attack on Mr Hussain, before credit for a plea. We would have thought a tariff more in the region of 20-22 years would have been imposed.
It seemed from the news reports that both the knife and machete were in the shop and not brought to the scene by Mr Mehmood, but his lawyers appears to have suggested that the knife was taken there and so the starting point should be 25 years. The higher starting point ‘takes in’ many of the aggravating features, so this would still give a tariff of 23-24 years rather than the one imposed.
The Judge stated that there was “no evidence of any mental difficulties which might explain your conduct” which is perhaps surprising given the nature of the attack.
We would expect an appeal against the sentence and will keep an eye out for it.