The victim, Ishrat Khan, said he was attacked in a Nottingham street by three men wearing balaclavas. Khan, who was very drunk at the time of the attack, identified Altaaf, Hussain and Ali as his attackers. Independent witnesses said only one of the men wore a balaclava. One witness said that two of the attackers were white. All the men convicted are Asian. All had strong alibis.
Khan has many convictions. His evidence was extraordinary. The following is from the appeal judgment:
5. The case depended primarily on the evidence of the victim. We need not go through that evidence or any other of the salient features of the case. When the victim came to be cross-examined, there were to start with the usual problems with which everyone involved in the Crown Court is familiar, of the judge having to encourage, persuade, cajole and ultimately tell the witness to answer the question, not to make speeches, to focus on what was being asked of him and to answer as best he could where his memory was not as bright as it might have been. But that was of no importance to what lay ahead. In the end significant problems arose because the witness made a number of very serious allegations of criminal conduct by the three applicants which was of no relevance and, even if true, would have been entirely inadmissible at the trial. He also made a number of forceful, intimidatory observations, accompanied by some physical signs of it, towards the jury.
6. We can encapsulate what is a much longer point by considering briefly some of the cross-examination. The following extract gives a flavour of the evidence:
“THE JUDGE: Just listen, would you, please? I keep repeating it —
THE WITNESS: Your Honour, I’ve been threatened, I’ve been bribed, everything.
THE JUDGE: Mr Khan, will you stop, please, and listen to what I have to say? Are you listening? Would you please answer the questions —
THE WITNESS: Yes.
THE JUDGE: — and not make voluntary statements outside the ambit of the questions? Now, do I make myself clear?
THE WITNESS: Yes, sir.”
Within a moment or two the judge again reminded the witness to concentrate on the question. That reminder attracted this observation:
“It’s a mockery.”
He was then cross-examined further. He made plain to Mr O’Connor QC, who was then cross-examining that he realised that it was being suggested to him that he was a liar and a fraud and a cheat. The judge intervened and said:
“No, just listen.
THE WITNESS: Magna Carta, no man shall be denied justice.
THE JUDGE: Wait for the questions.
MR O’CONNOR: Mr Khan, I recognise —
THE WITNESS: If they come back out on the street, then you’re going to have the biggest war on your hands.
THE JUDGE: Listen to me, please.
THE WITNESS: And I promise you that in this courtroom. I’m sick of this, it’s a mockery of the judicial system. All you people are characters, clowns, and I’ve had enough. You can let them out on the street and I promise you I’ll bring them a war that you’ll always remember, everybody on this court will.”
The judge sought to intervene:
“Mr Khan —
THE WITNESS: I’m sitting here telling the truth. I’m sitting here telling the truth, whatever I’ve done, whatever I’ve not done, I have done it and I have admitted it, but those people sitting there in their suits, they don’t wear suits, they wear tracksuits when they’re on the streets, they wear trainers, they sell drugs, Class A drugs.
THE JUDGE: Mr Khan, will you please sit down. Just sit dow. Now will you calm yourself. Are you quite calm now?
THE WITNESS: Yes.
THE JUDGE: You are. Would you be kind enough, please, to listen to the questions and answer them. Thank you.”
There were then a few questions from Mr O’Connor before the judge again had to intervene. He said:
THE WITNESS: They are gangsters over there, they’re gangsters, they’ll get what, what goes around comes around. If you people don’t do them justice somebody else will and that’s a promise.
MR O’CONNOR: You can arrange it, can you now, Mr Khan?
A. I can’t. They’ve a thousand enemies out there on the streets who want these people. They’ve been blowing people’s cars up and all sorts.”
The judge sought to intervene again:
“Mr Khan —
THE WITNESS: Shooting through people’s windows, everything —
THE JUDGE: Mr Khan, will you please calm down and listen to the questions and answer them. I suggest we move on —
THE WITNESS: It’s the jury that should be scared of those people. I don’t go and attack people like you. Those people and me, we don’t get on because they’re shit. We’re all scum. I don’t claim to be a good guy, but we got on, you know, because we’re scum, but those people attack people like you, not me.”
Despite these outbursts, the trial continued. The appeal was dismissed on 23 February 2006.
To find out more, and make contact with the three men’s campaign, go to their website http://www.alossoffaith.com/
Three jailed for attempted murder
Two Nottingham men and a youth have been jailed for a total of 50 years for attempted murder and firearms offences.