The mastermind behind a robbery in which PC Sharon Beshenivsky was killed has been found guilty of her murder.

Piran Ditta Khan, 75, was found guilty of murder, two counts of possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life and two counts of possession of an offensive weapon after jurors sitting on the lengthy trial at Leeds Crown Court took 18 hours and 44 minutes to deliberate its verdict.

Khan managed to evade capture for nearly 20 years before being caught and extradited back to the UK from Pakistan.

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Police constable Sharon Beshenivsky was killed on November 18 2005. She and her colleague PC Teresa Milburn were responding to a report of a robbery at Universal Express travel agents in Bradford.

Prosecutor Robert Smith KC previously told the jury that the two officers were shot at close range by one of three men who had just committed the robbery. The gunman fired indiscriminately as he fled the scene before getting into a nearby car.

The court heard that seven men were involved in the robbery. All have been convicted except Khan. Khan, who is believed to have planned the robbery, flew to Pakistan three months after PC Beshenivsky’s death.

Sharon Beshenivsky was killed during the raid on Universal Express Travel
PC Sharon Beshenivsky
(Image: PA)

Mr Smith told the court that Khan, although not directly involved in the robbery or shooting of PC Beshenivsky, “was responsible for organising this robbery in the knowledge that loaded firearms were to be carried”. He added that during the robbery, Khan “did not leave the safety” of a Mercedes SLK used as a lookout car.

The prosecutor stated that the men who committed 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 court heard that Universal Express, besides being a travel agency, also facilitated money transfers from people in the UK to relatives in Pakistan. Mr Smith said that Khan, a resident of Ilford, north London, had previously used this service and was “the only one amongst the group that knew the location of the business and the interior of the premises in question.”

Piran Ditta Khan, was first arrested by Pakistani Police in January 2020 in connection with the murder of PC Sharon Beshenivsky
Piran Ditta Khan, was first arrested by Pakistani Police in January 2020 in connection with the murder of PC Sharon Beshenivsky
(Image: Ian Vogler / Daily Mirror)

It was also revealed that Khan would have known about the large amounts of cash kept on the premises during the day. The jury heard that the seven men gathered at a house in Leeds on the morning of the robbery, with a witness overhearing one of them asking Khan about the potential loot.

Mr Smith said Khan was the only one of the group who had the knowledge of how the premises was operated, and told jurors the defendant had also visited Universal Express five days earlier “in order to complete planning for the robbery.”

Following the verdicts, His Honourable Mr Justice Hilliard told the court the case was one where “A police officer who was killed in the line of duty and never came home. Even after so many years it hardly bears thinking about. There is only one sentence for murder and that is one of imprisonment for life. I must set the minimum term the defendant must serve.”

A sentencing date is yet to be fixed.

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