Suspected ringleader of armed robbery behind PC Sharon Beshenivsky murder evaded capture in Pakistan for 20 years

Suspected ringleader of armed robbery behind PC Sharon Beshenivsky murder evaded capture in Pakistan for 20 years
Man armed with crossbow shot dead by police
GB News
Anna Riley

By Anna Riley

Published: 14/02/2024

- 14:50

Updated: 14/02/2024

- 15:04

Piran Ditta Khan is accused of the murder of married mum-of-three PC Sharon Beshenivsky in 2005

The suspected ringleader of an armed robbery resulting in the death of a police officer is on trial for murder after evading police for almost 20 years, by hiding from the law in Pakistan.

Piran Ditta Khan, 75, is accused of the murder of married mum-of-three PC Sharon Beshenivsky on November 18, 2005. She was gunned down at almost point-blank range as she and her colleague PC Teresa Milburn responded a robbery at Universal Express travel agents in Bradford, West Yorkshire.

Prosecutors told a jury at Leeds Crown Court that Khan avoided capture for nearly two decades as he flew to Pakistan three months after PC Beshenivsky's death and remained free until his arrest by Pakistani authorities in January 2020.

Robert Smith KC said that seven men were involved in the robbery. All have been convicted except for Piran Ditta Khan, who is believed to have planned the robbery.

Sketch of Piran Ditta Khan in court with inset of PC Sharon Beshenivsky

Piran Ditta Khan is accused of the murder of married mum-of-three PC Sharon Beshenivsky


He is now on trial at Leeds Crown Court charged with murder, two counts of possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life and two counts of possession of a prohibited weapon.

Mr Smith told the court that although Mr Khan did not shoot at officers and was not one of the three men who carried out the robbery he "was responsible for organising" it knowing "loaded firearms were to be carried".

He said although Mr Khan remained in a lookout car during the robbery "the part he played was such that the prosecution contend he is also guilty of the murder of Sharon Beshenivsky".

PC Beshenivsky, who was 38-years-old, was due to finish her shift and attend her four-year-old daughter’s birthday party when she was fatally shot and killed outside Universal Express in Bradford.

Prosecutor Robert Smith KC said she and PC Teresa Milburn, who was 37 at the time, were shot at "indiscriminately" by the shooter as he fled the scene of the robbery. He said the officers were unarmed and "neither presented any effective threat" to the robbers.

As well as being a travel agency, the court heard that Universal Express also facilitated money transfers from people in the UK to relatives in Pakistan. Mr Smith said that Khan, a resident of Ilford, east 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".

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 that was being renovated to house asylum seekers. A witness overheard one of them asking Khan about how much they could steal from the business.

The witness heard Khan mention a sum between £50,000 and £100,000 and that he said that this figure was “genuine” and that the robbery was “safe”, according to Mr Smith.

Sketch of Piran Ditta Khan in court

Prosecutors told a jury that Khan avoided capture for nearly two decades as he flew to Pakistan


Mr Smith said two of the men who carried out the robbery were "dressed for the occasion in suits", while the third was dressed in a smart white shirt and jacket. One of them also carried a laptop bag which contained "at least one pistol and machine gun, both of which were loaded", as well as a large knife and cable for "tying up staff at the premises".

"Their conduct in dressing this way was not by chance but as a result of knowledge of how the premises were operated, in particular the need to present themselves as responsible persons in order to be admitted to the premises," the prosecutor said.

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

The court today heard that on the day of PC Beshenivsky's death three cars were involved in the robbery. These were a Toyota Rav4 containing the three men who carried out the robbery, a Mercedes SLK in which Khan was a passenger and a Toyota Corolla and travelled in convoy and parked at different locations close to the business.

As they approached the door of Universal Express, PC Beshenivsky was slightly ahead of PC Milburn, who later described seeing an Asian man stretch out his hand and shoot PC Beshenivsky, whose injury was fatal.

PC Beshenivsky had been an officer for only nine months and died on the pavement after being shot through the heart.

After this man shot Sharon Beshenivsky, Teresa Milburn saw him move his pistol towards her.

“She heard a bang and felt immense pain. She knew immediately she had been shot," Mr Smith told the jury.

PC Sharon Beshenivsky

PC Sharon Beshenivsky was killed in 2005


PC Milburn activated her personal radio and called for help as she coughed up blood on the pavement. She survived her injuries after hospital treatment.

Mr Smith said before Khan left the UK for Islamabad, he had a "settled business and domestic life in England and Scotland," and made plans to open a fast food outlet in Aberdeen. 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.

On the night before the armed robbery, the court heard that Khan, who was known as “uncle”, visited a brothel in Leeds with four other men involved and that the group drank “champagne, vodka and Coca-Cola”.

Summing up the opening of the facts of the case on Wednesday afternoon, prosecutor Mr Smith told the jury that although Khan did not shoot the gun that killed PC Beshenivsky, he is “equally as responsible as the man who pulled the trigger”.

Addressing the jury, he said: “Underpinning these charges is the part the defendant [Khan] played in them, if you accept and find proof on the available evidence that the defendant was involved in the organisation of robbery and that he knew for it to be carried out or to evade arrest, firearms would be carried and could be used to carry out serious bodily harm and with that intent he participated in robbery with those responsible for murder, he would be equally responsible for the murder of Beshenivsky as the man who pulled the trigger.”

“The prosecution do not say the defendant brought the firearms to Leeds or ever carried them, for purpose of these charges it is not necessary for prosecution to prove defendant ever had them in his possession, it is sufficient that with the necessary intent he was party of commission of these offences.”

On the day of PC Beshenivsky’s death, she and her family were due to hold a birthday party for their four-year-old daughter at their home near Haworth in West Yorkshire. She had wrapped the presents and even baked a cake for the occasion.

At the time of the tragedy, PC Beshenivsky was the seventh serving female officer ever to be killed in the line of duty in Britain.

The nation came to a standstill for her funeral, with hundreds of officers lining the route of the cortege.

Khan, a British citizen who is being assisted by a Punjabi interpreter, pleaded guilty in October last year to robbery but denies involvement in the murder or firearms offences, including possessing a Mac-10 submachine gun and a 9mm pistol.

The trial, which could last up to eight weeks, continues.

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