Watch: gunman who fled to Pakistan facing life in jail for 2016 Digbeth warehouse murder

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Tahir Zarif had fled the UK to Pakistan on February 8, 2016 five days after he shot and killed Akhtar Javeed in 2016

A gunman who fled the UK after shooting dead a businessman in a botched Birmingham robbery was brought back to the UK to face justice after two years on the run.

Tahir Zarif is seen in the video above being taken off a plane in handcuffs after being extradited from Pakistan.

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Zarif, aged 31, had fled the UK to Pakistan on February 8, 2016 – five days after he and three other men raided the Direct Source 3 warehouse on Rea Street in Digbeth. The raid went horrifically wrong as the gang threatened manager Akhtar Javeed, aged 56, and ordered him to give up the company’s takings.

While staff were held hostage at gunpoint, Zarif led Mr Javeed from the office into the reception where he shot him in the leg as a violent warning to open the safe. Mr Javeed tried to escape but was shot twice more at point blank range.

Bravely, he managed to escape before stumbling across the car park to the pavement where he collapsed and died in a pool of his own blood.

The gang fled, but detectives trawled CCTV to trace their movements in the hours before and after the robbery, corroborating the images with mobile phone data and ANPR captures.

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Tahir Zarif is pictured on the planeTahir Zarif is pictured on the plane
Tahir Zarif is pictured on the plane

A jury heard in 2016 how one of the gang - a former disgruntled employee at Direct Source 3 - drew a plan of the warehouse so the robbers knew exactly where to go once inside. They were jailed for a combined total of nearly 40 years, but Zarif was still on the run.

West Midlands Police worked with the National Crime Agency, CPS, Foreign Office, the British High Commission in Pakistan and the Pakistani authorities to pursue Zarif and he was finally detained in Mirpur on 17 January 2018.

He was flown back to the UK in February 2020 and stood trial at Coventry Crown Court this month.

He claimed he’d accidentally shot Mr Javeed twice in a struggle,but was found guilty of murder today and now faces a life sentence when he is sentenced next Friday (9 December).

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Tahir Zarif in an image we released at the time of the killing of Mr Javeed (right)Tahir Zarif in an image we released at the time of the killing of Mr Javeed (right)
Tahir Zarif in an image we released at the time of the killing of Mr Javeed (right)

Family tribute

Speaking after the 2016 convictions, Lilas - Mr Javeed’s daughter − said: “I do not want us to forget that there is still one outstanding perpetrator on the run, as it stands, literally getting away with murder. I have faith that the justice system will do its best to bring him back and bring him to justice. I would be saddened to think he has got away with it as what message would that give to society?”

Today, speaking on behalf of the family, she said: “It’s been six years and nine months since my father’s life was taken by Tahir Zarif. My father has been in our thoughts every day since. As I have said before my father was an honourable gentleman. Another man’s greed led to my father’s unlawful death. We are grateful to West Midlands Police for their hard work in ensuring justice is served.”

Det Insp Ranj Sangha added: “Despite most of the gang being jailed for this horrific crime back in 2016, we refused to rest until Zarif, who fired the fatal shots, was brought to justice.

“We worked really closely with partners in this country and in Pakistan to get this result, and I hope Mr Akhtar’s family can get some sense of closure from today.”

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