Forest Gate shopkeeper ‘still living in fear’ after horrific attack
A SHOPKEEPER left scarred for life following a horrific revenge attack is still living with the terrifying memories almost 18 months on.
Fawad Irshad, 30, was left brain damaged and partially paralysed after he was hacked with a machete outside his Firawani convenience store in Woodgrange Road, Forest Gate, on October 27 2009.
One of his attackers, 22-year-old Mohammed Adan, was jailed for 25 years at the Old Bailey after he was convicted of attempted murder.
The court was told the violence had been an act of revenge for the shopkeeper’s actions in handing over a 13-year-old shoplifter to the police two days earlier.
Speaking to the Recorder, Mr Irshad – known to friends as Freddie – said he was still haunted by what had happened.
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“It’s something that will always stay with me,” he said.
“I still fear for my own life when I’m out and feel scared in my own house.
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“I still have nightmares and flashbacks two or three times a week.
“I’m always feeling scared. I will stay upstairs in my room on my laptop or watching TV.
“On the rare occasions I do go out, someone has to be with me.”
Mr Irshad moved to London from Leeds to take over the shop around six years ago.
Prior to the attack he had been due to get married in Pakistan in January 2010 and fly to Spain for a holiday.
He was also hoping to start a new career as a freelance web designer after completing a computer course.
But he had to put his life on hold as he underwent months of treatment at Homerton Hospital.
The shop has since been given away and, following his discharge, Mr Irshad moved out of his own apartment and in with his parents Mohammad and Rubina, and sister Mahreen, 26.
He is still undergoing an intensive course of physical and mental therapy.
“Everything has been put on hold,” he said.
“I can’t travel until I get approval from the doctors.
“My dad is too elderly to look after the shop and I’m not in a position to go back.
“I have a fear that someone’s going to come back and I’ll be hit again.
“I am currently struggling financially with the mortgage on my flat and I keep falling into arrears.”
Looking back on his actions in confronting the teenage shoplifter, he said: “People always said to me I should let the thieves walk away.
“But how many times are you supposed to let them go?
“I wanted to stand up and say, ‘What are you playing at?’
“I didn’t make much money and when someone took something – even if it was just a bag of sweets or a bottle of Coke – it affected the profits.”
Mr Irshad welcomed the sentence handed out to his attacker, but his sister said the family still live in fear of further revenge attacks.
“You can see what happened when one child was handed over to the police,” she said.
“Now someone has been sentenced to 25 years’ imprisonment, how are we supposed to assure our safety?”
THE Old Bailey was told Mr Irshad’s injuries were the result of a “ferocious” street attack.
His assailant, Mohammed Adan, 22, left his 30-year-old victim with his nose almost completely severed.
Though he is now partially paralysed after suffering bleeding on the brain, he was able to tell police that he recognised the knifeman as the man who had demanded �100 “protection money” two years earlier.
Adan, who denied he was responsible, was unanimously convicted of attempted murder by a jury.
His friends Safwaan Patel, 24, and a youth, 17, were cleared of conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm. The 17-year-old was found guilty of issuing threats to kill Mr Irshad’s family and burn down his store a day before the machete attack.
Jurors heard how on October 25, 2009, a group of schoolchildren ran into the shop on Woodgrange Road, Forest Gate, and started grabbing sweets and other stock.
One of the boys, aged 13, was stopped by Mr Irshad and held until officers arrived to investigate. Though no charges were pressed, Adan decided to take revenge.
Prosecutor Benedict Kelleher said: “The attack was apparently motivated by vengeance, vengeance for the fact that the shopkeeper had caught a shoplifter in his shop, a young boy of 13, and he had the audacity — as the gang saw it — to hand the boy over to the police.”
The following day the youth told Mr Irshad that he and his friends were going to “jack” the shop and added: “I will kill your family and I will burn down your shop.”
On October 27, Mr Irshad closed up the business and went next door to the Chicken Inn takeaway with a few friends.
When Mr Irshad and his friends left the takeaway they were confronted by Adan armed with a machete.
Mr Kelleher said: “The attack was both ferocious and quick and lasted no more than 21 seconds.
“Mr Irshad saw one of the group approaching him and he recognised him as the man who had in the past threatened the shop and asked for �100 in return. That man was Mohammed Adan.
“As he approached him, he took the machete out of a sports bag he was carrying and proceeded to strike the victim over the head.
“There were several blows to the head which left him with deep cuts to the side of the head and his nose was almost severed by the force of the attack.”
Two of Mr Irshad’s friends also required hospital treatment.
The youth and Patel were arrested at their homes the next day and claimed they were only in the area to do a cannabis deal.
When Patel’s home was searched, police found 16 plastic bags full of cannabis and he has since admitted possession with intent to supply.
Adan, of Tower Hamlets Road, Forest Gate, was not caught until January 2010 but made no comment in interview. He denied attempted murder.
The youth, from the Forest Gate area, and Patel, of Sebert Road, Forest Gate, both denied conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm with intent and were cleared.
The younger defendant also denied making a threat to kill but was convicted by a majority of ten to two.
He was released on conditional bail to be sentenced on a date to be set, following Probation Service reports.
Adan was jailed for 25 years for the machete attack which “ruined the life” of his victim.
Jailing Adan, Judge Paul Worsley QC said he had used “extreme violence” and shown no mercy to his victim.
“You attended at the scene mob-handed with a machete which you carried concealed on your person. You masked yourselves, as had others,” he said.
“You went straight to the victim who was completely harmless and completely unawares and you brought that machete down on his head repeatedly.
“It is only through the skill of the doctors that he didn’t die.”
Adan showed no emotion as he was sentenced, but waved to the public gallery as he was led to the cells.
The court heard he has conviction for 11 offences dating back to 2004. They include an attempted robbery in which he threatened to stab his victim as he tried to steal his mobile phone and camera on a bus.
He also received an eight-month sentence for burglary, committed only days before the machete attack.
The judge said: “You decided, together with others, you would teach Mr Irshad a lesson he wound never forget and indeed you did that.
“He will never forget what you did to him. Not only were the injuries life threatening, they are life changing.
“His life has changed forever, he was due to get married, due to complete a computer course, he was outgoing, friendly and confident.
“All that has gone as a result of the attack you carried out on him.”
Giving evidence during the trial Mr Irshad said he caught a glimpse of his masked attacker for five to ten seconds before he was assaulted. “It’s a face I will never forget,” he said.
Safwaan Patel was sentenced to four months jail, suspended for two years, and ordered to perform 180 hours of unpaid work for the drugs offences.
He was cleared of involvement in the attack on Fawad Irshad after he insisted he was only in the area to do a cannabis deal.