‘Impossible to predict’ rescheduled trial date for man accused of murdering East Ham businessman

Akhtar Javeed. Picture: West Midlands Police

Akhtar Javeed. Picture: West Midlands Police - Credit: West Midlands Police

The trial date for a man accused of killing an East Ham businessman during a warehouse raid is currently impossible to predict, a judge has said.

Akhtar Javeed, 56, was tied up and shot at his catering supplies company in the Digbeth area of Birmingham on February 3, 2016.

Tahir Zarif, from Derby, is alleged to have been involved in the fatal shooting, Birmingham Crown Court heard on Wednesday.

The 29-year-old, who is in custody at HMP Belmarsh, was unable to attend court to discuss the case’s progress in person or over a video-link because of Covid-19 measures in place at the south-east London jail.

During a 40-minute hearing, the Recorder of Birmingham, Judge Melbourne Inman QC, discussed the challenges of listing a possible trial date for later this year with prosecution and defence barristers.

It is estimated the trial will take four weeks, and it had initially been expected to start this month before the coronavirus pandemic hit.

However, the judge said he “cannot predict what will happen in coming weeks”, while Covid-19 restrictions aimed at the safe operation of courts are continuing.

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Judge Inman said the city’s court is currently operating two trials, including a murder case “less complex than this”, which, by itself, is taking up four of the building’s 17 courtrooms in order to accommodate social distancing measures.

He added: “We are, along with all the other courts, actively considering whether or not we can move jurors closer together, protected by screens, which makes some cases slightly easier.

“But it still means we have heavy restrictions on the number of cases we will be able to try whilst social distancing is required.

“I cannot predict where we will be in a month’s time.”

He went on: “Being realistic, it is not simply a question of when we may be in a position to accommodate this type of trial.

“The other difficulty I have is there’s other work listed towards the end of this year, together with a large number of other custody murder cases.

“Trying to find out how we can try them and when is an extraordinarily complex operation.”

The judge adjourned the case for a further preliminary hearing on August 19.