Sharon Beshenivsky: Piran Ditta Khan jailed for life over PC murder

The 75-year-old ringleader of an armed robbery in which a police officer was shot dead almost 20 years ago has been jailed for life for her murder.

Piran Ditta Khan spent nearly two decades evading justice for his part in the killing of PC Sharon Beshenivsky in Bradford on 18 November 2005.

Khan, who was extradited from Pakistan last year, was convicted of murder following a trial at Leeds Crown Court.

He was told he would serve a minimum term of 40 years in prison.

The judge, the Honourable Mr Justice Hilliard, said that PC Beshenivsky's "courage and commitment to her duty that day cost her her life".

He told Khan: "The sentence I pass is no measure of the value of the life that has been lost.

"That's beyond measure and no sentence I pass can put right what you've done wrong."

PC Beshenivsky had been responding to reports of an armed robbery at the Universal Express travel agents on Morley Street in Bradford with her colleague, PC Teresa Milburn, when she was fatally attacked.

The two officers arrived at the scene about 15:30 GMT, but as they approached the entrance, three men burst out of the premises, shooting them both.

PC Milburn was seriously injured.

Khan's trial heard that although he was eating sandwiches in a lookout car when the two officers were shot, he had played a "pivotal" role in planning the raid and knew loaded weapons would be used.

Prosecutors said this made him guilty of the officer's murder "as surely as if he had pulled the trigger himself".

Not long after the officer's killing, Khan fled to Pakistan and remained there until he was arrested by Pakistani authorities in January 2020 and extradited to the UK in 2023.

Passing sentence, the judge said: "You are responsible for the fact that you are being sentenced at the age of 75 and not at a younger age.

"You have had your younger and healthier years at liberty because you chose to leave the country when you feared you were about to be arrested."

Peter Wright, defending, had earlier told the court that due to Khan's age, his "final years, in all probability, are to be spent in custody with the forbidding prospect that he will die there".

Daughter's birthday

During Khan's trial, the court had heard how PC Beshenivsky was discussing her daughter Lydia's family birthday party with PC Milburn when she heard the call for assistance.

In his sentencing remarks, the judge said: "We can say with absolute certainty that her thoughts were with her family very shortly before she died."

Earlier in the hearing, a victim impact statement was read out on behalf of Lydia, who described her mum as a "hero" who "paid the ultimate sacrifice".

"I have been told by others that when I was told my mum had died and was not coming home, I screamed my head off around the house," she added.

Lydia said in her statement that she had a memory of asking "often when her mum was coming home".

She said she also remembered seeing her older brother Paul crying, but not understanding why.

"Since that day and throughout my life there was always been a void, a void that should have been filled by my mum's presence," she said.

"But as a result of your actions - Khan and your associates that day - you robbed me of a future and precious time with my mum."

PC Beshenivsky's children, Lydia and Paul
In a family statement PC Beshenivsky's children, Lydia and Paul, said their lives had been "changed forever" by Khan's actions [BBC]

In a statement read outside court after sentencing, PC Beshenivsky's family said: "18 November 2005 is a date that will remain etched in our memories forever.

"What started as a happy, special day to celebrate Lydia's fourth birthday, was a day that ended in devastating, sad consequences due to the callous actions of Piran Ditta Khan and his associates.

"Since then, 18 November is no longer a birthday celebration - for Lydia and us all - but now a day of remembrance and memorial.

"That was the day the lives of our family and those close to Sharon changed forever. As well as Sharon's friend and colleague Teresa, and her family."

'Forever in our thoughts'

The court had also been told of the impact of the day on PC Milburn, who had since suffered post-traumatic stress disorder.

In her victim impact statement, she said: "I've never grieved for anyone as I have for Sharon. It has taken over my life."

Speaking after Khan's sentencing, ACC Patrick Twiggs of West Yorkshire Police said: "Two mums set out to work that day - two ordinary people doing extraordinary work for the public. One didn't return home and one didn't return home in the same way.

"All those years ago we made a promise to hunt down every last member of this gang and today we achieved that.

"West Yorkshire Police will continue to honour Sharon's memory, we still mourn the loss, we still miss her, she will be forever in our thoughts."

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