Leading Walsall councillors give character witnesses for barber shop gunman

Leading councillors provided character statements for a gunman who almost killed a man when he shot him in a barber shop, it has emerged.

(L-R) Toyub Ali & Uzair Shahid. Photo: West Midlands Police
(L-R) Toyub Ali & Uzair Shahid. Photo: West Midlands Police

Members, including the Walsall Labour Group leader Aftab Nawaz, provided references for Uzair Shahid, who was jailed on Thursday for 25 and a half years over the attack.

During sentencing, the court heard how several councillors wrote to Judge Simon Ward. One, who was not Councillor Nawaz, asked the judge to be "lenient". The intervention was described as "inappropriate" and "unwise" by Conservative council leader Mike Bird,

Shahid, 21, worked in a supermarket in Walsall and his family was known to councillors in the area.

Councillor Nawaz, who represents the St Matthews ward, described the defendant in his reference statement as a "polite young man" who was "always respectful".

Labour Group leader Aftab Nawaz.

He left 24-year-old Tehmoor Hussain fighting for his life when he fired into his stomach from point-blank range in broad daylight at Katz Kutz barbers on Wolverhampton Road, Walsall, in May 2019. The attack was prompted by a collision between two cars some time earlier.

Detectives said Shahid was part of a gang along with accomplice Toyub Ali, who was sentenced to five and a half years in a young offenders institution.

Mr Hussain was airlifted to hospital and underwent emergency surgery. He said he had suffered psychological trauma following the shooting and that his life had effectively ended that day as he was unable to do anything for himself.

Judge Ward said the character references had not persuaded him to reduced the sentence by a "great deal" but had convinced him to impose a determinate sentence, which will see him released after serving two thirds of his sentence.

The Katz Kutz barber shop

Asked whether his intervention was appropriate given Shahid had almost killed someone, Councillor Nawaz told the Express & Star: "I was asked to give a reference as I know the family. The reference was more about how good the family is, for the family rather than to try to help him.

"The family is very much embedded in the community, they own shops locally.

"They are my constituents. When they approach me I cannot ignore my constituents.

"I don't condone what happened, I condemn it. The family is a good family. Unfortunately, sometimes good families have children who don't behave in a good way."

Councillor Bird said: "If anybody asked me to do that I would say absolutely not. I think it's very unwise to do such a thing.

"A shotgun kills people and anyone who takes it to that extreme deserves to feel the full force of the law."

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