Express & Star

Man gets 15-year jail sentence for manslaughter in planned shooting of Dudley taxi boss

A man has been jailed for killing a Dudley taxi firm manager in an escalating ‘tit-for-tat’ dispute between two rival groups.

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Choudhary Akeel Hussain (left) and Mohamad Rafiq. Photos: West Midlands Police

There was no evidence that victim Mohammed Haroon Zeb, known as Haroon or ‘H’, was involved in any of the wrongdoing, but he was shot in the head on his 39th birthday in a drive-by attack outside his home in the Queens Cross area of Dudley on January 31, 2021.

He was taken to hospital, but was pronounced dead.

Choudhary Akeel Hussain, now 23, was convicted by a jury of Mr Zeb's manslaughter and his co-accused Mohamad Umar Rafiq, now 22, was convicted of perverting the course of justice relating to disposal of a VW Golf used by others in the shooting. The convictions came after a two-month trial at Wolverhampton Crown Court that ended in November.

Sentencing Hussain and Rafiq on Friday, trial judge Michael Chambers KC said the murder had been "tit-for-tat" resulting in a "climate of fear in Dudley".

Mohammed Haroon Zeb was shot in the head outside of his own home in a drive by shooting

The judge said: "Mohammed Haroon Zeb died, in my judgement, as a result of a clearly planned so-called drive-by shooting at about 12.35am on January 21, 2021. Hassan Tasleem used revolver and live ammunition to shoot at him four times while Gurdeep Sandhu drove the Golf car at reduced speed past Mohammed Haroon Zeb who had just parked on the drive at his home.

"The first shot struck his skull, instantly killing him. Other shots were aimed at him, but struck his vehicle.

"You, Mohamad Umar Rafiq, were convicted of assisting in the disposal of that Golf. You, Choudhary Akeel Hussain, were convicted of the unlawful act of manslaughter. I do honour the verdict of the jury, but I am entitled to form my own view of the evidence," Judge Chambers said.

He said the victim was a "soft target" and was attacked in an effort to "frighten him" due to his family links to a rival group and while text messages showed he had disapproved of the escalating issues between the parties, he had no involvement in any of the incidents.

Choudhary Akeel Hussain, who has been convicted of manslaughter for the killing of Mohammed Haroon Zeb

Hussain, who had been on bail following a previous incident of disorder, was not present at the scene of the shooting, but phone records showed he had been in contact with Tasleem and Sandhu in the days leading up to and after the attack. The judge said he did not consider Hussain a danger to the public.

For manslaughter Hussain, of Brook Street, was jailed for 15 years minus time in custody, and for perverting the course of justice Mohamad Umar Rafiq, of Gammage Street, was jailed for four years relating to the disposal of the car in a Wolverhampton car park the following day.

Mohamad Rafiq. Photo: West Midlands Police

The Golf was later collected by others and taken to Telford where it was pulled over by chance by West Mercia Police officers on routine patrol last year, with a different colour false number plates.

Hassan Tasleem, 25, of Richmond Road, Dudley and Gurdeep Sandhu, 25, of Blower's Green Road, Dudley were both found guilty of murdering the father-of-four in unanimous verdicts, after a trial held at Leicester Court sitting at Loughborough in February.

Both were also found guilty of possessing a firearm with intent to endanger life and perverting the course of justice.