ROSS PARKER TRIAL: Cold-blooded, racist murder

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THREE men were today starting life sentences for the cold-blooded and racist murder of city teenager Ross Parker.

THREE men were today starting life sentences for the cold-blooded and racist murder of city teenager Ross Parker.THREE men were today starting life sentences for the cold-blooded and racist murder of city teenager Ross Parker.

>> THE MURDER THAT SHOCKED A CITY - Read our extended coverage of this tragic story, .

Ahmed Ali Awan (22) who stabbed Ross with a 12-inch hunting knife has been ordered to serve a minimum of 18 years, while Shaied Nazir (22) and Sarfraz Ali (25) have been jailed for a minimum of 16 years each.

As reported in later editions of The Evening Telegraph yesterday, gasps and cries were heard from the public gallery at Northampton Crown Court as the jury of eight men and four women returned unanimous verdicts on the three defendants.

A fourth man Ziaraff Mahrad was found not guilty of murder and manslaughter.

Justice Sir Edwin Jowitt QC told the killers: "Make no mistake, this was a very grave case of murder. You three put your heads together with a purpose of arming yourselves and attacking an innocent man you might find by chance simply because he was of a different race to yourself.

"A racist killing must be one of the gravest kinds of killing."

The court heard that Awan, of Gladstone Street, Peterborough, led the "hunting party".

Together with Nazir, of Cromwell Road, and Ali, of Harris Street, they came across Ross and his girlfriend Nicola Foot walking along a cycle path off Bourges Boulevard at 1.15am.

The pair had just finished working a late shift at the Solstice pub, in Northminster, in the city centre and had failed to get a lift home.

Mrs Foot heard someone say, "better start running" before Nazir sprayed CS gas in Ross's face.

Awan then brutally stabbed Ross three times in the head and shoulder, while Ali rained blows on the teenager with a panel beater's hammer.

Nicola had fled and managed to flag down a passing police car but by the time she and the officer, Pc Kate Brown, returned to the scene just minutes later, Ross had bled to death.

Ross's death sparked one of the biggest police inquiries to ever take place in the city.

Yesterday, as he left court, Detective Chief Inspector Dick Harrison, who led the murder inquiry, said he was "absolutely delighted" with the verdicts.

But his voice broke with emotion as he added: "My first thoughts are with Ross's family Tony, Davinia and Leanne.

"They have not only had to endure the events of the 21st of September last year, but have also had to re-live that terrible experience over the past few weeks.

"The evidence they have heard is something no one should be expected to hear about a loved one. They behaved with quiet, respectful dignity from the outset."

He added: "They are a loving family who have lost a loved son."

Earlier yesterday, there were angry scenes as the three were found guilty.

Nazir's brother, Wyed (18), ran out the court screaming: "My brother's not a murderer."

Later in the day, the jury cleared Ziaraff Mahrad (21), of Cromwell Road, Peterborough.

He ran from the court to a waiting car with a coat over his head.

'Teenager was attacked for being white'

DETECTIVE Chief Inspector Dick Harrison said he always believed the attack on Ross Parker was racially motivated.

But he said none of Ross's killers had ever admitted it during police interviews.

He said: "There is obviously a racially motivated backbone to this, but the prosecution went on the main issues which were that it was a group of four thugs who attacked two undefended individuals who had no other concerns in their lives.

"Ross was attacked because he was a white lad in the area at the time."

He went on: "There are certain suspicions that some of the individuals involved could have felt allegiance to Muslim extremists, but whether that motivated them or not I can't say.

"By all accounts they have been brought up as good members of hard-working Asian families."

DCI Harrison today also praised the city's Asian community for its co-operation in catching the men responsible.

"Some people came forward very quickly but there were others who had vital information who, for a number of reasons, were initially reluctant to impart that information.

"It required tremendous courage on their part to come forward and be counted," he said.

"The Asian community was extremely supportive from the outset of the investigation and displayed a willingness to assist.

"They made it quite clear to us that the community at large wanted no part in protecting those who were responsible for such a heartless, despicable and callous murder.

"I'm very pleased with the way the investigation went and the way the community united behind us.

"But that will be no crumb of comfort for the Parker family and I acknowledge that.

"They have lost a son and nothing that anyone can do can change that.

"My thoughts go out to them and all I can hope is that they can build their lives back to some form of normality."