Halloween mask raider jailed for three ‘terrifying’ house raids

Hafeez Raja
Hafeez Raja
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A MASKED raider who carried out a terrifying Halloween burglary on the home of a Bradford woman has been jailed for 13 years.

Hafeez Raja, 21, was connected to the attack after his DNA was found on a red Halloween mask that was left at the scene of the attack last year.

While on bail, Raja went on to commit two similar aggravated burglaries at family homes in one night in February this year.

Bradford Crown Court heard today how victim Shabana Khaliq was on her own at her Clayton Road when she spotted people outside her house on CCTV equipment.

Prosecutor Jonathan Sharp said Mrs Khaliq thought the three men at her rear door were “trick or treaters” and she answered the door with crisps and cake.

During a struggle with the three masked raiders, Mrs Khaliq had a hand put over her mouth and she was dragged into the kitchen where one of the intruders sat on top of her pinning her to the ground.

The men demanded gold and money and after she removed her gold earrings a gold ring was pulled off her finger.

Mr Sharp said the terrified complainant thought she was going to be murdered as she was threatened with a hammer and a screwdriver.

The gang eventually fled in a van with about £650 worth of jewellery and a mobile phone, but Raja left behind the Halloween mask.

All three aggravated burglaries targeted Asian households in the hope of getting gold jewellery and the level of violence used towards female occupants was exceptional, Mr Sharp said.

In February, the gang targeted two more homes in Weetwood Road and Haworth Road, Bradford, within the space of two hours.

During the tea-time attack in Weetwood Road the gang of males went into the house through an unlocked door and began ransacking the property upstairs.

When they became aware that Faiza Arif was in the house they armed themselves with knives and began to demand gold from her.

Mr Sharp said her mother, Nusrat Rani, was also threatened by the gang when she returned to the house and there was even a threat made to kill a young girl who was also present.

The gang eventually left with about £6,000 worth of jewellery, but they then attacked the house in Haworth Road kicking in a side door to gain entry.

During that burglary Halima Tariq and her 79-year-old grandmother Zakia Begum were subjected to threats as the gang members demanded gold from them. Mrs Begum died six weeks after the burglary.

One of the intruders was carrying a knife and the terrified women were told: “If you value your life just do as we say.”

The gang fled the scene in stolen Volvo bearing false registration plates, but the vehicle crashed near to the Bradford Royal Infirmary and the gang scattered.

Raja, formerly of Waverley Road, Great Horton, Bradford, was spotted on CCTV in the area and his DNA was later found on a discarded water bottle in the Volvo.

Raja, who had previous convictions for house burglary, pleaded guilty to the three aggravated burglary charges.

Mitigating, Yunus Valli said his Raja had been on remand for several months and wanted to say sorry for what he had done.

Judge Colin Burn said the burglaries were not committed by stealth, but by the use of “terrifying force” and it was beyond coincidence that the occupants had been women and children.

During his sentencing remarks, the judge noted that Mrs Begum had died about six weeks after the burglary and although he said he was not sentencing Raja on the basis of any link between the two her last six weeks would have been a misery as a result of the break-in.

“It is a catalogue of offending which puts it undoubtedly into the most serious category of aggravated burglary,” the judge told Raja.

Speaking after the hearing, DI Ryan Bragg, of Bradford District CID: “Raja threatened his victims and used violence against them in what were terrifying raids on people’s homes.

“We are pleased with the sentence he has received and hope it will serve as a warning to others that violent crime will not be tolerated in Bradford District.”