Dale Jones, aged 30, of East Bawtry Road, Rotherham, will serve a minimum sentence of 32 years in jail for the racially-aggravated murder of Mushin Ahmed last August.
Jones’ accomplice Damien Hunt, 30, of Doncaster Road, Rotherham, was given 14 years in jail at Sheffield Crown Court this afternoon after being cleared of murder but found guilty of manslaughter by a majority verdict.
Judge Mr Justice Males said Jones was a ‘racist thug’ who had never shown ‘the slightest remorse for the suffering you have caused to Mr Ahmed and his family’.
He said: “It is a shocking thing in modern Britain that a man should be attacked and beaten and kicked to death just because of the colour of his skin, but there is no doubt that this is what Mr Ahmed suffered.”
Mr Ahmed had been in traditional dress and walking to early-morning prayers at his local mosque when the pair attacked him at around 3.20am on August 10 last year.
Jones had followed Mr Ahmed on Doncaster Road repeatedly calling him a ‘groomer’ before him and Hunt launched into their attack on the helpless pensioner near a bus stop on Fitzwilliam Road.
The court heard evidence Hunt had first punched Mr Ahmed to the ground before Jones began kicking and stamping on the elderly man.
There were at least three ‘really heavy stamps’ on Mr Ahmed’s face in the sustained and brutal attack.
Jones and Hunt left the scene together, leaving a bloodied but still conscious Mr Ahmed lying on the ground in agony.
The pensioner was only found by a passer-by two hours later - by which time his attackers had attempted to hide the evidence of their crime by washing their clothes and shoes and Hunt had gone fishing to ‘keep out of the way’ of police.
Mr Ahmed, who had lived at the same address in East Dene with his wife Margaret for 47 years, died in hospital 11 days later after suffering fractures to his face and eye socket and sustaining brain damage as a result of the assault.
It was the prosecution’s case that both men had participated in the kicking and stamping on Mr Ahmed, with the Adidas trainers worn by Jones matching the stamp injury pattern on the pensioner’s face.
There was also DNA evidence against Hunt, whose DNA was found on the broken dentures of Mr Ahmed after he punched the OAP in the face, cutting his own knuckles in the process.
CCTV footage conclusively proved both men were at the scene - leading both to base their defence cases on accepting they had been there but the other man was solely responsible for the attack.
Jones was the main protagonist in the attack after getting himself into a ‘raging fury’ following hours of drink and drug-taking that had begun the previous day.
Both Jones and Hunt had been drinking Sambuca and taking cocaine prior to the attack.
Detective Chief Inspector Victoria Short, the senior investigating officer for this case, said: “This brutal and unprovoked assault sent shockwaves through the local community, where Mr Ahmed was well-liked and highly regarded.
“His family and friends have been left absolutely devastated by his death yet they have conducted themselves admirably and with tremendous strength throughout our inquiry, which should be commended.
“Mr Ahmed suffered horrific injuries at the hands of Jones and Hunt. Jones in his anger stamped on Mr Ahmed’s head so hard that we were able to recover a shoe print from his skin – this extreme violence is nothing short of sickening and highlights just how dangerous these individuals are.
“The pair refused to take responsibility for their crime, putting Mr Ahmed’s family through the further distress of a court trial where they had to hear in detail what happened to their loved one. This family have demonstrated exceptional strength and dignity while listening to shocking evidence.
“Hunt and Jones have never given an explanation for their own vicious actions that evening, but the court heard how Mr Ahmed was assaulted because of the colour of his skin, a fact that is as disturbing as it is despicable.
“To cause harm to another human being because of their race, ethnicity, or religious belief is simply beyond reproach, I will never understand how anybody can treat another person in such a callous and inhumane manner.”
DCI Short added: “While a successful conviction can never bring back their loved one, I hope Mr Ahmed’s family and friends find some closure as a result of today’s hearing.
“Officers and staff have worked tirelessly on this investigation to bring it before the courts, as well as working closely with the local community and Mr Ahmed’s family in Rotherham to provide support and reassurance during a very difficult period.
“I would therefore like to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved for their professionalism and dedication.”