Five men face spending decades behind bars today after police discovered a chilling arsenal of firearms and ammunition assembled as part of an explosive feud between two rival groups.
Zeeshan Azad Khan, 33, his brother David Pemberton, 37, Christopher Chung, 30, and Robert Parran, 34, will all be sentenced at Leeds Crown Court having pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess firearms with intent to endanger life and a second charge of conspiracy to possess ammunition with intent to endanger life.
Jason Crompton, 39, has pleaded guilty to possession of a prohibited weapon and possession of a firearm without a certificate.
The men were arrested in November 2011 when officers from West Yorkshire Police and Merseyside Police raided addresses in Bradford and Liverpool.
Opening the case yesterday, prosecutor Richard Wright said it arose out of a dispute between one group based in Bradford – Khan and Pemberton who are involved in a restaurant there called the Saffron Desi – and another group that included the brothers Arfan and Kamran Ijaz and a man called Mohammed Nisar Khan known as “Meggy”.
He said there had been several incidents prior to Pemberton and Crompton being found in a Transit-style van by armed police on January 27. Inside, barely hidden by a carpet, they found a sub-machine gun with silencer and magazines, a rifle with a telescopic sight and a pump action shotgun.
Parran is currently serving 15 years and six months for firearms and drug offences. He was arrested after two properties in Liverpool were searched in April last year and weapons, ammunition drugs and cash were found.
Mr Wright said: “This was a deliberate and planned decision to arm themselves with live ammunition for which money was paid. That could only serve to escalate not calm the dispute.”
He added that in police interviews Khan of Kismet Gardens, Bradford, had sought to play down the feud. He admitted he had travelled to Liverpool on January 27 but claimed he had gone to eat out.
Chung of Liverpool, who has already served a number of lengthy prison sentences, declined to answer any questions while Crompton of Rooks Avenue, Bradford, admitted the van was his.
In later interviews, however, he blamed Pemberton of Belmont Avenue, Bradford, for his predicament and text messages from his girlfriend read out in court accused him of being a “dogsbody” and a “mug”.
Richard Mansell, QC, representing Khan, said Meggy was an “extremely serious criminal who had led a “charmed life”.
He said the reality was that regarding Zeeshan Khan and his father – “this was not a feud between warring families – they (the Khans) were victims and the victimised.”
Mr Mansell told the court that Khan had intended to head for Birmingham but the Ijaz brothers found out where they were going and told them they had “people waiting for them,”, so instead they went to Liverpool.
He said Khan had been married three times and had children with all his wives. “Leaving Bradford and making a fresh start was not an option. They knew the police would be powerless to give them protection. They couldn’t watch their backs all the time.”
He said there had been a “very ugly scene” outside a car wash in Bradford and afterwards “they did feel that they were left with little or no alternative”.
He added they “had not thought through what they were going to do with these guns. He regrets it bitterly and the shame he has brought on his family.
“The reason that he felt unable to tell the truth in police interview was that by naming Meggy and others and accusing them of extortion would reignite the trouble. The trouble had died down.
“He continued to deny involvement in the purchase of these guns. He has now come entirely clean as to what his role was. He is genuinely remorseful of the fact that he involved others.”