'Utterly evil' pair of robbers get 27 years each for vicious raids on homes

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Najeeb Aslam Najeeb Aslam

Two “utterly evil” robbers, who targeted vulnerable women, toddlers and the elderly in “chilling” raids at their homes, have been locked up for more than 40 years.

In two shocking cases, a married mother and a 16-year-old boy were stripped and photographed naked, before the robbers tried to blackmail their families.

During the series of incidents in Bradford, replica guns were pointed at the heads of women and children, and threats were made to kill, burn down a house and throw a baby out of a window, the city’s Crown Court heard yesterday.

Sentencing 21-year-old Hasnain Raja, and Najeeb Aslam, 28, each to 22 years imprisonment with a five-year extended licence, Judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC told them: “It was evil, utterly evil, and that’s what you are.”

The judge said they showed no mercy and the threats they made to their victims were “chilling, terrifying and callous”. Some of their acts and threats were “gratuitous and vindictive,” he added.

Judge Durham Hall continued: “You preyed deliberately on the most decent examples of a very decent community.

“You caused terror and shame and desperate fear in each case. Those victims have been hurt for life.”

Raja, of Arncliffe Terrace, Lidget Green, Bradford, and Aslam, of Hudson Crescent, Great Horton, Bradford, pleaded guilty to a total of 11 charges, including robbery, possessing an imitation firearm, blackmail, and attempted burglary, and asked for three further offences to be taken into consideration.

Prosecutor David Gordon told how the first robbery took place on November 4 last year at the Bradford home of a woman in her 50s, whose 16-year-old nephew was staying with her.

The defendants, wearing balaclava masks and gloves, got into the boy’s bedroom at 3am. One was holding what appeared to be a handgun and the other a screwdriver.

The boy was punched in the face and demands were made for gold. The intruders kicked open the woman’s bedroom door and the screwdriver was held to her head and threats made to kill her if she did not hand over her jewellery. There were further kicks and punches to the boy’s head, while the gun was brandished.

He was made to strip and lie naked face down, with his wrists and ankles bound, and a sock was put in his mouth. A knife was brought from the kitchen and threats made to cut off his toes. The weapon was held to his face and toes to reinforce the threat.

The woman was also threatened with the knife and the gun held to her temple.

The robbers took the boy’s mobile phone and took photos of him trussed up naked.

The defendants left after 40 minutes but several weeks later the boy received a call on his replacement phone and demands made for £10,000 or the naked photos of him would be posted on the internet.

In Victim Impact Statements the woman said her life had been destroyed and she was living every day in fear and the boy said he would never get over what had ahppened.

Mr Gordon said that 16 days later a couple in their late 60s and poor health were attacked at their home in Barkerend.

A man claiming to be from the water board was allowed entry but a second man came in, wearing a balaclava and holding a firearm. The couple were made to lie on the floor and their wrists and ankles were tied with plastic cable ties.

The house was searched, a gun pointed at their heads and the TV was turned up to muffle sounds. The intruders also stuffed cloths into the victim’s mouths to keep them quiet. They left with jewellery worth £25,000 and cash.

On January 8 this year, three masked men, including both defendants, broke a window to get into the home of a professional couple in Heaton, Bradford. They were armed with a crowbar, hammer and what appeared to be a black handgun.

The husband was at work but his wife was at home with their two-year-old daughter and four-month-old son. The men demanded gold and jewellery and threatened to rape and then kill her if she did not comply.

The gun was held to the head of the eldest child and the woman took rings off her fingers and handed them over.

Threats were made to smash the child’s head or throw her out of the window if her mother did not reveal where the valuables were. The child was repeatedly taken from the room.

The mother was ordered to undress, but she was tied up with plastic cables. The men then lowered her jeans and took photos of her naked lower body in front of her children. They took further photos on her own mobile phone after exposing her breasts.

The intruders stole jewellery and other items and told the woman if she told police they would go back and kill her children and the naked photos would be published on the internet.

During the following two weeks phone calls were made to her husband at work and demands made for up to £80,000 not to publish the photos of his wife.

In her Victim Impact Statement, the woman said she had lost her zest for life and the intruders had robbed her of her self respect and dignity.

Nine days after that robbery, another incident took place when a mother and her 15-month-old child were robbed. She was punched in the face three times and trussed up and a towel stuffed in her mouth.

Richard Wright QC, for Raja, conceded the offences were wicked, but said he was a young age, had pleaded guilty and had done what he could to make amends.

Peter Moulson QC, for Aslam, said he had no previous convictions and had pleaded guilty.

But Judge Durham Hall told the defendants: “Had you not been stopped you clearly would have continued because you were obtaining a degree of satisfaction from your offences.”

After the case, Detective Superintendent Scott Wood, of West Yorkshire Police, said: "Raja and Aslam committed a series of crimes which were particularly vicious, upon innocent families in their homes.

"This was a terrifying experience for their victims. All their statements were read out in court and each one told how they had been profoundly affected by the crimes.

"West Yorkshire Police used a range of resources to build an extremely strong case. I hope the lengthy sentences will provide some peace of mind to those people who were attacked."

Also speaking after the sentencing, the husband of the woman photographed naked at their home in Heaton, said justice had been done.

He said: “The sentence is a great deterrent for anyone thinking of going down the same route.

“Nobody should be subjected to that sort of grotesque violence in their home.

“They targeted vulnerable individuals. My wife still hasn’t gone back to work, cannot sleep and has panic attacks.

“This has changed our lives. I hope we will get over it one day.

“The people who did this are despicable. They are monsters. They had no emotion or mercy. They displayed no human emotion, all in the pursuit of money.

“Greed was the only emotion they ever showed.”

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