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33 years for Leeds gun killer

West Yorkshire Police supplied picture of Afzal Arif.

West Yorkshire Police supplied picture of Afzal Arif.

A drug dealer who killed a father of two by blasting him in the face in a busy Leeds street must serve a minimum of 33 years in prison.

Afzal Arif, 24, was handed a life sentence yesterday for the murder of Gavin Clarke, 34, in Savile Avenue, Chapeltown, on August 8 last year.

The shooting happened at the height of nationwide rioting and sparked disturbances in the Chapeltown and Harehills areas of the city.

Four other men, friends and family of Arif, were also jailed for conspiracy to pervert the course of justice after helping him cover up the killing by getting rid the weapon and the car he did the shooting from.

Children were playing in the street at the time of the attack and others close to Arif’s car felt the force of the shotgun blast.

The were angry scenes outside Leeds Crown Court following the sentencing as family members of the five defendants and clashed with Mr Clarke’s friends and relatives.

Police officers already present at the hearing had to call for more officers to quell the disturbance.

Jailing Arif, Judge Peter Collier QC told him: “It is clear that at the present time you are a very dangerous person and whilst you remain dangerous you will not be released.”

Referring to the tensions caused by the incident, he said: “It was also a shooting of a black man by an Asian which did lead that night to tensions in the community...Further this was all happening at a time of heightened tension across the country - I remind myself that the weekend of 6th and 7th of August was when London burned and the 8th and 9th the days when rioting and widespread public disorder spread to other cities.

“This event could so easily have sparked very serious rioting in Leeds and it is a tribute to the quality of both the leaders of our local communities and the West Yorkshire Police that the initial reaction to this incident was quickly quelled and further trouble did not develop.”

Arif, of Elford Place, Harehills, gave evidence at the trial, claiming he had only meant to scare Mr Clarke.

The judge said he rejected his account that Mr Clarke had tried to take advantage of the knowledge that he knew Arif was a drug dealer and had demanded £10,000 from him.

He said: “I don’t accept your account of what took place in the lead up to this tragedy is anywhere near the whole truth.

“He (Mr Clarke) was holding down a decent job as a supervisor in the maintenance department of the local authority who thought very highly of him and was about to be promoted to managerial level.”

Those jailed for conspiracy were: Sohail Mahmood, 23, of Savile Road, Chapeltown, sentenced to three and a half years; Bilal Bakhat, 24, of Easterly Road, Leeds, jailed for three years; Saeed Hussain, of Harrogate Road, Leeds, jailed for three years, four months; and Ibrar Din, 24, of Mexborough Street, Chapeltown, jailed for four years.

 
 
 

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