A JUDGE jailed two sisters who tried to influence a jury member at their brother’s murder trial at Leeds Crown after saying they had tried to undermine a “cornerstone” of the judicial system.
Law graduate Masooma Khan, 33, and her sister Sakina Khan, 34, were each jailed for 18 months after admitting perverting the course of justice.
The sisters had had been at Leeds Crown Court last February when their brother Naseer Khan was standing trial for the shooting murder of 21-year-old Pawel Matras during a cannabis deal at Blue Hill Crescent, Wortley, Leeds.
The court heard around two weeks into the trial, a male juror had made his usual journey from court to Leeds train station to travel to Wakefield at the end of the court day.
Prosecutor, Michael Collins said the Khan sisters had been at court that day but were later identified on CCTV at Leeds train station wearing different clothes.
Mr Collins said the two women had changed into full hijabs which covered their faces and bodies, adding: “They were in disguise. They followed (the juror) on to the train and stood close by him.”
The court heard the two women followed the juror out of the train station at Wakefield and into the city.
Mr Collins said: “He was approached by the two defendants. One said to him ‘we want to speak to you but we are scared.’ One asked if he wanted her to take the hijab off. One said ‘we want to talk to you about the trial and Naseer.’”
Mr Collins said the juror refused to speak to them and informed staff at Leeds Crown Court what had happened the next day.
The juror was discharged from the jury and the sisters were arrested.
Mr Collins said police seized Masooma Khan’s mobile phone and discovered a text conversation with a cousin or family member who was responding to her plea for help with the trial.
Mr Collins said: “The contact claims he has a connection to someone who can bribe judges.”
Masooma Khan, of Queens Crescent, Camden, London and Sakina Khan, of The Avenue, Bronbsbury Park, London, both admitted perverting the course of justice.
Kate Bissett, mitigating for Masooma Khan, said her client is a law graduate, adding: “It is her own fault. She accepts that she has entirely thrown her life away.”
Mohammed Bashir, mitigating for Sakina Khan, said: “This juror was able to go back the next day and say what happened with no fear on his part.”
Handing both sisters 18-month jail sentences, Judge Tom Bayliss QC told them: “This was a determined attempt to influence a juror in a murder trial.
“It wasn’t borne out of naivety, you targeted the juror. You thought because of his ethnicity you might find a sympathetic ear. The consequences to the administration of justice was immense. Had you succeeded you would have secured the acquittal of your brother, a man guilty of murder.”
Judge Bayliss added: “The jury system is a cornerstone of a judicial system. Those who sit on juries undertake a duty on behalf of the public.”
After the sentencing hearing, Detective Inspector Seth Robinson, of West Yorkshire Police’s Homicide and Major Enquiry Team, said: “This was a deliberate and sustained attempt by these women to interfere with the criminal justice process during a murder trial. As the judge has highlighted, behaviour such as theirs can strike at the very heart of the justice system and simply cannot be tolerated.
“We hope the significant custodial sentences they have received, despite their previous good character, will serve as a stark reminder to others of the serious penalties such behaviour will attract.”
The Khan sisters’ brother Naseer Khan and accomplice Abdullah Ullah were jailed for life after being convicted of murder by the jury a Leeds Crown Court last February
Pawel Matras was killed and his brother, Zedislaw, 32, was seriously injured after being shot in the stomach during a cannabis deal in Leeds on November 8, 2013.
Naseer Khan, of Queens Crescent, London, fired the fatal shot with a semi-automatic handgun.
Khan and Ullah, of High Road, Harrow, had driven to the property to rob the brothers of cannabis.
The Matras brothers, both Polish nationals, rented the house and had grown about £10,000 of cannabis which they wanted to sell.