Killing of Leeds great grandmother for ‘financial greed’ created legal history

Betty Laird.
Betty Laird.

THE ‘callous’ killing of great grandmother Betty Laird on September 10, 2014, started a chain of events leading to a legal saga very rarely seen in the British criminal courts.

A manslaughter trial was held in February this year after the 88-year-old suffered fatal injuries when the Renault Kangoo she was a passenger in was struck on Old Lane, Beeston.

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A VW Passat was driven into the side of the Kangoo in order to make fraudulent injury compensation claims from insurance companies.

Mrs Laird was in the vehicle with her friend Jeff Grimshaw, 77, at the time of the incident.

She suffered multiple injuries in the collision and died later that evening.

Mr Grimshaw died later of causes that could not be proven to have been connected to the collision.

The court heard there was evidence that the men were involved in an organised crime network specialising in making fraudulent crash injury claims.

The attempts to interfere with the jury began on February 20 with the deliberate setting off of the fire alarm on the day Mr Justice Goss summed up the case after the court heard two weeks of evidence.

The following day - after the jury had been sent out to consider verdicts - the approaches were made to jury members as they left the court building for the day.

Mr Justice Goss later took the highly unusual step of dismissing the jury.

He then took advantage of rarely-used legal powers under section 46 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 which allowed him to continue to hear the case without a jury.

Sabbir Hussain, 25, and Raja Hussain were found guilty of manslaughter and conspiracy to commit fraud.

Shahrear Islam-Miah, 26, was found not guilty of manslaughter but guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud.

A fourth man, Muhammed Ubaidullah, 24, pleaded guilty to manslaughter, conspiracy to commit fraud and attempting to pervert the court of justice.

Raja Hussain was jailed for 15 years, Hussain for 12 years, Ubaidullah for six and a half years, and Islam-Miah for four years.

Sentencing the men, Mr Justice Goss said evidence in the case “disclosed that there was a network of people involved in pursuit of fraudulent claims.”

He added: “It was a disturbing but clear picture of concerted fraud.

“These were premeditated offences with a significant degree of planning and sophistication.”

Describing the impact of Mrs Laird’s death on her family, the judge said: “To be killed for reasons of callous, dishonest, financial greed has shocked them and is shocking.

“Her family will have to live with that for the rest of their lives.

“The motive for the collision was purely and simply the pursuit of fraudulent claims.

“Such conduct is clearly reprehensible and calls for a longer sentence.”

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