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Three Asian men have been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of a 23-year-old black IT worker during riots in Birmingham.
Isaiah Young-Sam was trying to avoid the rioting in Lozells last October, when he was stabbed in the heart.
Waqar Ahmed, 26, Azhil Khan, 23, and Afzal Khan, 22, from Handsworth, had denied murder. They were told they would serve a minimum of 25 years.
The judge said Isaiah was killed for no other reason than his skin colour.
Passing sentence, Mr Justice Mackay said: “The four men (Isaiah, his brother and two friends) were set upon because they were Afro-Caribbean and for no other reason.
“They had done nothing to these defendants and done nothing to incur or justify hostility.
“What led to the death of Isaiah Young-Sam was the colour of his skin.”
The defendants were fuelled by the mob violence which they could have resisted, he added.
Isaiah’s mother, Murna McLean, described his killers as “animals”.
There were cries of “they’re innocent” from the public gallery as the jury returned its unanimous verdict on Monday.
Mr Justice McKay warned members of the defendants’ families they would be asked to leave if they continued to call out.
The court heard how two or three cars pulled up in front of the victim and his friends as they made their way through back streets of Lozells.
A group of men wearing hoodies and bandanas got out and chased them. Mr Young-Sam, a computer analyst for Birmingham City Council, fell behind and was attacked.
The defendants were also convicted, and given 10 years to run concurrently, for attacking Mr Young-Sam’s friend, Locksley Byfield, who suffered a non life-threatening stab wound to the backside in the incident which took place during the evening of 22 October, 2005.
The jury was told how the defendants went to Huddersfield just hours after the attack and returned to Birmingham the next day where they booked one-way tickets to Pakistan.
They were stopped in Dubai en route to Pakistan and returned to Britain where they were arrested.
They claimed a fourth man, who cannot be named, wielded the knife which killed Mr Young-Sam.
In mitigation, their defence barristers said they were men of previous good character who got caught up in the contagious atmosphere of escalating community tensions.
Kavina Young-Sam, 22, Isaiah’s sister, said her brother was a kind, fun-loving, humble and respectful young man who always gave off a pleasant vibe.
She said: “His interests included going to the gym, leisure time on his computer and listening to music.
“One of his more serious interests was in his Bible, which had a big impact on how he lived his life and how he dealt with others in such a fair and positive manner.”
She added: “My parents, my brother and myself will never come to terms with the vicious attack and murder of Isaiah and cannot understand how people could take the life of such an innocent young man.”
The disturbances in Lozells, said to be the worst in the area for 20 years, were thought to have been sparked by rumours alleging a West Indian girl had been raped by a gang of Asian men.
Police, who made appeals for the alleged victim to come forward, later said there was no evidence to suggest any rape had occurred.
Det Ch Insp Matthew Ward, who has led the investigation into Mr Young-Sam’s murder said the inquiry was still ongoing.
Ten people had been arrested so far and officers are still looking into the circumstances of his stabbing.
Police are also continuing their investigations into the riot as a whole.
Meanwhile, the chief executive of Birmingham’s Race Equality and Community Cohesion Council Dr Derrick Campbell says tensions still exist in Lozells.
He said: “We have seen a very sophisticated way of operating by the Asian community who have got their act together, mobilised themselves, have established their businesses and they have done quite well.
“The black community particularly feel that they have been re-colonised by the Asian community.”
(Posted on May 23, 2006)