PC stopped in terror then collapsed on the floor – how fatal armed robbery unfolded

By John Mercury April 5, 2024

PC Sharon Beshenivsky had only been a police officer for nine months when she responded to an alarm call at a travel agent in Bradford on the afternoon of 18 November 2005.

“[We] didn’t have a chance,” said her colleague PC Teresa Milburn, then 37, who was a few steps behind as they arrived unarmed at Universal Express in Morley Street.

PC Beshenivsky, 38, “stopped in terror” when she saw the gunman as she approached the door and was shot in the chest at point blank range before collapsing to the floor with an immediately fatal injury.

The robber then pointed his gun at PC Milburn, who “felt immense pain and knew straight away I had been shot”, she said. “The force of the second shot spun me round. The force was unbelievable.”

She managed to radio for help as she was lying on the pavement in “extreme pain” and coughing up blood, but the ambulance arrived too late to save her colleague.

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What happened to Sharon Beshenivsky?

West Yorkshire Police officer PC Beshenivsky was the seventh serving female officer ever to be killed in the line of duty in Britain when she was shot dead on her daughter Lydia’s fourth birthday, leaving behind her husband Paul, three children and two stepchildren.

WPC Teresa Milburn and Paul Beshenivsky, husband of the late WPC Sharon Beshenivsky, during a memorial service for the officer in Bradford. Pic: PA
PC Milburn and Paul Beshenivsky during a memorial service for the officer in Bradford. Pic: PA

The nation came to a standstill for her funeral, with hundreds of officers lining the route of the cortege.

The mastermind of the armed robbery, Piran Ditta Khan, 75, flew to Pakistan three months after PC Beshenivsky’s death, where he remained free until he was arrested by the Pakistani authorities in January 2020 and extradited to the UK last year.

He pleaded guilty to robbery and has now been found guilty of murder, two counts of possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life and two counts of possession of a prohibited weapon after a trial at Leeds Crown Court.

Khan is the seventh and final member of the gang involved in the botched robbery to be convicted.

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Moment Piran Ditta Khan is charged with murder


Known to his accomplices as “Uncle”, Khan had told them they would get between £50,000 and £100,000 as they partied with champagne and vodka at a safe house the night before the raid.

Prosecutors said he had a “pivotal” role in the planning, having previously used Universal Express to send money to his brother in Pakistan.

He did not leave the safety of the Mercedes SLK, said to have been used as a lookout car, as three men, dressed smartly to avoid suspicion, were let into the travel agent through an electronic door.

One carried a laptop bag containing at least one loaded pistol and a machinegun, as well as a large knife and cable intended for tying up staff members, prosecutors said.

They discussed airline tickets before a robber jumped onto the counter holding a gun and those inside were bundled into an office, where they were told to lie on the floor with their hands tied as the robbers demanded money.

Aqeel Yousaf, one of three sons of then owner Mohammad Yousaf heard one of the intruders say: “I don’t think these guys are serious enough – we had better shoot one of them and then they’ll probably give us some money.”

Undated handout photo issued by West Yorkshire Police of Sharon Beshenivsky's patrol car outside Universal Travel agent in Bradford. The jury in the case of five men charged with murdering Pc Sharon Beshenivsky failed to reach a verdict in relation to the robbery charge faced by 25-year-old Raza Ul-Haq Aslam after almost 23 hours and was discharged. Pic: PA
PC Beshenivsky’s patrol car outside Universal Travel agent. Pic: West Yorkshire Police/PA

‘The Feds are here’

Waqas Yousaf, who now owns the business, pressed a panic button during the robbery which led to police being called and Aqeel Yousaf said he heard one of the men saying: “The Feds are here.”

“I heard the metal doors opening. I heard what sounded like a gunshot and I heard a scream,” he said.

“I remember that one shot and then I heard a short time after that almost simultaneous shots being fired.”

Prosecutor Robert Smith said neither of the unarmed officers “presented any effective threat to the three men” when they arrived at the scene.

Teresa Milburn
Teresa Milburn. Pic: Reuters

“The man had no need to shoot us, none whatsoever,” PC Milburn said in a statement.

“If he had waved that gun I would have run off up that road and so would Sharon, but we weren’t given a chance.”

The robbers made off with around £5,400.

Three jailed for murder

Muzzaker Shah and Yusuf Jama, were sentenced to life in prison with minimum terms of 35 years in 2006 for the murder of PC Beshenivsky, robbery and firearms offences.

Shah admitted murder but denied firing the shot which killed PC Beshenivsky, while Jama was convicted of murder after he told the court he shot the officer by accident.

Faisal Razzaq was cleared of murder but found guilty of manslaughter. He was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 11 years.

Yusuf Jama, Mustaf Jama and Muzzaker Shah
(From left) Yusuf Jama, Mustaf Jama and Muzzaker Shah. Pic: West Yorkshire Police/PA

A year later, in 2007, his brother Hassan Razzaq, was also convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Raza ul Haq Aslam, then 26, who had acted as a lookout, was jailed for eight years after he was found guilty of robbery.

Mustaf Jama, the brother of Yusuf Jama, was extradited from Somalia in 2007 and found guilty of murder. He was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum term of 35 years.


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