Men convicted of trying to bribe jurors in manslaughter trial

Two men have been found guilty of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice after jurors in a manslaughter trial were offered cash to fix their verdicts.

Shahrear Islam-Miah and Abdilahi Ahmed were both convicted by a jury at Leeds Crown Court on Tuesday afternoon.

A third defendant, Haroon Sharif, was cleared of the same charge.

Islam-Miah and Ahmed will be sentenced later this week along with five other men who admitted the conspiracy at a previous hearing.

This trial follows another which was abandoned in February in extremely unusual circumstances with a judge, Mr Justice Goss, continuing to reach verdicts without a jury.

The February trial involved a so-called "cash for crash" scam which left an 88-year-old woman, Betty Laird, dead.

Mrs Laird died from injuries she sustained in the collision in Beeston, Leeds, in 2014, which was planned in an attempt get money from insurers.

In the jury-bribery trial, which started last month, the jury heard how a teenage girl w ho offered jurors in the manslaughter trial £500 to fix their verdicts "got her words wrong", telling them to find the defendants guilty.

The 15-year-old girl was one of three people who tried to bribe jurors outside Leeds Crown Court on February 21.

The day before this, prosecutors said, another conspirator, Waqas Ahmad, set off the fire alarm in the court canteen, triggering an evacuation.

Two of those involved in the conspiracy prosecution were defendants in the original trial - Islam-Miah and Raja Hussain.

Islam-Miah, 27, of no fixed address, denied conspiracy to pervert the course of justice along with Ahmed, 27, of Lincoln Towers, Leeds, and Sharif, of Burnside, Hale Barn, Altrincham.

Raja Hussain, 31, also of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to the same offence along with four other men.

These are: Jonaade Hussain, 27, of Ring Road, Leeds; Zafarullah Ahmad, 21, of Hamilton Avenue, Leeds; Waqas Ahmad, 26, of Hamilton Avenue, Leeds; and Jamie Lee Lawson, 28, of Bayswater Grove, Leeds.

The jury was told the prosecution of the 15-year-old girl was dropped after psychological testing showed she had the intellectual capacity of a child aged around eight or nine years old.

All seven men will be sentenced over two days, starting on Thursday, by Judge Tom Bayliss QC.

Judge Bayliss told the court on Tuesday: "This is a very serious matter."

He told the jury: "This has been a very unusual trial because a jury having to make decision about what's happened to another jury is quite an unusual situation to be in.

"I hope you've found it interesting. It's been a fascinating trial for me."

Following the trial in February, Sabir Hussain, Raja Hussain and Mohammed Ubaidullah were jailed by the judge for Mrs Laird's manslaughter and conspiracy to commit fraud.

Islam-Miah was also jailed for conspiracy to commit fraud after being cleared of the manslaughter charge.

They received sentences totalling 37-and-a-half years for the offences.

Julian Briggs, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said: " This was a cynical and blatant attempt to pervert the course of justice which was foiled by the commendably swift action of the jurors who had been targeted.

"Attempts to undermine the true course of justice will be dealt with severely."

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