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Home   Medway   News   Article

Harjit Chaggar murder trial: Guilty verdicts after Chatham pensioner found dead in basement of Sani Globe store in Luton

08 May 2014
by Lizzie Massey
Two men have today been convicted of brutally murdering Chatham pensioner Harjit Chaggar, whose body was dumped in a shop basement.
 
The 69-year-old was discovered in the Sani Globe food store 12 days after she went missing - having bled to death for up to six hours with devastating injuries.
 
Shop workers Mohammed Islam, 28, and 38-year-old Murshed Miah have been convicted of murdering the retired machinist this afternoon following an eight-week trial at Canterbury Crown Court and more than 21 hours of deliberations.
Loving grandmother Harjit Chaggar was found dead in a Chatham shop cellar

Loving grandmother Harjit Chaggar was found dead in a Chatham shop cellar

 
The pair were also found guilty of preventing Mrs Chaggar's lawful burial or cremation along with their boss Abdul Hannan, 44, and another shop worker, 27-year-old Rasad Miah.
 
The jury failed to reach a murder verdict for Hannan and the judge directed jurors to return a not guilty verdict. The Crown Prosecution Service said it will not seek a retrial.
 
All four defendants were remanded in custody and will be sentenced on Tuesday, May 20.
 
Murshed Miah, of Wheeler Street, Maidstone; Islam, 28, of Windmill Road, Gillingham; Hannan, 44, of Aldon Close, Maidstone and Rasad Miah, 27, of Otway Street, Chatham, denied the charges against them.
 
Defendants shook and hung their heads as the verdicts were read out.
 
Before being taken down to the cells, Hannan shouted from the dock: "You've put four people in jail."
 
And a woman from the public gallery shouted: "This is not just, my husband is innocent" before running out of the courtroom. 
Defendants Murshed Miah, Abdul Hannan, Rasas Miah and Mohammed Liakat Islam

Defendants Murshed Miah, Abdul Hannan, Rasad Miah and Mohammed Liakat Islam

Following the verdicts, Mrs Chaggar's son Kuldish Chaggar said: "We're thankful the jury has come back with these verdicts.
 
"No matter what the verdicts, it doesn't bring mum back - we've just got to be grateful that we can now put this matter to rest.

"Although we will never get over what's happened, we now have a chance to try and move on.

"Throughout we've never known the reason why, and three of them chose not to give evidence. None of them told us why, they've all denied it.

"No matter what the verdicts, it doesn't bring mum back - we've just got to be grateful that we can now put this matter to rest..." - Kuldish Chaggar

"It's only through the painstaking work of the police and forensics, and the legal team we've come to this excellent result.

"We'd just like to say thank you to the jurors, the judge, our legal team, the police, the witness service people, and the Canterbury Crown Court staff, who have all been excellent to us as well.

"And to the media for highlighting our plight when mum went missing and dealing with all the police requests and appeals that they have done.

"It's still very raw and very painful for us to deal with this, you know it's not a happy day at all.

"At the end of the day were trying to find some justice for my mum and we found two of the killers who committed this horrible crime."

Harjit Chaggar's grieving son Kuldish

Harjit Chaggar's grieving son Kuldish

Judge Adele Williams thanked the jurors for their service and gave them exemption for life for serving on a jury again. 

She said: "I'd like to pay tribute to the Chaggar family for their courage and their dignity throughout this trial, which was quite amazing to see.
 
"They have sat thorough what must have been for them very harrowing experience. They have maintained their absolute dignity throughout."
A CCTV image of Harjit Chagger in Luton High Street before she vanished

A CCTV image of Harjit Chagger in Luton High Street before she vanished

Mrs Chaggar, of Hillside Road, was discovered at the store on September 14 last year after vanishing on Monday, September 2.

Her decomposing body was found in the basement of the Sani Globe food store, now known as Chatham Food Centre, in Luton Road with severe head and chest injuries.
 
It is believed the retired machinist lay in the basement for up to six hours before she died. 
 

Scroll down for video

Police outside the Luton shop where Harjit Chaggar's body was found

Police outside the Luton shop where Harjit Chaggar's body was found

 
Widow Mrs Chaggar had been planning a trip to India to visit relatives before she disappeared while out shopping after visiting her doctor's surgery to pick up a prescription.
 
The jury had been told she had been assaulted and bled to death in the basement store room of the shop after being thrown through a hatch while still alive. 
 
Bobbie Cheema QC, prosecuting, said: "Her killers showed her no mercy and she died there alone."
 
Ms Cheema told the jury none of the accused, who all worked in the store, had offered any explanation of how Ms Chaggar died or how her body came to be under the floorboards.
 
A handbag and some jewellery belonging to Ms Chaggar has never been found. 
Harjit Chaggar was found dead in a shop in Chatham

Harjit Chaggar was found dead in a shop in Chatham

Ms Cheema said Mrs Chaggar visited the shop on the afternoon she disappeared and was caught on CCTV.
 
A short while later - after having left the store - she was seen entering the back of the shop after having been beckoned in by a man.
 
The prosecutor told the jury: "She was rendered unable to leave and never seen again.
 
"She must have been held there against her will and thrown in the void under the floor. She did not fall in there by herself and did not cover herself up."
 
 
 
Video: Police reaction to murder verdicts in Harjit Chaggar trial
 
The jury was told of the devastating injuries Mrs Chaggar suffered before she died, including a significant injury to the left side of her head, a v-shaped cut that would have bled and was likely to have been inflicted with a weapon.
 
Ms Cheema said there was bruising to the front and top of her head caused by blows when she was still alive.

Police: 'We might never know why Harjit Chaggar was murdered'


However, the worst injury was a severed spinal cord and other injuries which, according to a pathologist's report, were usually associated with serious road crash or falls from a great height.
 
Ms Cheema also told the jury: "She sustained all her injuries before death and survived for up to six hours before she died."
A cordon outside Sani Globe food store in Luton Road

A cordon outside Sani Globe food store in Luton Road

In the days Mrs Chaggar was missing, her family made repeated efforts to try to find her -visiting the Sani Globe and other shops.
 
On September 13, the day before her body was found, the family filmed an appeal near the shop to try to find out what had happened to her.
 
Ms Cheema told the jury: "At no point did any of the defendants give any indication to the police that they knew anything about her disappearance."

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