Cash-strapped gambler jailed for murder

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Killer boasted ‘drinks are on me’ after stabbing man to death for casino cash

A CASH-STRAPPED gambler stabbed a man to death for his casino winnings – then asked friends on a night out boasting “the drinks are on me”.

Mohammed Muqtar followed victim Shaspal Bahra out of a Birmingham city centre casino on 12 May last year having watched him scoop £3,000 in just half an hour.

Shortly after leaving Gala Casino, he repeatedly plunged a knife into the 46-year-old’s side and left him to die on the pavement surrounded by £20 notes.

Later that night he called friends asking if they wanted to party – when one declined as he was short of money Muqtar told him “not to worry” whilst he gloated to another pal that “the drinks are on me”.

However, West Midlands Police detectives tracked the 25-year-old through casino records to an address in Hamstead Road, Handsworth, where he was arrested in the early hours of 17 May. A distinctive checked jacket – which CCTV cameras showed the murderer wearing as he stalked 46-year-old Mr Bahra from the casino – was also recovered from the property.

Muqtar denied murder but at Birmingham Crown Court he was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment; a judge told him he would serve a minimum of 30 years behind bars.

Detective Sergeant Rob Bastin from West Midlands Police was part of the investigation team.

He said: “Witnesses described Muqtar as a frequent gambler who was short of money and was becoming increasingly desperate; he saw Mr Bahra collecting winnings and then ruthlessly and needlessly stabbed him to death. The level of violence he used in order to steal the money was grotesque.

“He showed a breathtaking lack of remorse for his actions – in fact within hours of taking someone’s life was actively looking to spend his victim’s money on a drunken night out and boasting about his new-found wealth.

“Muqtar lied throughout, initially giving false details to arresting officers, and three days after the murder and fearing police were closing in he sent a panicked text to his mother in which he wrote ‘help get me out of the UK’.

“This was a callous murder driven by greed. Mr Bahra was a hard working, law abiding man who was on a night out minding his own business. Our thoughts are with Mr Bahra’s friends and family and hopefully they can take some comfort by the verdict and the fact that the killer will spend much of his life behind bars.”

Security cameras show Mr Bahra – who’d placed his cash winnings inside a jacket pocket – leave Gala Casino just after 11pm followed closely by Muqtar.

After tracking him along Hill Street and into Thorpe Street, near the Hippodrome Theatre, he attacked Mr Bahra dragging him between two parked cars.

A passing cab driver described seeing the pair on the floor and, on hearing Mr Bahra shout “help me, help me”, sounded his horn and Muqtar ran off towards Bristol Street where he caught a taxi near the Etap Hotel.

A post mortem examination revealed Mr Bahra had received multiple stab wounds including one to his heart; he died at the scene despite the best efforts of police officers, paramedics, a nurse and doctor who carried out a medical procedure at the roadside in an attempt to save him.”

DS Bastin, said: “Muqtar offered no comment to all questions in his police interview – but we managed to secure compelling evidence against him, including a vast amount of CCTV footage, painstakingly analysed, which allowed us to plot his movements across the city both before and after the attack.”

Following the verdict, brother Kirpal Singh Bahra said: “First and foremost we would like to thank West Midlands Police for their sheer determination and hard work in catching him without which we would not be here.

“Their continued support has been outstanding and we will be forever grateful. Mohammed Muqtar did not just murder anyone, he murdered a wonderful son, brother, uncle and dear friend.

“He was loved by many and was taken away so meaninglessly and so brutally.”

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