Gunman has jail term cut

Harminder Jhakra,
Harminder Jhakra,
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A STUDENT who fired pellets at a taxi driver after a disagreement over a fare has had his jail term reduced on appeal.

Harminder Jhakra pulled out an air pistol and shot at cabbie Mohammed Aslam, smashing his car window and wounding him in his right temple, London’s Appeal Court heard.

Jhakra, who was studying for an HND at Sheffield Hallam University, was jailed for six years at Doncaster Crown Court in January.

The 20-year-old, originally from Leeds, who was living on Boston Street, near Sheffield city centre, admitted having an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence and wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

But his sentence has now been cut to four-and-a-half years by Appeal Court judges, who said the original term was too high because of his ‘impeccable good character’.

The court heard Mr Aslam was working on November 5, 2009, when Jhakra asked to be taken to his student accommodation on Boston Street.

When the cab arrived outside the flats, Jhakra said he didn’t have enough money to pay the £4.50 fare and Mr Aslam locked the cab doors.

Jhakra insisted he had money to pay inside the flat and persuaded the cabbie to let him out to get it.

He returned and gave Mr Aslam a £20 note but ‘perceiving’ he wasn’t going to get any change, he pulled the air pistol out of his waistband and fired six or seven shots at him.

Lord Justice Pill told the court the first shot shattered the car’s window and smashed the lens in the driver’s glasses, while the second wounded him in his right temple.

Jhakra then reached in through the broken window and fired the remaining shots. Mr Aslam managed to drive away to hospital, where he was treated for his injury.

The court heard the student had never been in any trouble before and came from a ‘loving and supportive’ family, but was depressed because his mother had lost her job and he had been attacked while out drinking with friends.

He was given a number of positive character references and had a good work record.

Jhakra said he was ‘genuinely remorseful’ but unable to offer any explanation for his behaviour.

His lawyers argued his jail term was excessive, saying the attack - while serious - did not merit six years.

A probation officer said Jhakra has an ‘unselfish attitude’ to fellow inmates in the young offenders’ institution.

Lord Justice Pill said the crown court judge had correctly identified the level of seriousness of the offences, but the sentence was too high given Jhakra’s background and previous good behaviour.