Murder accused ‘never meant to kill’ jury told

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A MAN accused of murdering a takeaway worker in a fatal stabbing told a jury he ‘never’ intended to kill - and that his victim’s death happened during a botched robbery.

Hassan Maruf, aged 20, allegedly murdered 30-year-old Zabihullah Rafiq in a ‘carefully planned’ masked attack outside his home on Callow Mount, Gleadless.

Maruf told Sheffield Crown Court he and accomplice Shaffiq Habibi plotted to rob Mr Rafiq of £700 in takings which he had brought back from a shift at Pizza Pronto, on Glossop Road, last May.

He said Habibi - who is believed to have returned to his home country of Afghanistan - took the knife only to ‘scare’ Mr Rafiq, but used the blade when he tried to stop the robbery.

Maruf told the jury Habibi had worked at Pizza Pronto for around eight weeks alongside Mr Rafiq, who was known as Zabi.

They waited at Callow Mount until Zabi arrived home just before 4am, he said, adding his role was to reach into his right pocket to take the cash.

“When I put my hand in his pocket he turned round and grabbed me on my neck, and tried to pull off my balaclava,” Maruf said.

“Then Shaffiq came and stabbed him. There was much blood.”

Maruf said he stopped his accomplice taking the money as Zabi lay dying, and they both fled the scene in Habibi’s blue Honda Civic.

“I was so scared and afraid,” he told the court.

“He was just going to show the knife to him and scare him. He said he would give the money more easily.”

Maruf - an Afghan asylum seeker - said he left the UK for France days later, in the hope of getting money to go back to Afghanistan. He was caught in Marseilles and extradited back to Britain in July.

Richard Sheldon, prosecuting, said: “You went into this knowing exactly what was going to happen. You didn’t do anything to help Zabi.”

Maruf, of Hampton Road, Fir Vale, admits manslaughter but denies murder.

The trial continues.