‘We may never know reason for murder’

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The motive behind Parvaiz Iqbal’s savage murder might never be known, the detective in charge of the investigation said today.

Detective Superintendent Dave Barraclough spoke to The Star after Naeem Mehmood was jailed for life.

Aged 27 now, he must serve at least 27 years behind bars before he can be considered for parole.

Mehmood admitted murdering Mr Iqbal - and stabbing another worker, Saied Husseine - at the Bismallah Food Store that Mr Iqbal ran with his brother Shafaq in Eastwood, Rotherham.

Det Supt Barraclough said: “The exact reasons why Mehmood chose to attack his boss and colleague in such a violent way remain unclear.

“He had only recently returned to work, and the innocent victims in the case were simply going about their daily business, when Mehmood launched his unprovoked attack.”

The court heard Mehmood had cut off the top of his finger in a slicing machine at the store a few weeks earlier - and possibly bore a grudge against his boss because of the injury.

He also claimed to police Mr Iqbal had been ‘disrespectful’ towards him because of his caste - but the judge found no evidence to support his allegation.

In a letter to the court, Mehmood apologised for the killing and described Mr Iqbal as ‘a very good man’.

He said: “I want to apologise to the public of the UK for what I have done.”

He also asked for forgiveness from his victim’s family, in particular from his children, and from Allah.

Mr Justice Males described Mr Iqbal as a ‘friendly and popular member of the community’ who was ‘well liked and respected by his employees, his customers and all who knew him’.

His brother Shafaq made a victim impact statement, in which he spoke of the pain and suffering felt by those who knew and loved his brother.

Prosecutor Peter Moulson QC said: “They are having difficulty coming to terms with the premature and violent death of the head of their family. 
“He feels they have a life of grieving ahead of them, and speaks of the way in which their strong faith is helping them all through this time.”

Mr Iqbal grew up in Eastwood and lived with his wife of 20 years, Shakila, and their sons, aged 17, 16 and nine.

More than 1,000 mourners turned up for his funeral - so many that the service had to be held outdoors in Eastwood to accommodate them.

His father had moved to the UK from Pakistan, and opened the family store which was Rotherham’s first Halal butchers.

It was later taken over by his sons, and became the hub of the community where generations of Pakistani families bought their meat.

On the day of the killing, staff were busy preparing for the religious festival of Eid, which began the next day.

Jahangir Akhtar, deputy leader of Rotherham Council and a family friend of the Iqbals, told The Star the killing had been a tragedy ‘not just for the family but for the whole of Eastwood and Rotherham’.

“The family have had a lot of support from the community but they have to deal with the loss of a loved one in his prime,” he said.

“They have had support from the people of Rotherham and the shop still remains open. It is the hub of the community, but Parvaiz’s death is a tragedy and he has left a big hole.”

Related article: Video: Killer gets life for murder of South Yorkshire shopkeeper