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A man has been jailed for life for stabbing to death taxi driver Mohammed Arshad at Hopwood in North Worcestershire.
Andrew John Bayliss (aged 29), from the Kings Norton area of Birmingham, had denied murder but was found guilty by a jury at Worcester Crown Court following a trial lasting nearly two weeks.
He was given a life sentence by Judge Alistair McCreath who recommended that he should serve a minimum term of 30 years before being considered for release.
Mohammed Arshad was stabbed in his taxi in Wast Hills Lane after picking up Bayliss in Monyhull Hall Road, Kings Norton, on July 22, 2009. After leaving his victim fatally injured by the roadside, Bayliss dumped the taxi about a mile away in Shannon Road on the Hawkesley estate.
He was eventually caught after images of him aboard a bus one mile from where he abandoned the taxi after the attack were shown on Crimewatch programme and then published locally. Bayliss was identified by people who recognised him and then linked to the murder through a palm print in the victim’s blood left on the taxi.
Bayliss was previously unknown to police and the investigation which included mass screening in the Kings Norton area culminated in his arrest nearly four months after the murder.
Detective Superintendent Sheila Thornes of West Mercia Police led the investigation, which included officers from West Midlands Police. She said following today’s sentencing:
“Our thoughts are first and foremost with Arshad’s family who not only suffered the trauma of losing a son, husband and father but also had to cope with the ordeal of a long and painstaking investigation as well as a lengthy wait for the case be heard.
We have all been impressed by their dignity and are also grateful for the full support they gave to our officers during what was an extremely difficult time for them. Hopefully now they can move on and start rebuilding their lives.
This was a brutal and senseless murder of a man carrying out a vital service for community. From the very outset we were determined to do our very best for Arshad’s family by bringing the killer to justice.
We have done that and I would like to pay tribute to the tenacity and professionalism of the officers from West Mercia who worked on this case, and those from the neighbouring West Midlands force who were actively involved.
Although we had early forensic evidence from the vehicle, notably a palm print which we strongly believed was the offender’s, the fact Bayliss was previously unknown to us meant that we could not match it with anything on our systems.
That led to the mass fingerprint and DNA screening on the Hawkesley estate and Monyhull Hall Road area. Our next focus was to be the area around Brandwood Park Road, which would have encompassed Bayliss’s home address.
It is clear from a journal kept by Bayliss, which we recovered at his address, that he was fully aware of the mass screening and clearly worried that the net was closing in on him.
The breakthrough came, however, when officers trawling through hundreds of tapes of CCTV footage from public transport spotted a man on a bus similar to images of the suspect outside Broadmeadow School, in Monyhull Hall Road, shortly before Mr Arshad’s taxi arrived there.
“The man’s appearance had changed and we needed confirmation from a specialist in computerised image analysis before we were able to release the new images on Crimewatch and in local media,” said Detective Supt Thornes.
That resulted in two people coming forward to identify Bayliss and once he had been arrested we were able to match his prints to those from the vehicle.”
She thanked the media for keeping the investigation in the public eye, and all those who had come forward with information.
“Arshad was a kind, genuine and hardworking man who died while out trying to do the best for his family and community.
In Pakistan he was regarded as the backbone of the family and, like his wife Shahida and family here, they have been left completely shattered. We are all unable to come to terms with his death, let alone the brutal manner in which he was killed.
While it is a huge relief to all of us that his killer has been caught, nothing is going to bring Arshad back.
Shahida is still unable to come to terms with what has happened. And cannot understand why Andrew Bayliss has destroyed her life, ruined the lives of her children and taken away such a caring husband. Every day has been a challenge and she prays to God to give her strength to get through this for the sake of her children.
We have every faith in the police and we would like to thank them for all their hard work and the support they gave us throughout the investigation. We are also grateful to Crimewatch and the media for the part they played in helping to catch Arshad’s killer.
The whole family are devastated with this loss, my sister no longer has a caring husband and her children have lost their dad that they adored and treasured. Arshad’s parents are still feeling the loss of their son and suffer everyday knowing that their son is no longer with them.
Arshad had commitments towards his family and would never risk his life for his hard earned money, we truly believe this was a cowardly attack and Arshad was at the wrong place at the wrong time.
We still have many unanswered questions as to why Arshad was killed in this brutal way and hope that his murderer never gets an opportunity to destroy another family in the way that he has destroyed ours."