Following a four year investigation, four men have been convicted over the murder of 27-year-old Mohammed Shah Subhani in Hounslow in 2019.
Subhani, known as Shah, disappeared on May 7, 2019 in Hounslow and his remains were eventually found in rural woodland near Beaconsfield in December later that year.
Last Thursday, following a trial at the Old Bailey, the following close associates were convicted of killing and helping to kill him in an argument over a drug deal gone wrong:
– Amraj Poonia – 27, from Horley, was found guilty of murder.
– Raneel Poonia – 26, from Slough, was found guilty of perverting the course of justice.
– Mohanad Riad – 23, from Hounslow, was found guilty of perverting the course of justice.
– Mahamud Ismail – 26, from Brentford, was found guilty of perverting the course of justice.
The court head how the murder was carried out behind the doors of a family plumbing business on an industrial estate in Hounslow on May 7, 2019.
A short time before, Shah had been asked to look after a large amount of cannabis (5 kilos) on behalf of a local drug dealer. He had given some of the drugs (1 kilo with a street value of approximately £5k) to a friend, Amraj Poonia, to look after, but Poonia stole the drugs instead and staged a “theft” of them as a cover for this.
This “loss” of drugs left Shah in debt to the local drug dealer for that amount and, believing Poonia to be responsible, caused increasing animosity between Amraj Poonia and his associate, Mohanad Riad, and Shah and his two brothers. There followed assaults against Amraj Poonia and Riad by the Subhanis and, as a result, threats were made against them for retribution.
On May 7, Amraj Poonia and Shah agreed to meet at Poonia’s family plumbing business. Shortly after entering the premises Shah was murdered.
Nearby CCTV recorded Raneel Poonia and an unidentified male leaving the premises, with their hoods up on what was a summer’s day, before getting in Shah’s Audi Q3 and driving it away. Amraj Poonia and the deceased body of Shah were still inside the premises.
Shah’s car was subsequently found by police on June 19, 2019 in North London, having been fitted with false number plates. Mohanad Riad, as associate of Amraj Poonia, was found to have used his mother’s mobile telephone to send a text message to a number plate provider on May 7 stating “yo bro, I need some plates done” in relation to the Q3’s false plates. Mahamud Ismail was also involved in attempted to source false plates.
On May 8, Raneel Poonia returned to the plumbing premises in a different car, reversing it towards the closed shutters of the premises. Both he and Amraj Poonia, lifted Shah’s body from the plumbers and into the rear of a vehicle. Amraj Poonia then, despite murdering Shah and removing his body from the premises, went to Shah’s home address that same evening and pretended to share his family’s concerns. To reinforce this pretence, he called Shah’s phone four times in an effort to make it look like he was unaware he was dead.
Shah’s body was kept in the boot of a car in an unknown location within Hounslow whilst Amraj Poonia and his associates planned on where and how to dispose of it. In the early hours of Saturday May 11, 2019, Raneel Poonia and Mahamud Ismail, along with another person, drove out in a two car convoy to a small village in Buckinghamshire, called Hedgerley, near Gerrards Cross. There in the middle of the night, they set fire to Shah’s body and then buried it in a shallow grave in woodland, next to the roadside.
As part of the efforts by the Subhani family to find their brother, the Subhani family attended Derby Road industrial estate to conduct their own CCTV enquiries on May 13. Here they encountered Amraj Poonia and a fight ensued between him and the Subhani brothers, with Amraj keen to prevent their efforts. As a result of the fight, police were called as Poonia had been captured on bus CCTV footage to be in possession of a large knife.
After the fight, a witness described how they had heard Amraj Poonia say to one of the brothers “I will kill you like I killed your brother.” Amraj Poonia was arrested for the affray and, just after his arrest, he was recorded on an officers’ body worn video saying: “I’m telling you this on live camera (He then named one of Shah’s brothers). You pig rat, snitch, gangster wannabe, you’re dead, yeah.”
Following the fight, officers conducted an extensive forensic search of the plumbing business and small samples of blood were located. These were later matched and confirmed to be that of Shah. As such, the investigation was passed to a Homicide team of the Met’s Specialist Crime Command.
Six months later, a breakthrough in the investigation occurred when the unnamed person present at the burial site, and not involved in the murder, walked into a police station and provided information about the location of the body and assisted police to locate it. An extensive excavation of a large area of woodland and forensic examination of the scene took place, utilising specialist scientific experts.
The remains of Shah were located, despite the ravages of weather and wildlife. However, the subsequent post mortem was unable to determine the cause of death, due to the loss of some of the remains, significantly, the hyoid bone. The pathologist did, however, comment that the circumstances of the burial indicated an “unnatural death.”
Through this and other evidence, six defendants were charged for their part in the murder and subsequent cover up. Amraj Poonia claimed that he, and he alone, had killed Shah and that this had been in self-defence. However, after hearing all of the evidence the jury found him guilty of Shah’s murder, dismissing his explanation.
‘An amazing son’
Shah’s sister, Iqra, said in a tribute to her brother: “He was kind, he was helpful, and he was courageous. He was an amazing son, an amazing brother, an amazing partner and was an amazing uncle at the time. And I know had his daughter met him and known him, she would say I have the best dad ever.”
Detective Chief Inspector Vicky Tunstall, added: “We have achieved justice for Shah, his family and his partner by securing these convictions against the man responsible for his cowardly murder and those who helped to dispose of his body.
“This has been a terrible ordeal for his family and, by listening to the evidence presented within the trial of his murder and disposal, they have been exposed to detail that no family should ever have to know about their loved ones. But through a determination to know the truth and, with their support, courage and tenacity, we have secured justice and I hope these convictions bring about some peace for them as a family and an opportunity to move forward. That the defendants in this case were long standing friends of the family has made for the ultimate of betrayals…
“Amraj Poonia is a dangerous individual and I have no doubt that the streets of west London are far safer now he, and his accomplices, have been convicted – I hope that this outcome and the diligent investigation that led to their conviction improves the trust that communities can have in the Metropolitan Police.”
All four convicted men will be sentenced at the Old Bailey at a later date.