Ross Parker (17 August 1984 – 21 September 2001), from Peterborough, England, was a 17 year old white male murdered in an unprovoked racially motivated crime. He was stabbed to death and beaten with a hammer by a gang of Muslim Asian youths of Pakistani origin described as a “hunting party” who were seeking a white male to attack. The incident occurred in in Millfield, Peterborough, ten days after the 11 September attacks.
In December 2002 Shaied Nazir, Ahmed Ali Awan, and Sarfraz Ali were all found guilty of Parker’s murder in unanimous verdicts and sentenced to life imprisonment, receiving minimum terms ranging from 16 to 18 years. A fourth defendant, Zairaff Mahrad, was cleared of murder and manslaughter.
Parker’s brutal murder is cited as an example of the lack of attention the media and society give to white sufferers of racist attacks compared to that given to ethnic minorities, with organisations such as the BBC and some newspaper journalists later admitting failing to cover the case sufficiently. It is also suggested the case demonstrates how society has been forced to redefine racism so as to no longer exclude white victims.
Ross Parker was born in Peterborough to Davinia and Tony Parker and was one of two children. He was a keen footballer, and had completed a GNVQ in business studies at Jack Hunt School, hoping to join the police force when he was 18. He was nicknamed “Half-Pint” due to his 5 feet 5 inch height and had twice broken his leg previously. Parker lived in the Westwood area of the city and worked part-time at a local public house the Solstice as a cellarman.
Parker was murdered shortly after 1:15 am on 21 September 2001 when walking home from work with his girlfriend Nicola Foot. The attack took place on a cycle path alongside Bourges Boulevard in Millfield, Peterborough, near to Russell Street. Racial tensions in the area were high, as the terrorist attacks in the U.S. had occurred ten days earlier, on 11 September.
It was a warm night and Parker and Foot were holding hands as they walked to visit a friend of Foot’s. They were confronted by a gang of up to ten Muslim Asian youths, some wearing balaclavas. Members of the gang had planned “to find a white male to attack simply because he was white”. They warned Parker he had “better start running”, but then blocked his path and quickly sprayed him in the face with CS gas. He was punched in the stomach and stabbed from behind three times through the throat and chest with a foot-long hunting knife. The knife penetrated right through his body on two occasions and as he was lying on the ground he was repeatedly kicked and struck with a panel beater‘s hammer. Foot ran to a nearby petrol station to find help and a man there gave her his mobile phone so she could call the police. Whilst making the call, she twice heard Parker cry out in pain. By chance she then spotted a passing police car; she entered the vehicle and took the officer to the scene of the assault. Although Foot had only been away for a few minutes, by the time she returned Parker had already bled to death and the gang had disappeared.
After the murder, the four accused returned to a garage behind Nazir’s parents’ house which they used as their headquarters. Awan, brandishing the bloodied knife, exclaimed “cherish the blood”. Parker’s body remained at the scene during the day while an investigation was conducted. A post mortem revealed Parker had died as a result of stab wounds inflicted by a bladed instrument.
|Ahmed Ali Awan|
Ahmed Ali Awan
|Born||2 April 1980|
|Penalty||Life imprisonment (minimum 18 years)|
|Born||19 November 1980|
|Penalty||Life imprisonment (minimum 16 years)|
|Born||9 July 1977|
|Penalty||Life imprisonment (minimum 16 years)|
 Arrests and charges
During the weekend following the murder, twelve Asian people were arrested on suspicion of murder, with a £1,000 reward put up by the local community to find the killers. This was later increased to £1,500. A number of those arrested were recorded chanting “Taliban, Osama bin Laden” whilst being transported in the police van, also vandalising the vehicle. Such chanting continued in the police cells. Detective Chief Inspector Dick Harrison, who was overseeing the case, praised the Muslim community for their involvement in capturing the murderers.
On 26 September 2001 Ali, Awan, and Nazir appeared in court charged with Parker’s murder and Zairaff Mahrad was charged the following day. However, by March 2002 all four defendants charged with Parker’s murder had been controversially released from prison on police bail. Parker’s sister, Leanne, stated “we can’t begin to comprehend why they’ve been allowed out of prison at this stage”. Parker’s family were so concerned about such a decision that they wrote a letter of complaint to the Home Secretary, David Blunkett. The Home Office refused to comment on the case and the men remained free on bail.
In November 2002 Ahmed Ali Awan, Shaied Nazir, Sarfraz Ali and Zairaff Mahrad all of Millfield, Peterborough, stood trial for Parker’s murder at Northampton Crown Court, pleading not guilty.
Awan, 22, of Gladstone Street, ran a recruitment company and had previously attended the city’s Deacon’s School. He was an unofficial police informer and the court was told he thought of himself as a gangster and had a “fantasy for knives”. Nazir, 22, of Cromwell Road, was close friends with Awan; he was married in Kashmir the month prior to the murder and had a son. He was educated at Bretton Woods School, had worked in a factory and later in a takeaway with Mahrad, whom he had known since childhood. Ali, 25, of Harris Street had also attended Bretton Woods School He was given a reference at the trial by the Deputy Mayor of Peterborough, Raja Akhtar. and Labour Party councillor Mohammed Choudhary, with Aktar stating he had “known him to be caring and responsible”. Mahrad, 21, owned a takeaway in King’s Lynn.
At the trial, transcripts of covert police recordings of the suspects discussing the attack were adduced. The conversations took place in police vehicles when the suspects were arrested and were translated from Punjabi. Nazir was heard describing Parker’s death as a “bloodbath”, and how the third blow from the knife had split the whole of his neck open. Awan and Nazir were both heard discussing the statements they had given to police and the plan they had “made up”. The court was also told of an exchange between Awan and an inmate at Bedford Prison, in which Awan described the killing of Parker in lurid detail. Contents of a letter written by Mahrad were also presented in which he stated he would “pray to Allah for forgiveness”.
The jury heard how the murder weapons had been found in a shed at Nazir’s house along with two bags of bloodied clothes. DNA and fingerprints belonging to Nazir was found on the hunting knife and Parker’s blood was found on the hammer. His blood was also found on the clothes of two of the accused, along with Nazir and Mahrad’s DNA and a pathologist told how marks on Parker’s body matched the hammer found in Nazir’s shed. Three balaclavas were also recovered from the property, again containing traces of Parker’s blood, Nazir’s younger brother Wyed told the court he had seen his brother cleaning the murder weapon on the night of the killing and witnessed all four defendants with blood on their clothing. Further witnesses reported Nazir admitting to beating someone up, Mahrad admitting to kicking Parker and Awan recalling stabbing him. A witness also saw all four defendants kicking Parker
In court Nazir admitted to seeing the victim laying on the ground, attempting to spray him with CS gas and kicking him. He also admitted washing the murder weapon and stated that Sarfraz Ali had hit Ross with the hammer and Awan used the knife. Mahrad had also admitted to being present at the murder scene, and claimed that the blood stains found on his trousers occurred as a result of him accidentally falling across Parker. Awan and Ali both denied being at the scene, the later claiming to have been asleep at the time of the murder.
On 19 December 2002 Nazir, Awan and Ali were all found guilty of murder in unanimous verdicts. The judge summarised the murder during sentencing:
|“||You put your heads together with the purpose of arming yourselves and of attacking an innocent man you might find by chance simply because he was of a different race to yourselves. A racist killing must be one of the gravest kinds of killing.||”|
The judge concluded that Awan had wielded the knife, was the ringleader of the group and had intended to kill. The three received life sentences, with Awan to serve a minimum of 18 years and the others at least 16. Mahrad was cleared of murder and manslaughter.
 Post trial
After the trial it was revealed that Nazir had previously been cautioned for using threatening behaviour in 1999 and fined for resisting arrest.
Awan and Nazir appealed against their jail terms in January 2008 but the original sentences were upheld, with judge Justice Davies stating he had taken into account “moving” statements from Parker’s family. After the appeal Parker’s father suggested that the killers of his son should never be freed. The two politicians who had provided Ali’s references were later jailed themselves for forgery in relation to vote rigging.
The organisation who did cover the case also faced some criticism. The Government office for the East of England produced a controversial secret report by Dr Roger Green examining race relations in Peterborough. The document suggested that the Peterborough Evening Telegraph had a history of insensitivity and coverage of the case was “possibly adding to any climate of racial and communal unrest”. However such concerns were completely rejected by both the police and local community representatives who praised the newspaper’s approach.
Parker’s murder lead to increased racial tensions in Peterborough. There were problems at Parker’s school where three Asian pupils were suspended for an attack on a pupil. A number of taxi firms stopped work early in the days after the attack in fear of reprisals. In November 2001 Home Secretary David Blunkett banned all marches in Peterborough for three months as it was feared violence would be caused by the Anti-Nazi League and National Front who both sought to hold protests on the same day.
Parker’s death also had a major impact on his family. His mother, Davinia, was unable to work for three months after Parker’s funeral and came close to attempting suicide on a number of occasions. Parker’s room was left untouched even a year after the incident, with his parents unable to bring themselves to tidy it, describing it as a place they “feel close to Ross”.
As a result of the murder of Parker, local authorities set up a unity scheme, whereby gang members from different communities were trained as youth workers in order to ease racial tensions and reduce violence. However, some problems still persisted, with racist graffiti painted near the murder scene two years after the incident reading “no go area for whites”, “Paki powa” and “death to whites”.
Some, such as Mark Easton cite the Parker case as demonstrating how society has been forced to redefine racism and discard the erroneous definition of “prejudice plus power” – a definition which had only allowed ethnic minorities to be victims. Others such as Alibhai-Brown condemned the double standards of racial equality campaigners in relation to the case, suggesting black activists should “march and remember victims like Ross Parker”, stating “our values are worthless unless all victims of these senseless deaths matter equally”. She went on to write that “to treat some victims as more worthy of condemnation than others is unforgivable and a betrayal of anti-racism itself”.
Parker’s funeral took place at Peterborough Crematorium in Marholm on 23 October 2001 with over 400 mourners attending. His Netherton United football shirt was draped over his coffin and he was described as “a beacon of light who inspired so many people” and “an extremely popular young man”. The murder received little attention from politicians although in 2003 Peterborough Member of Parliament Helen Clark made a statement in Parliament sending condolences of Parker’s family, paying tribute to Peterborough community and in particular Ross’ school with her words echoed by John Denham.
A plaque was installed in Netherton in Peterborough as a memorial to Parker, and a further memorial is located at Peterborough Crematorium. His former football team mates also play a match every May in his memory and formed a team called “Ross’ Rangers”.
Kriss Donald (2 July 1988 – 15 March 2004) was a Scottish fifteen-year-old white male who was kidnapped, tortured and murdered in Glasgow in 2004 by a gang of Asian Muslim men of Pakistani descent, some of whom fled to Pakistan after the crime. Daanish Zahid, Imran Shahid, Zeeshan Shahid, and Mohammed Faisal Mustaq were later found guilty of racially motivated murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. A fifth participant in the crime was convicted of racially-motivated violence and jailed for five years.
The case, which featured the first ever conviction for racially motivated murder in Scotland, is cited as an example of the lack of attention the media and society give to white sufferers of racist attacks compared to that given to ethnic minorities, with organisations such as the BBC later admitting failing to cover the case sufficiently. It is also suggested the crime demonstrates how society has been forced to redefine racism so as to no longer exclude white victims.
|Born||2 July 1988|
|Died||15 March 2004 (aged 15)
Barrowfield, Glasgow, Scotland
|Cause of death||Stabbing/blood loss|
|Resting place||Linn Cemetery
|Residence||Pollokshields, Glasgow, United Kingdom|
|Alma mater||Bellahouston Academy|
|Known for||Victim of racist murder|
 Kidnapping and murder
On 15 March 2004, Donald was abducted from Kenmure Street by five men associated with a local Pakistani gang led by Imran Shahid. The kidnapping was ostensibly revenge for an attack on Shahid at a nightclub in Glasgow city centre the night before by a local white gang, and Donald was chosen as an example of a “white boy from the McCulloch Street area” despite having no involvement in the nightclub attack or in any gang activity. Donald was taken on a 200-mile journey to Dundee and back while his kidnappers made phone calls looking for a house to take him to. Having no success at this, they returned to Glasgow and took him to the Clyde Walkway, near Celtic Football Club‘s training ground.
There, they held his arms and stabbed him 13 times. He sustained internal injuries to three arteries, one of his lungs, his liver and a kidney. He was doused in petrol and set on fire as he bled to death.
The five men convicted of the abduction and murder were convicted of racially aggravated offences. After the murder, some of Donald’s attackers fled the United Kingdom to Pakistan.
The issue of the killing quickly became politicised because of the racial element. After the murder there were reportedly ‘racial tensions’ in the area sufficient to lead to police intervention.
 Arrests and first trials
Initially, two men were arrested in connection with the crime. One man, Daanish Zahid, was found guilty of Kriss Donald’s murder on 18 November 2004 and is the first person to be convicted of racially motivated murder in Scotland. Another man, Zahid Mohammed, admitted involvement in the abduction of Donald and lying to police during their investigation and was jailed for five years. He was released after serving half of his sentence and returned to court to give evidence against three subsequent defendants.
|Born||29 January 1984|
|Charge(s)||Racially motivated murder, abduction, attempting to defeat the ends of justice|
|Conviction(s)||Racially motivated murder|
|Penalty||Life imprisonment (minimum 17 years)|
|Born||1976 or 1977|
|Charge(s)||Racially motivated murder, abduction|
|Conviction(s)||Racially motivated murder, abduction|
|Penalty||Life imprisonment (minimum 25 years)|
|Born||1977 or 1978|
|Charge(s)||Racially motivated murder, abduction,|
|Conviction(s)||Racially motivated murder, abduction|
|Penalty||Life imprisonment (minimum 23 years)|
|Mohammed Faisal Mushtaq|
|Born||1978 or 1979|
|Charge(s)||Racially motivated murder, abduction|
|Conviction(s)||Racially motivated murder, abduction|
|Penalty||Life imprisonment (minimum 22 years)|
|Born||1 January 1984|
|Penalty||5 years imprisonment|
|Status||Released from prison|
 Extradition and later trial
Three suspects were arrested in Pakistan in July 2005 and extradited to the UK in October 2005, following the intervention of Mohammed Sarwar, the MP for Glasgow Central.
The Pakistani police had to engage in a ‘long struggle’ to capture two of the escapees. There is no extradition treaty between Pakistan and Britain, however, the Pakistani authorities agreed to extradite the suspects. There were numerous diplomatic complications around the case, including apparent divergences between government activities and those of ambassadorial officials; government figures were at times alleged to be reluctant to pursue the case for diplomatic reasons.
The three extradited suspects, Imran Shahid, Zeeshan Shahid, and Mohammed Faisal Mushtaq, all in their late twenties, were charged with murder in October 2005. Their trial opened on 2 October 2006 in Scotland.
On 8 November 2006, the three men were found guilty of the racially motivated murder of Kriss Donald. All three had denied the charge; however, a jury at the High Court in Edinburgh convicted them of abduction and murder. The judge at the trail, Lord Uist, made a statement summing up the case:
|“||You have all been convicted by the jury of the racially aggravated abduction and murder of Kriss Donald, a wholly innocent 15 year old boy of slight build. He was selected as your victim only because he was white and walking in a certain part of the Pollokshields area of Glasgow when you sought out a victim. This murder consisted of the premeditated, cold-blooded execution of your victim by stabbing him 13 times and setting him alight with petrol while he was still in life. It truly was an abomination. The savage and barbaric nature of this notorious crime has rightly shocked and appalled the public. You victim must have been in a state of extreme terror while held by you during a four hour car journey across Central Scotland and back, and the agony which he must have suffered during the period between being stabbed and set alight and his death is just beyond imagining.||”|
Each of the killers received sentences of life imprisonment, with Imran Shahid given a 25-year minimum term, Zeeshan Shahid a 23-year minimum and Mushtaq receiving a recommended minimum of 22 years.
 Controversies surrounding the case
 Lack of media coverage
 Police political correctness
 Early release of prisoners
The case drew attention to the issues of prisoners automatically being released from prison early when it emerged that one of the murderers, Shahid, was on early release from a prison sentence at the time of the killing. He had previously been jailed for two and half years for a road rage attack but only served nine months of his sentence.
Glasgow band Glasvegas wrote the song “Flowers And Football Tops” about Donald’s murder from the point of view of his father. The band dedicated their 2008 Philip Hall Radar NME award win to Donald. A memorial plaque was installed on a bench by the River Clyde in memory of Donald.
One of the most notable impacts of the murder was to force some people to examine their views of racism and its victims. Commentators such as Mark Easton cite the racist murders of Donald and also Ross Parker as demonstrating how society has been forced to redefine racism and discard the erroneous definition of “prejudice plus power” – a definition which only allowed ethnic minorities to be victims. Yasmin Alibhai Brown also cited the Donald case when highlighting the lack of concern for white victims of racist murders the one sided approach to the issue. She drew comparisons with high profile ethnic minority vicitms, asking whether Donald’s murderers were “less evil than those who killed Stephen Lawrence?”. Alibhai Brown came to the conclusion that treating “some victims as more worthy of condemnation than others is unforgivable – and a betrayal of anti-racism itself”.