A man accused of murder has claimed he was trying to break up a fight his friend was losing against a drug dealer who was carrying knives.
Shafique Shaddad denies murdering 18-year-old Fahad Nur and he is on trial at Cardiff Crown Court with his friends, brothers Abdulgalil Aldobhani and Mustafa Aldobhani.
Satyanand Beharrylal QC said in his closing speech to the jury: “By your verdict you decide the future of the person I represent – Shafique Shaddad.
“This is now the only opportunity I have to address you on his behalf so all I ask is you keep an open mind and listen carefully to my submissions.”
Mr Nur died of his injuries following an incident at around 12.25am on June 2 last year, which happened in a lane linking Park Place and Corbett Road in Cathays, Cardiff.
Mr Beharrylal asked the jury to give the evidence “objective examination” and reminded them of the principle of the presumption of innocence.
He said: “The prosecution bring the case, they have the burden of proving it – beyond reasonable doubt.
“Probability, suspicion, even strong suspicion is not enough. That is not the same as being sure.”
He said the “essential question” in his client’s case is whether he, by an unlawful or deliberate act, intended to kill or cause really serious harm to Mr Nur.
Mr Beharrylal said the jury should consider four questions, starting with Shaddad’s intention at the beginning of the night, before he saw Mr Nur.
He told the jury they should then consider Shaddad’s intention when he and Abdulgalil Aldobhani saw Mr Nur in the lane.
Thirdly, they must consider whether Shaddad acted defensively, whether he was trying to part Abdulgalil Aldobhani and Mr Nur in a fight in the lane.
Finally the defence barrister said the jury should consider whether Shaddad told his partner Sadie Mortimore the truth when he spoke to her.
He said: “Your starting point is that Shafique Shaddad has not committed this offence.”
The court heard Shaddad was born in 1994 and has a partner, Ms Mortimore. They had two children together and he raised a third as his own.
In his prepared statement Shaddad denied murder, said he did not have a weapon, did not stab Mr Nur, and did not intend to harm him or actually cause any harm.
He accepted he interacted with Abdulgalil Aldobhani and Mr Nur in the lane and accepted it was him in CCTV footage.
Shaddad stated his friend Abdulgalil Aldobhani was threatened by Mr Nur and was losing a fight so he intervened to part them.
Mr Beharrylal said his client’s account was consistent with witness’ evidence and what he told his partner following the incident.
Shaddad chose not to give evidence and his counsel said: “Anyone in a crown court trial has the right to say nothing. We say he should not be penalised for exercising it.”
The defence barrister suggested the jury could not rely on the evidence of witness Mohammed Adam Mohammed, who said he saw three people with knives.
He stated he saw men wearing masks and Mr Beharrylal said: “Which you know is nonsense.” He added: “Ultimately, his evidence is contaminated. It does not stand up to scrutiny.
“The combined effect, we say, is that you simply cannot rely on Mohammed Adam Mohammed’s evidence.”
He reminded the jury Ms Mortimore said she and Shaddad were in a car when they saw Mr Nur in the weeks before the incident and he pointed at Shaddad and smirked at him.
Mr Beharrylal said: “Fahad Nur and his group were not shy of a confrontation.”
Prosecutors suggested it was “suspicious” Shaddad had his hood up but his counsel said: “That is how he dresses. He had his hood up the whole time.”
He said on the night of June 1 his client’s intention was to “chill out” with friends, get something to eat and drink, adding: “He had no intention of doing anything malicious.”
Mr Beharrylal said it would not have made any sense for Abdulgalil Aldobhani and Shafique Shaddad to look for confrontation in the lane.
He reminded the jury it was Abdulgalil Aldobhani’s local area and they knew the lane was a busy shortcut, full of people who would see what was going on.
The defence barrister reminded the jury Mr Nur was 6ft 3in, of “formidable stature”, while Abdulgalil Aldobhani was 5ft 8in and Shaddad was the shortest at 5ft 6in.
The court heard Mr Nur was caught by police in April 2019 with a Rambo knife and a lock knife. Mr Beharrylal said the Rambo knife would have been expensive and difficult to replace.
He added: “You my conclude that, having been deprived of his knives in April 2019, he has replaced them with similar dimension knives to continue doing what he was doing.”
The court heard Mr Nur’s DNA was found on a cleaver recovered by the police but did not come from his blood. Mr Beharrylal suggested that was consistent with him handling it.
The smaller knife was found to have Abdulgalil Aldobhani’s blood on it. The jury have photographs of cuts to his hand.
Mr Beharrylal said Abdulgalil Aldobhani would have been “perfectly entitled” to defend himself from Mr Nur. Shaddad’s case is that he intervened to stop the fight.
He reminded the jury the lane was dark and there were bushes that may have obscured the witnesses’ views of the incident, which was over in seconds.
Student Ethan Moore described seeing two men attacking a third. Mr Beharrylal said: “It might very well have looked like he [Shaddad] was in the fight but actually acting defensively.”
He reminded the jury Mr Moore was very close to the incident and did not see Shaddad holding a knife.
Mr Beharrylal said: “You may have little difficulty concluding it was Abdulgalil Aldobhani who inflicted the fatal stab wound.”
He pointed out his client could easily have fled with the brothers but he did not, adding: “All he did was intervene defensively. He has committed no crime.
“The crime with which he is charged is the most serious in the criminal law. What must not happen is that Shafique Shaddad is convicted of a crime he has not committed.”
Aseel Arar is charged with assisting an offender by booking a hotel room in Birmingham and a flight to Morocco for her boyfriend Abdulgalil Aldobhani.
In his closing speech, Christopher Rees said to the jury: “It is now my turn to address you on behalf of Aseel Arar. By my calculations you have heard roughly seven hours of speeches already.”
He suggested the case against his client seemed like “an afterthought” compared to the case against the three defendants accused of murder.
Mr Rees said: “95%-plus of the evidence you have heard in this case, understandably, relates to the murder charge.
“If one was looking at this case objectively, the case for and against Aseel Arar is something of a sideshow. But for her it is a very serious offence.
“You know, members of the jury, that she is a woman of effective good character. At 35 she sits in the dock for the first time in a crown court case.
“For her, it is vitally important. You cannot overstate the importance of the case for her.”
The court heard the jury would not be able to convict Arar unless they convicted her boyfriend Abdulgalil Aldobhani.
Prosecutors allege she booked a hotel room and flights to Morocco with the intention of helping him to avoid being arrested by the police.
She does not dispute making the bookings and her counsel added: “The issue is what her intention was.”
He said the prosecution had to make the jury sure that she intended to help her boyfriend evade arrest.
Mr Rees added: “The bare minimum they have to prove is she knew about the incident in the lane. There is no direct evidence that Aseel Arar knew about the incident in the lane.”
He said there was a murder investigation involving “a huge amount of police time and work” but inquiries did not reveal any direct evidence she knew what happened.
The defence barrister added: “Not a single witness said Aseel Arar knew what happened in the lane. So the prosecution case, really, is based on circumstantial evidence.
“But speculation, members of the jury, is guesswork.”
Mr Rees pointed out his client was in Birmingham when the incident happened, not Cardiff. She did not see her boyfriend in the immediate aftermath.
Referring the jury to the schedule of evidence, he said the first contact between them was the following day and they saw each other 24 hours later.
The defence barrister said: “In relation to booking the hotel and the flight to Morocco, you cannot be sure what the intention was, therefore the defendant is entitled to be found not guilty.”
He said in order to convict her they must be sure Arar knew or believed that Abdulgalil Aldobhani was guilty of murder or manslaughter.
Mr Rees added: “That is the same question you are being asked to consider during this case.
“Not that she suspected but that she knew or believed – exactly what you are being asked to do during the course of a two-month trial.
“That is a very high bar, you may think, members of the jury, in the context of this case. It is the bar you have been set.”
He added: “If she was present in the lane and saw what happened, the prosecution might have a chance of proving that aspect of the case.
“All she can know is what she has been told by others, principally Abdulgalil Aldobhani himself.”
He suggested most people would not want to believe a loved one was capable of murder or manslaughter. In order to convict her the jury could not think she believed her boyfriend was acting in self-defence.
Mr Rees said: “To this day all defendants maintain their innocence. The defendant is likely to tell his girlfriend a version where he is innocent. He’s hardly going to say: ‘We murdered him.’”
Arar chose not to give evidence and her counsel said: “She does not have to give evidence. An inference from failing to give evidence cannot in itself prove guilt.”
He described Arar as “a Birmingham girl” who was born and brought up in the area.
Mr Rees stressed she had no previous convictions and referred to a number of character references from friends who had known her for a long time.
One friend described her as “an intelligent, hard-working and passionate woman with a huge heart”.
Another, who worked on community projects with her, said she was sincere and trustworthy.
The court heard she organised music events aiming to showcase the talents of female musicians. She staged events aiming to bring people together.
Mr Rees said: “She is loved and cherished by people who know her. She is trusted and trusting. A person who sees the best in others. There can be a certain naivety sometimes in that.”
He suggested with her strong family links, friendships and community ties, she would not leave Birmingham to go on the run with someone she believed was guilty of murder.
Mustafa Aldobhani, 22, who does not have a fixed address, and Abdulgalil Aldobhani, 23, from Cathays Terrace, deny murder. Shaddad, 25, from Louisa Place, also denies the charge.
Arar, 35, from Middle Park Road in Birmingham, denies assisting an offender. The trial continues.