Life Sentences For Sunningdale Murderers

19 December 2011, 17:05

Four men will serve at least 98 years in prison between them for murdering a dad-of-three in Sunningdale in Berkshire.

Shaleem Amar (pictured right), 33, had been attacked with hammers and was bleeding from a wound to his head when police found him lying in a rubble bag, covered in sand, in Sunningdale in November last year.

Robert Johnston, known as Derek, aged 57 (pictured), and his two sons Ben, aged 27 and Tom, aged 25, all of Town Lane, Pampisford, Cambridge, along with a fourth man Shaun Matthews, aged 56, of Duxford Road, Whittlesford, Cambridge, were found guilty of Mr Amar’s murder following a six-week trial at Reading Crown Court.

Robert Johnson

Mr Amar, a business associate of Johnston senior, was attacked in the kitchen of his rented luxury home, the trial was told.

Officers, who followed the four men after they drove off from Mr Amar's home in their white van, eventually found him mortally wounded.

When the vehicle was pulled over on November 17 last year, officers noticed the men's clothing was covered in blood, but one claimed he was a decorator and that the substance was red paint.

It was some time later, and after an initial search of the back of the van, that Mr Amar was found in the rubble bag, which had been covered with clothes and blankets.

Mr Amar, who had suffered severe injuries was pronounced dead on the roadside.

While there was no clear motive for the murder, jurors were told, Johnston senior and Mr Amar were partners in a fraudulent business which carried out complicated paper trail VAT fraud.

The company would claim VAT on goods it "sold'' but that did not actually exist.

Johnston senior had denied murder but told the jury he killed Mr Amar, and that he acted in self-defence because he feared he would himself be shot after a row over money.

He had told the court: "He was shouting that he was going to kill me and I was defending myself.''

After the guilty verdicts, Mr Amar's wife Shajiba said:

"I have waited a whole year for justice to be done and today I believe I have received the justice I have been waiting for.  

"These four men are responsible for murdering my husband and the father of my three children.

"Their calculated planning of my husband’s cold-blooded and violent murder was nothing short of evil and barbaric. They showed no mercy.  Every part of me wants them to suffer as they have made me and my children suffer.

"The motive behind this brutal murder was nothing more than greed. I am grateful to Thames Valley Police for catching these brutal killers.

"They have showed no remorse for what they have done. They prolonged my agony by pleading not guilty and made me wait a whole year for this trial. The last six weeks have been like reliving the pain of Shaleem’s death all over again, the pain has been excruciating."

Shajiba Amar, who met Shaleem at the University of Westminster in 1998 and married in 2001 went on to pay tribute to him:

"He was not only my husband, but also my best friend and soul mate. Shaleem was a funny and charming person who was so full of life. He was loved by all who knew him.

"We had three wonderful children together who adored their daddy and thought the world of him.

"Half of me died on 17 November 2010. For days I didn’t know if it was real or if I was having the worst nightmare of my life, but it wasn’t a nightmare every part of it was real.

"I would like to thank my family and friends for all of their love and support and my wonderful children for being so brave and giving me the strength to live through this horror."

Upon sentencing, Mr Amar’s mother Flora Amar, from London, and his uncle Zafar Ismail, said:

"The news that all four men have been convicted of Shaleem’s murder has been received with a sigh of great relief by his family and friends after 13 months of so torturous and agonising waiting."