Sunningdale murder investigation

23 November 2010, 12:46 | Updated: 25 November 2010, 12:20

The wife of Shaleem Amar, has released a tribute on behalf of his family.

I, the wife of Shaleem Amar, would like to make a formal statement about the horrific murder that has stolen three innocent children of their father.

“I understand many things are being said in the media, most of which are untrue.  My husband was a committed, private, family man, who would never risk the safety of his family. I will always remember his favourite words to me and my children, “I love you more than life itself”.

“I reach out to you, the general public and media, to request that you respect mine and my children’s privacy as we grieve together as a family at this time of great pain and loss.

“I can not emphasise enough what a devoted husband, loving father, caring son and awesome brother Shaleem was. My husband was loved by all those who came to know him and will forever be remembered with the utter most respect and love. Shaleem was the life and soul of the party - he always had a smile on his face and a zest for life.

“The last time I saw my husband was on Tuesday 16 November.  We were together spending quality time in our family home, memories of which my children and I will cherish forever.

“Shaleem was only 33 years old when he was tragically stolen from us. He was an innocent victim in this ruthless murder and we demand that his killers be brought to justice.”

On Wednesday (24th November) it was revealed that on May 23rd 2009, Mr Amar had failed to return from a resettlement day release from a Kent Prison.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice told Heart: "Mr Amar had been at HMP Standford Hill in Kent for nearly a year and the prison recorded nothing untoward about his behaviour at the prison. Prisoners located in open conditions have been rigorously risk assessed and categorised as being of low risk to the public."

Four men have been remanded in custody after appearing in court charged with murder.

The men, including a father and two sons appeared at Reading Crown Court on Tuesday (23rd November). They'll return to court on 1st March 2011 and a trial date is provisionally set for May 2011.

They have been named as Tom Johnston, aged 24; Ben Johnston, aged 26, Robert Johnston, aged 56, all from Pampisford, Cambridge and Shaun Matthews, aged 54, from Whittlesford, Cambridge.

Mr Amar (below) was 33 and married with three children - an 8 year-old boy, a 7 year-old girl and a 3 year-old girl. The family had moved to Hancocks Mount in the village two months ago.

Shaleem AmarWhat happened?

Mr Amar was found dying in the back of a white van which was was pulled over by police in Sunningdale on the 17th of November at around 1pm on the A30 opposite Majestic Wine. Police have told Heart they stopped the van because they'd received information which made officers suspect the people driving the Mercedes Sprinter maybe involved in crime.

When the police approached the van after stopping it, four men ran off. Three were arrested immediately. The fourth ran off barefoot wearing a badly ripped t-shirt was found after a more extensive search which involved the police helicopter, more police officers and members of the public.

Following the arrests of the men, who are aged 24, 26, 54 and 56, the officers returned to the van and searched it. Inside, they found Mr Amar who was seriously injured and immediately commenced first aid and called an ambulance. Despite the efforts of the officers and of the paramedics he died. Police have launched a murder investigation. A post mortem showed he died from head injuries.

Detectives searched a multi-million pound mansion in Sunningdale in connection with the murder inquiry. Police are reportedly investigating whether the man was held at the empty house before his death.

Eye witnesses and local residents in the quiet Berkshire village told Heart they were 'shocked' and 'surprised'.

Police Watchdog Investigation

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has completed an assessment of a referral from Thames Valley Police (TVP) in relation to the incident and has decided the actions of the officers searching the van were reasonable in the circumstances.

IPCC Commissioner for the south east, Mike Franklin, said:

“It took 37 minutes from the point that the van was stopped, until officers discovered the injured man. At first glance, this seems like a long time. However, based on what was known to police at that time, I am satisfied that there was no reason why officers should have suspected anybody was injured in the back of the van. I therefore believe it was reasonable for the officers to prioritise arresting and dealing with the four men, including two that were trying to abscond, before they started the search.”

Click the links below for an exclusive video from Sunningdale right after it all happened, and to read what the police officer in charge of the investigation said about it on Wednesday night.