Page last updated at 11:13 GMT, Friday, 17 October 2008 12:13 UK

Soldier jailed for 'evil' killing

Michael Ross and Shamsuddin Mahmood
Michael Ross shot Shamsuddin Mahmood in 1994

A soldier has been jailed for a minimum of 25 years for the murder of a Bangladeshi waiter in Orkney in 1994.

Sgt Michael Ross was just 15 when he shot 26-year-old Shamsuddin Mahmood in the head at close range in Kirkwall's Mumutaz restaurant.

Ross, 30, of Inverness, who became a Black Watch sniper, was found guilty of murder in June after a six-week trial at the High Court in Glasgow.

Judge Lord Hardie told him it was a "vicious, evil, unprovoked murder".

Mr Mahmood, born in Bangladesh, was shot in full view of a room full of diners, including families with children, by a masked gunman in June, 1994.

The killing sparked one of Northern Constabulary's biggest investigations.

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Mr Mahmood's brother tells BBC Scotland's Tim Reid he believes Ross is 'evil'

During the trial, the Crown claimed Ross was a racist, and this was the motivation behind the crime.

Ross's father - police officer Eddie Ross who was called to the scene of the shooting - was later jailed for four years for trying to defeat the ends of justice.

The charge was that he withheld information from investigating officers over ammunition he found in his own home. It resembled the cartridge used to kill the waiter.

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Lord Hardie told Ross: "This was a vicious, evil, unprovoked murder of a defenceless man. The attack was a pre-meditated assassination which involved the use of a firearm.

"It involved shooting him in the head at close range. It occurred in a public restaurant in front of members of the public, including children, who were traumatised by your actions.

"It was motivated by your extreme racist prejudice and after the murder you attempted to pervert the course of justice by destroying evidence."

He said: "Despite the fact that you are a first offender and were 15 on the date of the murder of Shamsuddin Mahmood, taking account of these aggravating factors, I consider that the appropriate punishment period that you should serve before being eligible for parole is 25 years. I sentence you to life imprisonment."

'Clear name'

Lord Hardie also said that the evidence showed that Ross held racist views and sympathy for Nazi Germany.

The judge added that Ross had gone onto have a career in the army and have a family, but said he had "deprived" his victim of the opportunity to have a family or further his career.

Lord Hardie went on: "Your actions in murdering him were an act of cowardice and, despite what was said about your army career, it is clear from your actions after conviction, that you are still a coward."


Michael Ross is an evil person

Abul Shafuddin
Shamsuddin Mahmood's brother

Defence QC Donald Findlay revealed that Ross continued to protest his innocence and said "everything will be done at his instruction in an attempt to clear his name".

Shamsuddin's brother Abul Shafuddin said: "At last the killer has been brought to justice - it's a big consolation for us. At one stage we lost all hope that his killer would be found.

"We cannot forgive him. He owes an apology to the family which he has not tendered. He is not a reformed person.

"There cannot be any other motive than racism. If somebody else was in my brother's place at that time - a black person - he might have killed him. Michael Ross is an evil person."

'Senseless act'

Orkney and Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael said: "This is something that has been hanging over Orkney as a community for many, many years.

"By and large the community will be relieved that at long last they can draw a line under this. Everybody must be satisfied that there has been some sort of resolution."

Northern Constabulary said in a statement: "Northern Constabulary welcomes the life sentence given to Michael Ross. This was a senseless and abhorrent act and the sentence reflects this.

"The sentencing today finally brings a conclusion to a long and difficult period for the family of Shamsuddin and the community in Orkney.

"Crimes such as this are extremely rare in Scotland and virtually unheard of in somewhere like Orkney. Levels of crime on the islands are extremely low and the detection rate for crime, which does exist is one of the highest in the UK."

However, Ross's father Eddie Ross said: "No one in our family believed he was responsible for what he was accused of."




SEE ALSO
Father speaks in defence of son
17 Oct 08 |  North East/N Isles
Murder sentence delay criticised
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'A shocking and sickening crime'
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Waiter's murder jurors sent home
19 Jun 08 |  North East/N Isles
Waiter's killer 'like a hitman'
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Murder was 'savage assassination'
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Gun accused a 'brother in arms'
16 Jun 08 |  North East/N Isles

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