More than 80 family members and friends of a man who was shot dead by police in a pre-planned operation at Ainley Top gathered together on what would have been his 29th birthday.

Yassar Yaqub, 28, died from gunshot wounds to the chest when an Audi in which he was a passenger was brought to a stop by police as it left the M62 at Ainley Top. Police had been given a tip off that a firearm was being illegally carried in the car and one was subsequently found in the footwell.

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At 5pm yesterday (Thurs) his father Mohammed Yaqub, 59, from Crosland Moor, and his wife Safia as well as dozens of family members and friends went to visit his grave near Castle Hill.

Then they travelled a few miles to Ainley Top where they and others laid fresh flowers, lit candles and let off balloons to mark his birthday.

Mr Yaqub said: “It was very, very emotional at the graveyard today. A lot of prayers were said in memory of him in English, Urdu and Arabic.

Vigil for Yassar Yaqub at Ainley Top for what would have been his 29th birthday. His grieving father Mohammed Yaqub and mother Safia

“There have been a lot more people than I expected. We have had a lot of support, with people coming from all over the country including London.

“This has been one of the worst days of our lives. It’s been a very, very sad feeling today. I was very close to my son. He was irreplaceable.”

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Mr Yaqub added that he was expecting to see senior members of the Independent Police Complaints Commission with his lawyer Michael Mansfield QC shortly after becoming frustrated with the pace of the investigation.

Muhammad Rizwan, a 32-year-old businessman from Crosland Moor, who had known Yassar for years, said: “It’s very sad that he is not here with us today.”