A MAN who orchestrated the savage ‘revenge killing’ of an innocent Huddersfield taxi driver yesterday failed in an Appeal Court challenge to his 25-year minimum jail term.
Christopher Murphy, now 21, lured Mohammed Parvaiz to a quiet cul-de-sac in Golcar before setting upon him with three others, kicking and stamping until the cabbie was left dying on the ground.
In January 2007 Murphy was convicted of murder after an eight-week trial before a Bradford Crown Court jury and sentenced to the long minimum term.
He complained and yesterday took his case to the Court of Appeal in a bid to win a lesser minimum term – the period after which he will be free to apply for release – from three senior judges.
But, after hearing his arguments, Lord Justice Moses, who heard the application with Mr Justice Openshaw and Judge Peter Rook QC, said the term was fully justified.
Murphy, of no fixed address, had organised the gang of young killers to ambush Mr Parvaiz in revenge for an incident in which his motor scooter had been damaged by other young men.
Mr Parvaiz, a 41-year-old married father-of-three from Tanfield Road, died from head injuries.
He had driven the other gang to the scene but was entirely innocent, having actually attempted to flee the scene when he realised what his services were being used for.
But Murphy and his friends decided it was Mr Parvaiz who should pay and, after luring him to Field Head in Golcar, smashed up his car and beat him to death. His watch and cash were taken afterwards and Murphy made racist remarks.
One of Murphy’s accomplices, Michael Hand – who is a year younger – received a minimum term of 21 years, while two even younger youths received tariffs of 17 years.
Yesterday James Goss QC, representing Murphy, argued that a 25-year minimum term was too long for a person as young as 21 and should be reduced.
But Lord Justice Moses rejected the argument.
He said: “Quite apart from the racial aggravation, from the fact that this was a murder for gain, this was a revenge killing, carefully planned.
“The fact that the taxi driver was on duty was ascertained in advance. The obscure and remote area in which the attack was to take place was planned.
“There were further features which aggravated this offence. This was an innocent public servant carrying out his public duties as a taxi driver, a post particularly vulnerable.
“Further, it was an offence which caused a public outcry and, while public outcry can never be the measure of the propriety of a sentence, in this particular case, it was wholly justified.
“And the outrage demonstrated by the fact that 2,000 taxi drivers went on strike in sympathy was wholly understandable.
“All of these features were carefully reflected in the measured response of the judge in her sentencing remarks.
“Significant though this sentence was, it was justified and it was not manifestly excessive.”
Murphy will only be freed after serving his minimum term if he can convince the Parole Board the danger he poses to the public has passed.
If released, he will remain subject to strict life licence conditions with the threat of immediate recall to prison if he ever puts a foot wrong again.