Sabina Rizvi: Woman shot outside police station was unlawfully killed, jury finds

Sabina Rizvi inquest Credit: PA Media

A woman who was shot dead outside a police station 21 years ago was unlawfully killed, a jury has concluded.

Sabina Rizvi, 25, was killed in the early hours of March 20 2003 as she drove away from Bexleyheath police station in south east London.

In 2004, Paul Asbury, then aged 22, was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 20 years after being convicted of her murder and the attempted murder of her boyfriend, Mark Williams, who was a passenger in the same car.

The inquest was heard at the Old Bailey, almost 21 years after Ms Rizvi’s death Credit: Sean Dempsey/PA

An inquest into Ms Rizvi’s death at the Old Bailey has been looking into whether officers at Bexleyheath police station were implicated in what happened.

The jury forewoman told the court: “On 20 March 2003, shortly after leaving Bexleyheath Police Station, Sabina Rizvi was shot by unidentified assailants (assisted by another who was later convicted of her murder) whilst driving a vehicle on Watling Street, Bexleyheath and she died as a result of a gunshot wound to the neck.”

Opening proceedings earlier this month, inquest counsel Cathryn McGahey KC said Ms Rizvi’s family believed there was more to investigate.

Ms McGahey had said: “The criminal trial had looked only at the role of Paul Asbury and of accomplices who had been directly involved in the shooting or in destroying evidence afterwards.

“The criminal trial had not looked at whether the police at Bexleyheath police station were in any way implicated in what had happened.”

On Tuesday Ms Rizvi’s family, who were carrying a large photograph of her, left the court as assistant coroner Angela Rafferty KC began summing up the case to the jury as the hearing neared its end.

The coroner told the jury: “Sabina’s family have fought for many years to have this inquest – their grief is still palpable. There may never be closure for them.”

The coroner said there was insufficient evidence to find the police ought to have known there was a risk to her life or could have taken action to prevent it.

There was no evidence that officers had inadvertently notified Asbury of Williams’s whereabouts. Asbury already knew he was at the station, the jury was told.

Asbury, a known thief and burglar, accepted responsibility for Ms Rizvi’s murder while giving evidence at the inquest, but refused to name the two people who fired the shots.

He told the court Ms Rizvi was “caught up in the middle” of a plan to shoot Mr Williams, who was a criminal rival.

Asbury told the inquest he was in a red Vauxhall Astra when he spotted Mr Williams in a Nissan Bluebird being driven by Ms Rizvi as they left the police station.

He said he informed two others driving a Ford Mondeo and they carried out the shooting at around 2.20am, which he said he did not see.

Mr Williams was shot twice in the head – surviving but with significant brain injuries affecting his memory.

Lee Catling, a former detective chief inspector who led the investigation into Asbury and two unknown gunmen, told the hearing he did not see any evidence that officers had assisted the suspects or that the police had let slip to Asbury the whereabouts of Mr Williams while he was at the station.

The inquest, which was originally opened and adjourned in 2003, was reopened in February 2019 by the senior coroner for south London.

Speaking outside the Old Bailey on Tuesday, Sabina’s mother, Mrs Iffat Rizvi said: “After waiting 21 years since Sabina’s murder for an inquest to provide some answers about what really happened on the night she died, we are hugely disappointed that the coroner has prevented the jury from returning any conclusion on the facts. “Sabina was the heart and soul of our family. Since that terrible night when her life was taken, the devastating impact continues to be felt deeply by us all. “We have never been able to make sense of what happened to Sabina on 19 March 2003."

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