Man gets life sentence for murdering Tipu Sultan

A gunman who murdered a popular takeaway boss has been jailed for life and told he must serve at least 34 years behind bars.

Michael McDougall blasted Tipu Sultan, 32, in the neck with a sawn-off shotgun after bursting into the Herbs and Spices in South Shields last April.

The gunman had been taken to and from the scene by getaway driver Michael Mullen, on the back of a motorbike.

Mullen has been jailed for 12 years for manslaughter.

Remorseless McDougall joked from the dock as his life term was passed, asking if his sentence could be suspended for 12 months .

Mrs Justice Thirlwall told the killer, who shook his head at the jury who convicted him: "In early April last year you got hold of a sawn off shotgun, you were going to use it to kill a man.

"What reason you had for that, I don't know, I doubt you will ever say. You planned the killing and recruited Mullen as your getaway driver.

"The killing took place at ten pm. Very young teenagers were out playing, a lot on their bikes, playing team tig. Some were scarcely feet away.

"What they witnessed will stay with them for the rest of their lives. He had no prospect of withstanding that lethal attack.

"He died at the scene. His father, who was standing close to his son when he was shot, witnessed his killing.

"No words can adequately describe the terror and horror he experienced."

The judge said McDougall will be an old man when he is eligible for release but added: "whether you are ever released is a matter for the parole board."

The judge said Mullen was recruited as getaway driver by the older, more heavily convicted criminal, for what he thought was a robbery and was unaware McDougall was armed with a shotgun.

The judge told him: "You did not intend Tipu Sultan to be shot and killed or caused any serious injury and you believed you were assisting a violent criminal in the commission of a robbery."

Michael McDougal.

Michael McDougal.

Related story: ‘Our family is now broken’ – Tipu Sultan's heartbroken brother speaks after men jailed for his killing

Mr Sultan's father, who was working with him in the shop, had to relive in detail the cruel and senseless execution of his oldest son when he gave evidence at the trial.

Children playing in the street at the back of the shop heard the gun fire and witnessed the horrific aftermath of the shooting.

They also were witnesses in court.

Despite the killers' convictions and lengthy court process, the motive behind the murder of the popular shop owner remains a mystery.

Mr Sultan's grieving family watched the married dad's killers being convicted after a three week trial at Newcastle Crown Court.

After McDougall was found guilty of murder and Mullen guilty of manslaugter, Mr Sultan's brother read a heartbreaking statement from the witness box, on
behalf of the family.

McDougall was caught on a covert recording device confessing to the killing during a prison visit with pals.

And it is claimed he told getaway driver Michael Mullen that the shooting happened during a "robbery gone wrong".

But during the three-week trial, no real reason was revealed as to why anyone would target Mr Sultan.

Prosecutor Richard Wright QC told the court robbery appears to be an unlikely motive behind the murder and an unknown grudge or even mistaken identity
may lie behind it.

Mr Wright said while Mr Sultan had had money worries and enjoyed gambling in the past, there was nothing in his background to suggest he would become a

Mr Wright said: "There does not appear to have been any clear motive for any person to want to harm Tipu Sultan, let alone kill him.

"Whether they bore him a grudge, whether they acted on instructions of others, whether they killed the wrong man or something altogether else lay behind
the shooting matters little, perhaps.

The court heard after shooting Mr Sultan, McDougall turned his double barrel shotgun towards his father Amin Miah, who managed to slam an internal door
at the shop and stay safe.

When McDougall left the scene, Mr Miah, 61, held his son's hand and checked for breathing but quickly realised he was dead.

Mr Miah relived his heartbreaking ordeal the witness box during the trial.

Mr Miah told jurors he, his son Tipu, 32, from Sunderland, and the chef they employed had been cleaning the kitchen at their business when someone,
wearing a helmet that revealed only his eye area, kicked the backdoor and came in.

Mr Miah, who gave his evidence with the help of an interpreter, said: "At first he didn't say anything, then after a few second he said 'you, you, you'.

"Then he targeted his gun towards Tipu and bang, the shot.

"He said 'hey you' and just fired. Next he targeted towards me, to shoot at me.

"I closed the middle door to save myself."

Mr Miah said he clung on to the door handle as the gunman tried for "two to three seconds" to try and get to him.

He told the court: "I was shouting at the tandoori chef 'help me, help me'.

"Once I felt the handle was loose at the other side, I opened the door and couldn't see him. He had shot Tipu and left.

"I shouted 'help me, help me' and I called the police."

Mr Miah said his son's body was lying outside the back door of the shop.

He added: "I held his hand, I checked his breathing, none was there.

"I shouted 'help me, help me, Tipu is dead'."

McDougall, 47, of Hylton Avenue, South Shields, was found guilty of murder and two charges of possessing a firearm with intent to endanger life.

One of the firearms charges relates to a sawn off shotgun, which was not the murder weapon, which was found on grassland by children playing near Quarry Lane in South Shields last summer.

Mullen, 24, of Hawthorne Avenue, South Shields, was cleared of murder but found guilty of manslaughter.

He was cleared of possessing a firearm and perverting the course of justice.

Detective Chief Inspector John Bent said: "We are pleased with today’s verdict. These men will behind bars for a very long time for the cold and brutal murder of a much loved member of the community.

"I would like to thank the Crown Prosecution Service and our team of barristers for their tireless contribution to this case. I am incredibly proud of the investigation team for their commitment to bring this matter to justice.

"Our thoughts however remain with Tipu’s family at this time. I hope that today’s verdict brings some justice to them however they have lost a much loved brother, son, husband and father and they have to live with that for the rest of their lives."

Supt Sarah Pitt said: "The tragic death of Tipu Sultan had a significant impact for the people of Sunderland and South Shields and the Bangladeshi community here. We work closely with our communities to ensure their concerns and issues are listened to and action taken to help reassure our residents.

"I want to thank the Bangladeshi community in Sunderland and South Shields for their dignity and patience throughout this investigation and I hope today's outcome helps bring some solace and closure for them."

Michael Mullen.

Michael Mullen.

Tipu Sultan.

Tipu Sultan.

Map of the route.

Map of the route.

Tipu's family outside court.

Tipu's family outside court.

Tipu's family outside court.

Tipu's family outside court.