A man charged with killing a South Tyneside businessman was back in the dock yesterday – accused of trying to persuade a witness in the murder probe to change their statement.
Father-of-two Tipu Sultan was gunned down outside his family-run takeaway, Herbs & Spice, in Lake Avenue, South Shields in April.
The tragedy sent shockwaves through the community and sparked a major police hunt for his killers.
Michael McDougall, 47, of Hylton Avenue and Michael Mullen, 24, of Hawthorne Avenue, both South Shields, were jointly charged with the 32-year-old’s murder at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court on June 25.
Neither entered pleas and were remanded in custody ahead of a plea hearing set for October and a trial date set for February.
But Mullen was produced from Durham Prison to appear at court in South Tyneside yesterday to face a charge of perverting the course of justice in relation to the murder.
He is accused of conspiring with another person between June 23 and July 17 to try to persuade to change her statement in the murder case against him and McDougall.
Mullen spoke only to confirm his name, age and address during a brief hearing at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court and was not asked to enter a plea.
The case was sent to Newcastle Crown Court for a hearing on September 17.
Gerald Tierney, chairman of the magistrates, said: “Due to the seriousness of the charge you will go to the crown court for an appearance on September 17.”
Mr Sultan was shot at close range at the rear of the Herbs and Spice takeaway just before 10pm on Tuesday, April 7.
Two men were seen speeding away from the area on a motorbike after the shooting.
Police seized more than 2,000 hours of CCTV footage from the area where Mr Sultan was killed and visited more than 1,000 homes as part of a wide-ranging investigation. Northumbria Police Detective Chief Inspector John Bent made an appeal on the BBC’s Crimewatch show in May as part of the force’s murder probe.
Two women arrested at the same time as Mullen and McDougall were released by police in June, one with no further action being taken, while a 35-year-old man arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to murder in the days after the incident was released without further action.
Hundreds gathered at Sunderland’s Bangladeshi Community Centre, in Tatham Street, Hendon, on April 22 for the funeral of Tipu, who lived in the city’s Millfield area with wife Julie Nasrin, 27, son Ilyas, seven, and two-year-old daughter Aeysha.