A Muslim man was jailed for eight years today for killing his BNP activist neighbour after suffering a long-running campaign of racial abuse.
Habib Khan, 50, stabbed 52-year-old Keith Brown with a kitchen knife during a violent row outside his home in Stoke-on-Trent in July last year. Stafford Crown Court was told that Khan and his family had been subjected to "racial hostility" by his neighbours prior to the attack on July 6. Khan, of Uttoxeter Road, Normacot, was cleared by a jury of murdering Mr Brown and instead convicted of manslaughter following a trial in May.
Khan was sentenced to a total of eight years in prison for two charges - one of manslaughter by lack of intent and one of wounding. Judge Simon Tonking ordered that he serve consecutively six-and-a-half years for manslaughter and 18 months for wounding Mr Brown’s son, Ashley Barker.
The court heard that Khan, described as a "mild and calm-mannered family man", had intended to use the knife to threaten Mr Brown, who had hold of one of his sons. Judge Tonking said Khan had acted "in the honest belief that he needed to protect his son" but in doing so had killed Mr Brown.
He said: "It is beyond question that, by acting in the way that he did, Mr Khan killed Mr Brown unlawfully and, whatever their differences, the fact is that Mr Brown lost his life. That is a consequence for which Mr Khan must be punished with a significant custodial sentence."
The court heard that the families’ feud began when Khan put in a planning application to build a new house on his land a few years prior to the incident. Mr Brown objected and when permission was granted and building work began, he "took steps to obstruct it". The situation escalated over the years, with one incident leaving Khan in hospital. The court was told that the Khan family were often subjected to racial abuse and taunting.
Judge Tonking said: "What became obvious as the evidence unfolded, however, is that from time to time, despite denials to the contrary, both Mr Brown and his son Ashley Barker were involved in acts of racial aggression towards members of Mr Khan’s family."
Khan’s defence barrister, Simon Drew, said that police were called on a number of occasions, but often investigations "came to nothing" because of "generous failures by the system".
Speaking outside the court, Stoke-on-Trent BNP members slammed the sentence, which they said did not reflect the severity of the crime. Councillor Michael Coleman said the court case was an example of "liberal politics going on". He criticised Staffordshire Police for "going softly on ethnic minorities" and being hard with "the indigenous population of this island".