Harminder Singh Jhaghra
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A man who evaded capture for 17 years following a murder in Hayes in 1996 has today (Thursday, 8 October) been sentenced to life imprisonment at Isleworth Crown Court.
Kiranjit Uppal, 37 (03.06.77) of no fixed abdode was found guilty on Monday, 7 October of the murder of Harminder Singh Jhaghra in February 1996. Today he was ordered to serve a minimum of 16-years.
He was also found guilty of grievous bodily harm in connection with an incident which occurred on the same day, prior to the murder. For this offence, he was sentenced to five-years to run concurrently.
Uppal fled the UK in the days following Harminder’s murder but was arrested by officers from the Homicide and Major Crime Command on 9 September 2013 after disembarking from an inbound flight at Heathrow airport from India.
Detective Chief Inspector Charles King from the Homicide and Major Crime Command said (HMCC): “I welcome the sentence that has been handed down today. Uppal will no face a lengthy sentence for murdering Harminder.
“This has proved to be a challenging case due to the length of time that has passed. For almost 18 years Uppal though he had got away with murdering Harminder Singh Jhaghra and had been living a relatively comfortable life in India.
“Today’s sentence should send a strong message that that even with the passage of time we will do all that we can to find those who insist on evading justice and put them before the courts.
“The events of that fateful day have left a profound effect on Harminder’s family. They have had to wait 18 long years to witness this day and I would like to thank them for supporting us with this latest trial. I hope that the sentence handed down today provides them some measure of justice after such a considerable period of time.”
The court heard how a series of altercations on 7 February 1996 lead to a clash between two rival groups from Cranford and Southall in West London which resulted in Harminder’s death.
At approximately 1600hrs two men from the Cranford area and associates of Uppal were set upon in Bath Road, Cranford by a number of individuals from the Southall area. The two sustained minor cuts and bruising to their faces. Word spread rapidly about the assault and arrangements were made for the Cranford group to meet in a car park in North Hyde Road at around 1845hrs.
Once the Cranford group were all gathered they made their way to a mini cab office in Southall. They reached the location at around 2045hrs and came across a then 15-year-old boy playing on an amusement game with a friend.
Several of the group attacked the boy 15-year-old boy who sustained severe cuts to the head and a broken elbow.
Amarjit Lochab then aged 17 years and Charandeep Dhariwal aged 19 years, were convicted for assaulting the boy. Lochab received four and a half years imprisonment in a Young Offenders Institute and Dhariwal was sentenced to three years in a Young Offenders Institute.
Following the attack a phone call was made to Harminder who was part of the Southall group and he was informed of the events that had taken place. He arrived at the mini cab officers soon after with other associates from the group.
Phone calls were made between the two groups and a short while later some of the Cranford group armed with weapons gathered in car park in North Hyde Road. They then made their way down Watersplash Lane and hid in a wooded area at the end of the road. The remainder of group waited in the car park for the Southall group to arrive to entice them into the wooded area.
A passing off duty Special Constable who had been driving along North Hyde Road witnessed the Southall group who were travelling in three vehicles pull up close to the junction of Watersplash Lane.
One of the vehicles drove off and continued along Watersplash Lane whilst the occupants of one of the other vehicles exited and reached into the boot and pulled out an array of weapons before running off. The off duty Special Constable immediately called the police.
The Cranford group on seeing the Southall group ran into the bushes where the others we still hiding. They all then rushed out and ambushed the Southall group. A fight ensued and Harmider was stabbed in his arm.
Harminder managed to run away and flagged down a passing motorist who took him to a nearby petrol station. The London Ambulance Service was called and Harminder was taken to hospital where he later died.
A post-mortem examination held at Uxbridge Mortuary on 8 February gave the cause of death as a stab wound to the upper arm.
In their haste to get away the Cranford group discarded a number of the weapons and clothing they were wearing during the attack. Some of the items including the clothing Uppal was wearing were later recovered by officers although the murder weapon was never recovered. Items of clothing were later forensically linked to Uppal.
On 9 February Harvinder Rai attended the passport office and was issued with a passport. He fled the UK for San Francisco. He was later traced to the United States and waived his extradition rights and returned to the UK May 1996. He stood trial in November 1996 and was convicted for manslaughter and was given five years imprisonment.
On 12 February Uppal attended the passport office. Three days later he boarded a flight on a one-way ticket bound for Delhi.
Uppal was arrested and later charged in 2013 after detectives received information that he would be returning to the UK.