THE sister of Shafilea Ahmed has escaped a jail sentence for organising a violent robbery at the family home because she saw her sister brutally murdered.
Southwark Crown Court heard today of the 'extraordinary mitigation' of Alesha Ahmed, aged 24, who orchestrated the robbery at 151 Liverpool Road, Great Sankey on August 25, 2010. Mr Justice Irwin described it as a 'truly exceptional sentencing exercise'.
He sentenced Ms Ahmed, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery, to 12 months in prison, suspended for two years.
Mr Irwin said: "Alesha Ahmed, yours is an extraordinary and terrifying story.
"You were 15 years of age when your parents murdered your older sister Shafilea in front of your eyes.
"You were forced for years to carry this darkest of secrets, as your parents sought to evade justice.
"You brought men to the house for the purpose of robbery.
"You acknowledge you knew that was the purpose.
"The psychiatrist has considered your culpability in relation to the robbery and the motivation for it.
"He suggests that it took place in the context of a 'very disturbed state of mind'.
"Your parents were suspected of the murder from early on.
"However, in 2006 Queen's Counsel had advised there was insufficient evidence available for a successful prosecution.
"It was your cooperation which changed that.
"Because of what you did the truth emerged.
"The complex cases unit of the Crown Prosecution Service have struggled to identify any other case where the assistance of a witness has been as important as yours, or where the impact of the case of that witness has been so great." Ms Ahmed was described as the inside woman on the job.
The court heard how mum Farzana, brother Junyad, sister Mevish and the youngest sister, who cannot be named, were tied up by masked men armed with a semi automatic pistol, hammer and metal bar during the 'terrifying' raid.
Junyad, aged 22, was kicked in the head with metal capped boots, and 21-year-old Mevish was beaten with the hammer.
The pistol was pointed at 49-year-old Farzana with the gunman threatening to kill the whole family.
Prosecuting, Owen Edwards described how Alesha was heard to talk to the gang, their faces covered with scarves and masks, telling them to knock down a door to get to valuables. She was the only one not to be tied up.
Jewellery was taken at an estimated value of between £10,000 and £30,000.
Cash to the value of £3,000 was also taken. Junyad and the youngest sibling managed to break free with the elder brother attempting to fight one of the intruders. He was then beaten.
The sibling smashed a window with the hammer to scream for help.
After witnesses were alerted and the men left, Ms Ahmed too attempted to leave but was stopped by her angry family, the court heard.
Police arrived and then arrested Ms Ahmed, who admitted the robbery.
Defending, Isabella Forshall QC said the events had been traumatic and that the former Great Sankey High School pupil deserved to avoid prison.
"This particular house was a killing ground for Shafilea," said Mrs Forshall.
"And its privacy was a scene and instrument of brutal oppression for Shafilea and the other children.
"It really is a case where my lord can look very differently at the seriousness of the offence. "Within days she provided a devastating statement about the murder of her sister to police.
"She rendered a valuable service not just to Shafilea and justice but to our community and society." Ms Ahmed, who pleased guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery, will remain in witness protection.
Mr Irwin added: "Your future life will be overshadowed by all that has happened and it may be a long time before you achieve peace of mind and anything like normality. In my view this is a case for mercy."
Iftikhar Ahmed and Farzana Ahmed are currently serving life sentences for murder.