On a quiet November afternoon in 2015 in Bradford new police recruit Sharon Beshenivsky was looking forward to finishing her shift and returning home to her daughter’s fourth birthday. Thirty minutes before her shift ended she and colleague Teresa drove to Morley Street in Bradford. A silent panic alarm had been activated at a travel agency and they went to investigate.
Sharon would not return home. In the doorway she sensed something wasn’t right. Suddenly she received a gunshot into her chest, her head fell to the right and she collapsed. Her partner Teresa was shot too and pressed the panic button on her radio to summon help. Police cars and ambulances raced to the scene and found two bleeding police officers. A London crime gang had been committing a vicious violent armed robbery at the travel agency. They had bound and pistol-whipped the staff and then escaped with £5,405 in a convoy of cars.
Back at home Sharon’s husband was waiting to get the party started and had been under orders to get the cake and celebrations ready. However the police arrived and rushed him to hospital where Sharon died. She’d only been in the police for nine months and was the seventh female officer to die in the line of duty in England and Wales. She left behind three children and two stepchildren.
The robbers had been Somali brothers Mustaf Jama and Yusaf Jama – also Muzzaker Imtiaz. All were convicted and imprisoned. Jama tried fleeing to Somalia but was extradited two years later. He was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 35 years. Jama and Shah appealed for their sentences to be reduced but the High Court rejected them. Perhaps they could be bathed in blood and made to run across the lion compound at Longleat stately home. The mastermind of the robbery 50-year-old Piran Ditta Khan is reported to still be hiding in Pakistan despite a reward of £20,000 for his information leading to his arrest.
Sharon’s funeral took place on 6th January 2006 at Bradford Cathedral and 400 police officers attended. She lies in Nab Wood cemetery in Shipley and I went to see if I could fine the grave.
A woman blocked in my car with hers and later in the cemetery said, “I’ve not blocked you in have I?” I told her I was going to be here for a while so take your time (she was tending her husband’s grave.) She did take her time and I’d found the grave and had time to have a cup of coffee, sandwiches and crisps in my car before she returned to her car.
I found Sharon’s grave quickly and was disappointed to find there was still no headstone. I’d read in the newspaper there’d be a row about it. Sharon’s mum and stepfather say they have begged her widower Paul to put up a fitting memorial to their daughter but he says he cannot find the right words for a suitable epitaph. They wanted to pay for a headstone themselves but legally aren’t allowed to put it on the grave.
There doesn’t seem to be a headstone…
No headstone at the grave but there is in Norfolk Gardens in central Bradford….
Pointing to the robbers who caused misery…
Some war graves nearby….always worth a salute…