Three Asian men told by a Birmingham judge they would “serve a minimum of 25 years” for murdering a black man in the 2005 Lozells riots have had their convictions quashed.
Waqar Ahmed, 28, Azhil Khan, 25 and Afzal Khan, 25, denied stabbing IT worker Isaiah Young-Sam, 23, in a violent Saturday night of rioting involving Asian and black communities.
Mr Young-Sam was stabbed to death by thugs who ambushed him yards from his home as he and friends tried to avoid rioters.
The trio from Handsworth were found guilty at Birmingham Crown Court and sentenced to life in prison in 2006.
Yesterday, an Appeal Court judge in London said their convictions should be quashed because evidence was wrongly used in the trial. The court revealed a secret recording of one of the defendants encouraging another man to confess was not disclosed to the defence.
The judge said this meant the conviction was unsafe and consequently those of the other two men. The three convicted of stabbing Mr Young Sam maintained a fourth man was to blame.
On October 22, 2005, up to 35 people were injured in street fights, numerous cars set alight and shops looted. The violence followed unsubstantiated rumours a group of Asian men raped a 14-year-old black girl.
Scuffles carried on over the weekend and another man, Aaron James, 18, died after he was shot in the head in an area close to the riot scenes.
A spokesman for the Crown Prosecution Service said a re-trial had been ordered, but no date had been fixed.
A West Midlands Police spokesman said they “acknowledged” the ruling and would await the trial.
A study commissioned by Birmingham City Council last year concluded the violence may have been caused by problems including drugs gangs, high unemployment, overcrowding and ethnic tensions.
The council vowed to monitor “community tension” to prevent a repeat.
Measures were set out in guidance by local government secretary Hazel Blears. After a trial on Wednesday, a cocaine addict was jailed for 10 years for playing a leading role in the Lozells riots. Ameachine Okereke, 34, from Handsworth among men who attacked a shop.