A man who shot and killed an Indian student in a cold-blooded attack has been found guilty of murder.
Anuj Bidve, 23, was murdered in the early hours of Boxing Day 2011 after he and his friends were confronted by Kiaran Stapleton on Ordsall Lane in Salford.
Today, 26 July 2012, Stapleton (born 28/01/1991) was convicted of Anuj's murder following a trial. He will be sentenced tomorrow, Friday 27 July 2012, at Manchester Crown Court, Crown Square.
He had previously pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility, but this plea was not accepted by the Crown.
Anuj was visiting Manchester with friends and was heading into the city centre to queue for the sales when they saw two men on the opposite side of the road on Ordsall Lane.
One of these was Stapleton, who crossed the road and asked the group for the time. After one of the group replied, without warning or provocation Stapleton calmly produced a gun, placed it to Anuj's head and shot him. Witnesses reported that Stapleton either smirked or laughed afterwards.
Police were called and armed officers arrived and administered emergency first aid to Anuj, but he was later pronounced dead. A Home Office post-mortem examination confirmed he died as a result of a gunshot wound to the head.
In the days that followed, Stapleton got a tattoo of a teardrop under his right eye which in some street cultures could be a symbol of having killed someone.
As the police investigation unfolded, a key witness who was with Stapleton that night came forward with vital evidence about what happened.
Assistant Chief Constable Dawn Copley said: "Subhash and Yogini Bidve worked incredibly hard to send their son Anuj to England so he could get a good education and have the best possible start in life. However, their dreams were shattered because of the brutal and callous actions of Kiaran Stapleton.
"Today, the most important thing is that Anuj's family are here today to see their son's killer brought to justice, which is the very least they deserve. I can only hope that seeing Stapleton convicted will give the family some sense of justice as they continue to rebuild their lives after their devastating loss."
Detective Chief Superintendent Mary Doyle, who led the investigation, said: "There was absolutely nothing remarkable about Stapleton's history and nothing that would ever have suggested he could commit such a cold-blooded, random killing. I have personally not investigated a case like this ever before.
"When Anuj was taken from his family in the cruellest possible way, Greater Manchester Police's Major Incident Team, supported by a huge policing operation in Salford, launched a thorough and painstaking investigation to ensure that Anuj's killer was brought to justice.
"It is important now the case is concluded that we focus on the facts of what happened that night as there was a lot of speculation and rumour following Anuj's senseless killing. I cannot speculate on what Stapleton was thinking when he pulled the trigger, but it is also important for Anuj's family and everyone around the world who was affected by this murder that we are clear about the facts.
"Our investigation found no evidence that Anuj was targeted because of his race. We have no evidence that racist comments were made and there appears to be no motivation for Stapleton other than tragically Anuj and his friends were in the wrong place at the wrong time. He had a gun in his pocket and he used it on the first person he came across. This was a cold-blooded, motiveless killing for which he has shown no remorse and only Stapleton knows why he committed such a horrific act that night.
"What we were able to prove was that Stapleton got a tattoo very soon after he killed Anuj which we believe may have been some sort of boast or badge of honour. If that is true, such a cold and brazen act tells its own story about what sort of man he is.
"However, he did not get away with it and today he has been brought to justice."
Chief Superintendent Kevin Mulligan, divisional commander for Salford said: "Firstly I want to again express my deepest sympathies to Anuj Bidve's family.
"Anuj came to England to study and fulfil his and his family's dreams, so to have those dreams taken away in such painful and senseless circumstances is something no-one should have to endure. They have suffered unimaginable trauma and I echo the thoughts of everyone in hoping that seeing justice done will give them some comfort.
"Anuj's murder caused complete shock and outrage in our community. People in Ordsall, and across Salford, were absolutely appalled this happened on their doorsteps and there was an outpouring of anger and grief from everyone who lives here. What also struck me in the days and weeks that followed was that our close-knit community pulled together to assist the investigation. The fact that hundreds of people in this area came to pay their respects at Anuj's vigil shows the strength of feeling in this community.
"It is also important to stress that it was information that came directly from this community that led to Stapleton being charged. In the days after Anuj's murder we personally visited every home in Ordsall and the overwhelming feeling was one of wanting to secure justice for the family.
"I completely understand that people in this country and in India will be looking at Salford and asking questions about how safe it is to live and work here. I know from speaking to the community that people were upset about how this city has been portrayed. Ordsall has undergone a huge regeneration in recent years and the population has doubled. It is true that we have had shootings in this area in the past year, so we have increased our police presence to reassure what is now a much larger community and things have improved dramatically.
"Across Salford, crime has fallen significantly in the last four or five years, and the quality of people's lives has also improved. We are working very hard with our partner agencies and Salford City Council to ensure it is a safe place to work, live and study.
"However, let me be clear that Anuj's tragic death was not about organised criminality or about Salford as a community. Living in Salford is not what motivated Stapleton to do what he did: it was the inexplicable actions of one man who targeted a young man with his whole life ahead of him for no apparent reason whatsoever, and again our thoughts are first and foremost with Anuj's family for their devastating loss."