Finding Shah : Drug related murder in Hounslow

The court heard how the murder was carried out behind the doors of a family plumbing business on an industrial estate in Hounslow on 7 May 2019.

A short time before Tuesday, 7 May,2019-  Shah had been asked to look after a large amount of cannabis (5 kilos) on behalf of a local drug dealer. He had given some of the drugs (1 kilo with a street value of approximately £5k) to a friend, Amraj Poonia, to look after, but Poonia stole the drugs instead and staged a ‘theft’ of them from a car as a cover for this.



This ‘loss’ of drugs, with a value of £5k, left Shah in debt to the local drug dealer for that amount and, believing Poonia to be responsible, caused increasing animosity between Amraj Poonia and his associate, Mohanad Riad, and Shah and his two brothers. There followed assaults against Amraj Poonia and Riad by the Subhanis and, as a result, threats were made against them for retribution for this.

On Tuesday, 7 May 2019 Shah travelled to Acton police station where he was hoping to pick up £4,800 that had been previously been seized by police on a separate matter. However, the money could not be restored to him and this meant that Shah was unable to compensate the local dealer for his ‘debt’.

Instead, and whilst at the police station, contact was made between Amraj Poonia and Shah and an agreement to meet at Poonia’s family plumbing business. Shah drove his Audi Q3 to the Derby Road industrial estate in Hounslow and, on arrival, made a phone call to Poonia and entered the family plumbing premises at 15:19hrs, parking his car outside.

Shortly after entering the premises Shah was murdered.

By 15:46hrs, nearby CCTV recorded Raneel Poonia and an unidentified male leaving the premises, with their hoods up on what was a summer’s day, before getting in Shah’s Audi Q3 and driving it away.


Amraj Poonia and the deceased body of Shah were still inside the premises.

Audi Q3

Shah’s car was subsequently found by police on 19 June 2019 in North London, having also been fitted with false number plates. Mohanad Riad, as associate of Amraj Poonia, was found to have used his mother’s mobile telephone to send a text message to a number plate provider on 7 May stating “yo bro, I need some plates done” in relation to the Q3’s false plates. Mahamud Ismail was also involved in attempted to source false plates.

At 18:41hrs on 8 May, Raneel Poonia returned to the plumbing premises in a different car, reversing it towards the closed shutters of the premises. Both he and Amraj Poonia, lifted Shah’s body from the plumbers and into the rear of a vehicle. Amraj Poonia then, despite murdering Shah and removing his body from the premises, went to Shah’s home address that same evening and pretended to share his family’s concerns. To reinforce this pretence, he called Shah’s phone four times in an effort to make it look like he was unaware he was dead.

Shah’s body was kept in the boot of a car in an unknown location within Hounslow whilst Amraj Poonia and his associates planned on where and how to dispose of it. In the early hours of Saturday 11 May 2019, Raneel Poonia and Mahamud Ismail, along with another person, drove out in a two car convoy to a small village in Buckinghamshire, called Hedgerley, near Gerrards Cross.

Bluebell woods

There in the middle of the night, they set fire to Shah’s body and then buried it in a shallow grave in woodland, next to the roadside. The other person cannot be named for legal reasons but assisted the police investigation to later recover the remains of Shah’s body and provide critical witness evidence for the prosecution at trial.

The family of Shah, exceptionally concerned for his welfare had reported him missing on 7 May and a full missing person investigation commenced. As part of the efforts by the Subhani family to find their brother, they attended Derby Road industrial estate to conduct their own CCTV enquiries on 13 May. Here they encountered Amraj Poonia and a fight ensued between him and the Subhani brothers, with Amraj keen to prevent their efforts. As a result of the fight, police were called as Poonia had been captured on bus CCTV footage to be in possession of a large knife.

After the fight, a witness described how they had heard Amraj Poonia say to one of the brothers “I will kill you like I killed your brother”. Amraj Poonia was arrested for the affray and, just after his arrest, he was recorded on an officers’ body worn video saying “I’m telling you this on live camera (He then named one of Shah’s brothers). You pig rat, snitch, gangster wannabe, you’re dead, yeah.”


Following the fight, officers conducted an extensive forensic search of the plumbing business and small samples of blood were located. These were later matched and confirmed to be that of Shah. As such, the investigation was passed to a Homicide team of the Met’s Specialist Crime Command.

Despite the review by Homicide detectives of extensive CCTV footage, phone data analysis and ANPR enquiries, and a number of early arrests and interviews of the defendants, the body of Shah could not be located and, at that stage, there was insufficient evidence to charge the suspects.

Six months later, a breakthrough in the investigation occurred when the unnamed person present at the burial site, and not involved in the murder, walked into a police station and provided information about the location of the body and assisted police to locate it. An extensive excavation of a large area of woodland and forensic examination of the scene took place, utilising specialist scientific experts.

The remains of Shah were located, despite the ravages of weather and wildlife. However, the subsequent post mortem was unable to determine the cause of death, due to the loss of some of the remains, significantly, the hyoid bone. The pathologist did, however, comment that the circumstances of the burial indicated an ‘unnatural death’.

Following a combined effort between the Met, the Crown Prosecution Service and the National Crime Agency, the evidence of the unnamed person at the burial was secured into a legislative framework, suitable for trial. Through this and other evidence, six defendants were charged for their part in the murder and subsequent cover up. Amraj Poonia claimed that he, and he alone, had killed Shah and that this had been in self-defence. However, after hearing all of the evidence the jury found his guilty of Shah’s murder, dismissing his explanation.

Shah’s sister, Iqra, said in a tribute to her brother:

“He was kind, he was helpful, and he was courageous. He was an amazing son, an amazing brother, an amazing partner and was an amazing uncle at the time. And I know had his daughter met him and known him, she would say I have the best dad ever.

“We would like to thank Vicky [DCI Tunstall] and all your team and every single officer that helped recover my brother’s remains. And everyone that helped in playing a part in getting Shah the justices he deserves.”

The investigation, spanning four years, included securing a significant amount of police witness and suspect interviews, hours of CCTV examination, extensive phone analysis, witness appeals and, ultimately, an extensive and meticulous search of an area, recovering the body of Shah Subhani.

Mohammed Shah Subhani, who was known as Shah, disappeared on Tuesday, 7 May 2019 in the Derby Road area of Hounslow and his remains were eventually found in a rural woodland near Beaconsfield on Thursday, 19 December 2019.

On Thursday, 27 July following a trial at the Old Bailey the following people were convicted:

– Amraj Poonia – 27 (08.09.95) of Farmfield Drive, Horley was found guilty of murder – he had pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice at an earlier hearing.

– Raneel Poonia – 26 (10.06.97) of Whitehouse Way, Slough was found guilty of perverting the course of justice. He was found not guilty of murder or manslaughter.

– Mohanad Riad – 23 (18.07.00) of Chrislea Close, Hounslow was found guilty of perverting the course of justice.

– Mahamud Ismail – 26 (16.09.96) of Albany Road, Brentford was found guilty of perverting the course of justice.

All four will be sentenced at the same court at a later date.

Detective Chief Inspector Vicky Tunstall, said: “We have achieved justice for Shah, his family and his partner by securing these convictions against the man responsible for his cowardly murder and those who helped to dispose of his body.

“This has been a terrible ordeal for his family and, by listening to the evidence presented within the trial of his murder and disposal, they have been exposed to detail that no family should ever have to know about their loved ones. But through a determination to know the truth and, with their support, courage and tenacity, we have secured justice and I hope these convictions bring about some peace for them as a family and an opportunity to move forward. That the defendants in this case were long standing friends of the family has made for the ultimate of betrayals.

“I would like to pay tribute to the exceptional dedication and commitment of the prosecution team that achieved these convictions – this has truly been a team effort and a collaboration that has provided great strength to our combined efforts. I would personally like to thank the Prosecution Counsel, the Homicide Team from the Crown Prosecution Service and the National Crime Agency and recognise the incredible support they have provided to my team during this investigation.

“Importantly, I’d like to acknowledge the tireless and meticulous work that my team of detectives has conducted across a four-year period. This has been the most complex and challenging of cases and has involved rarely used legislation and law enforcement tactics that generally only occur once in a police career, if at all. It has been a privilege to lead this investigation and navigate the obstacles that have been presented throughout.

“Amraj Poonia is a dangerous individual and I have no doubt that the streets of west London are far safer now he, and his accomplices, have been convicted – I hope that this outcome and the diligent investigation that led to their conviction improves the trust that communities can have in the Metropolitan Police.”

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