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Deaths 'result of chariot charge'

Three men who died after they were deliberately run into by a car during last summer's riots were murdered in a modern-day "chariot charge" after days of simmering tensions, a court has heard.

Jurors at Birmingham Crown Court heard that Haroon Jahan, 20, and brothers Shazad Ali, 30, and Abdul Musavir, 31, were hit by a Mazda car during disorder in the Winson Green area of Birmingham in the early hours of August 10, as disorder swept across England.

Loud gasps were heard in the court as CCTV footage of the fatal impact was shown, and the victims' family members sobbed in the public gallery. The images clearly show the three men being flung into the air after being hit by the car. They were pronounced dead in hospital.

Prosecutor Tim Spencer QC, who warned the jury about the "shocking circumstances", said: "The driving you have just seen was not chance, it was not accidental.

"It was deliberate and co-ordinated. It was the modern-day equivalent of a chariot charge. And it was deadly."

Moments after the footage was shown, a heated argument broke out in the public gallery, leading the judge, Mr Justice Flaux, to clear the court for a short time.

Ryan Goodwin, 21, Shaun Flynn, 26, Juan Ruiz-Gaviria, 31, Joshua Donald, 27, Everton Graham, 30, Adam King, 24, Ian Beckford, 30, and Aaron Parkins, 18, all deny three counts of murder.

Jurors heard that on the evenings of August 8 and 9 local businesses, including mobile phone shops, a petrol station and a social club, were targeted by rioters.

Mr Spencer said the fatal collision followed days of growing tension in the area between gangs of youths in cars and crowds of mostly Asian men from the community. He told the court that some of a group of between 50 and 100 Asian men on the streets were armed with sticks, batons and bats, and that other members of the Asian group had picked up bricks or rocks after beginning to gather at around 9.30pm on August 9 to prevent looters from targeting local businesses.

Mr Spencer told the court the defendants were in three separate black cars: a Ford Fiesta, a Mazda and an Audi A3 Sport Quattro. He said one witness described seeing a man shouting from a window of the Mazda: "Pakis, Pakis, we're coming back for you."

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