Tipu Sultan murder trial: No 'clear motive' for killing of takeaway boss, court told

Tipu Sultan
Tipu Sultan

A true motive behind the murder of a popular takeaway boss may forever remain a mystery, a court has heard.

Tipu Sultan was "executed" by two men who pulled up outside Herbs & Spice at Lake Avenue in South Shields on a motorbike last April 7, a jurt at Newcastle Crown Court was told.

The 32-year-old, from Sunderland, was blasted in the neck by a sawn-off shotgun and died from "extensive trauma and blood loss".

It is claimed the motorbike passenger approached the shop and carried out the killing of the married dad while the rider waited to get them away from the scene straight afterwards.

The court heard children were in the vicinity of the shooting at the time.

Prosecutors claim Michael Mullen, 24, of Hawthorne Avenue, South Shields, was the rider of the motorbike and Michael McDougall, 47, of Hylton Avenue, South Shields, was the passenger who carried out the act of killing.

Prosecutor Richard Wright QC told the court robbery appears to be an unlikely motive behind the murder and an unknown grudge or even mistaken identity may lie behind it.

Mr Wright said while Mr Sultan had had money worries and enjoyed gambling in the past, there was nothing in his background to suggest he would become a target.

Mr Wright said: "There does not appear to have been any clear motive for any person to want to harm Tipu Sultan, let alone kill him.

"Whether they bore him a grudge, whether they acted on instructions of others, whether they killed the wrong man or something altogether else lay behind the shooting matters little, perhaps.

"The prosecution does not have to prove motive for his murder, we have an obligation to prove who killed Tipu Sultan and we will do that by focusing on the clear evidence it was these two , acting together, who did just that."

The court heard Mr Sultan had been working at his takeaway with his father and their hired chef when a man came to the door at the back of the premises.

Without making any demand or real conversation, the visitor opened fire with the shotgun he was carrying.

Mr Sultan suffered a severe wound to his neck and died quickly from the injury.

Prosecutors claim it was McDougall who "coldly gunned down" Mr Sultan and that Mullen was the driver who took them to and from the murder scene.

Mr Wright said both men were "equally responsible" for the death.

McDougall and Mullen both deny murder, manslaughter and possession of a firearm.

Mullen denies a charge of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

McDougall denies a further charge of possession of a firearm.

The court heard Mullen "will accept" he was the rider of the bike and may blame McDougall for the shooting, which he accepts no responsibility for.

McDougall denies being at the scene at all.

The court heard forensic testing can prove a shotgun had previously been discharged at McDougall's home.

A sawn off shotgun found on wasteland close to an address associated to McDougall could be scientifically linked to him.

Mr Wright added: "The recovered gun may not be the murder weapon but it is further evidence that connects McDougall to precisely the type of weapon used to shoot Tipu Sultan."

Both men deny the charges they face.

Jurors were shown CCTV footage of the motorbike, which was later found burnt out, just before and after the killing.

The trial, which could take four weeks, continues.