Chesterfield man Andy Star tells of his suffering after being cleared of terror plot

A former Chesterfield fish and chip shop owner has spoken of the suffering he has endured - after he was cleared of preparing to commit acts of terrorism.

Monday, 15th July 2019, 12:01 pm
Andy Star.

Jurors failed to reach a verdict on Andy Star - despite finding his co-accused Farhad Salah, of Brunswick Road, Sheffield, guilty of the same offence at Sheffield Crown Court.

During a five-week trial, prosecutors said that Salah, 24, and Mr Star, 32, were in the early stages of testing small improvised explosive devices when they were arrested in high-profile raids on their homes - a Sheffield community centre and the Mermaid Traditional Fish on Sheffield Road, Chesterfield - in December 2017.

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Andy Star.

Mr Star has always insisted that gunpowder and other items found in his flat above the fish and chip shop were all connected to his long-standing interest in fireworks.

After being cleared by jurors on Friday, Mr Star told reporters: "I was being nicknamed 'The Christmas Bomber'. They said 'Terrorist Arrested', they suggested there was to be a potential attack on a Christmas market.

"Media outlets around the world were running the story of the raid in Chesterfield."

Mr Star, who is from Kurdistan in Iraq, added: "They suggested this was the UK's first bomb making factory, we were members of ISIS, we were planning on using driverless cars.

Farhad Salah.

"I feared the worst and having seen the legal system in Kurdistan and Iraq I prepared for the worst.

"I denied being an Isis supporter, I denied being a terrorist, I explained that my family had fought Isis and we continue to do so to this day."

He was arrested on suspicion of being an illegal immigrant in 2008 and told officials he had arrived in the UK by lorry but he was given refugee status with 'indefinite leave to remain' in February 2016.

The former Iraqi police officer said: "All my life has involved suffering.

Police outside the Mermaid Traditional Fish Bar on Sheffield Road in Chesterfield in December 2017.

"Suffering endless wars in Kurdistan, suffering death threats as a police officer, suffering poverty, lacking basic essentials that people around the world consider the norm, food, accommodation, security.

"Fighting for my liberty, fighting for justice, fighting so all those people from my family and amongst my friends who had fought against terrorists and had lost their lives did not feel that I had let them down.

"I was not a terrorist. I would like to give special thanks to Judge Watson, the jury, my friends, old employees and their families, they stood with me, stepped up against the pressure and restored my faith in humanity."

Judge Paul Watson QC told jurors they were the second to have tried the pair.

Police and the bomb squad on Sheffield Road in Chesterfield in December 2017.

He said that another jury failed to reach verdicts on either defendant after a trial last year.

The court was told that Mr Star will not face a third trial but will continue to be detained on immigration matters.

Salah is to be sentenced on July 24.