Changing the criminal justice system


Mohammed Rahman, PhD researcher

Aims of research

The research aimed to address the lack of correlation and clarity surrounding organised crime, particularly its connections to murder. The study, conducted by the University’s Centre of Applied Criminology researcher Mohammed Rahman, explored the correlations between organised crime and extreme violence, while trying to reverse the lack of discreet offences for organised crime.

Method of research

To understand the link between organised crime and fatal violence, Mohammed used the 2003 Aston New Year shootings as a case study. The report he used, ‘Understanding Organised Crime and Fatal Violence in Birmingham: A Case Study of the 2003 New Year Shootings’, details the events which led to the murder of two women and involved two organised crime fraternities, the Burger Bar Boys and the Johnson Crew.

This new research showed the two gangs would maintain and advance their enterprises through violent, often fatal means, as well as committing violent crimes to prove masculinity and to get revenge.

Mohammed also spent time with members of the criminal underworld, including a retired ‘enforcer’ for the Burger Bar Boys. Spending time with those connected to the case enabled Mohammed to gain more understanding of organised criminality.

The Aston New Year shootings were also investigated further, with Mohammed conducting extensive reports and re-enactments to decipher the accuracy of witness statements.


The new study proved that there was an overlooked and under-researched correlation between organised crime and murder. With the current administrative defect costing the UK in excess of £24 billion, the study pushed for a legislation to help law enforcement agencies in their operational duties.

By visiting the murder site of the shootings, Mohammed was able to reveal that the testimony provided by an anonymous witness was false. The witness, known as ‘Mark Brown’, confirmed he had seen defendant Marcus Ellis, but Mohammed’s re-enactments concluded the lack of light would have made such an identification impossible.