A glamorous businesswoman who helped her drug dealer boyfriend commit crime and then lied to police to cover for him after a drive-by shooting has narrowly avoided jail.
Zain Sarfraz, who runs a successful make up brand, hired cars for his former partner, and gave him cash to buy drugs to sell on.
After a drive-by shooting in Cheetham Hill, which her boyfriend was alleged to be involved in, Sarfraz called police and claimed a Mercedes she had hired for him had been stolen.
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Shots were fired at two men, who were seriously hurt in November 2019.
At the time, Sarfraz didn’t know the car had been involved in a shooting.
But in an interview with police two weeks later when she knew about the incident, she maintained her lie and claimed the car had been stolen.
Manchester Crown Court heard Sarfraz was in ‘love’ with her boyfriend, and that she wanted them to get married.
“She put her loyalty to him above the requirements of the criminal law,” prosecutor Alexandra Sutton said.
During their relationship Sarfraz handed him cash to make bulk purchases of drugs and hired cars for him, knowing he was a drug dealer.
Sometimes she ‘lambasted’ him and urged him to get a legitimate job, but on other occasions she actively helped him.
A Mercedes hired by Sarfraz was used in a drive by shooting on the afternoon of Friday, November 19.
The car drove past a cafe off Cheetham Hill Road and shots were fired at two men, who suffered serious leg injuries.
The Mercedes was abandoned. Hours later, Sarfraz reported the car as having been stolen from outside her mother-in-law’s house.
In an interview with police two weeks later, she maintained that the car had been stolen.
“The lying snowballed as it often does,” her barrister Paul Hodgkinson said.
“She didn’t think of the consequences, and prioritized her relationship over staying within the law.
“Partly because of her love for her boyfriend, as foolish as that may be.
“She has to accept she had made some truly, truly dreadful decisions during the course of that relationship.”
Sarfraz, of Hyde Park Road, Halifax, pleaded guilty to two counts of perverting the course of justice, and two counts of assisting the commission of an offence.
Mr Hodgkinson told how she has since left her former partner and set up a successful make up brand and business, employing four people.
“You have a very different individual in front of you today, than you would have had in 2019,” he told the judge, appealing for him to avoid sending Sarfraz to jail.
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She was previously remanded in prison for almost a month, and spent time observing a curfew which meant she’d served the equivalent of an 18 month prison sentence.
“I note that you have quite good educational qualifications, that you have a successful working life, that you are loved by friends and family, that you come from what is described as a respectable background and I see the promise that you have to be a decent member of society,” Judge Nicholas Dean QC told her.
“But you were not that for a period of time, you involved yourself in serious offending.
“I don’t take the view that you were blinded by him, or in any real way manipulated by him.
“This was misplaced loyalty.”
But the judge said jailing Sarfraz would be ‘pointless’.
He said: “You have recognized your own stupidity and you have taken great steps to rehabilitate yourself.
“Ms Sarfraz, be under no illusions about how close you have come to prison today.”
Instead the judge handed her a two year prison sentence, suspended for two years, and fined her £5,000.
She was also ordered to complete 200 hours of unpaid work, and observe a curfew from 10pm to 7am for six months.