Burglar who tied up pensioner and left him to die is given 33-year minimum term

Adris Mohammed showed no emotion as a judge described the murder of 78-year-old David Varlow as ‘an horrific case’.

09 June 2022

A serial burglar who tied a pensioner to a chair and left him to die has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 33 years

Adris Mohammed waited nine days before returning to David Varlow’s home to untie his body, and used the 78-year-old’s bank card to withdraw cash from his account.

Prosecutors said Mohammed, 44, knew Mr Varlow had died alone and had not been able to free himself because his stolen bank card had not been cancelled.

Post-mortem tests were unable to establish when Mr Varlow died, but he is thought to have suffered a stress-induced heart attack at his home in Manor Lane, Halesowen, West Midlands.

Jailing Mohammed on Thursday at Birmingham Crown Court, Judge Melbourne Inman QC said the murder in November last year could “only properly be described as an horrific case”.

The judge ruled that Mohammed had intended to kill, telling the drug user: “What neither the pathology nor any other evidence can show is when Mr Varlow died between the 3rd of November and the 11th of November.

“The harsh reality is that it is not known whether he survived for hours or days. The major aggravating factor is the terrible nature of this killing and the suffering of Mr Varlow, left as he was.

“Having seen you give evidence it’s clear you have not a shred of remorse. You knew Mr Varlow would be at home and when you confronted him you set about a deliberate and calculated course of action in tying him in the way you did.

“You intended to kill him by leaving him immobile without food or water. It is to be hoped Mr Varlow did suffer his heart attack quickly, but the seriousness of the offence is increased by the suffering that you intended.”

Mohammed had rendered his victim “utterly helpless and in a position that would have been very difficult even for a short time for anyone” let alone an elderly man, Judge Inman said.

Adris Mohammed court case
David Varlow (West Midlands Police/PA)

The judge said Mohammed had mounted an “absurd” defence, and added: “Mr Varlow must have been terrified. He must have pleading with you not to leave him in that position.

“That is because Mr Varlow knew that no one would know he was there for a very long time, his brother would not call for nearly two weeks, and that he would die. That is what you intended.

“You left him helpless, without any way of getting food or water, with the curtains closed, and you left. You knew it would take a considerable time to empty his bank account without alerting the bank and you ensured Mr Varlow would never be able to alert them.”

Mohammed, who used telephone wire to tie up Mr Varlow, was found guilty last month of murder, attempted burglary and two counts each of fraud and burglary.

The killer, from Icknield Port Road, Birmingham, denied any involvement in the death, claiming someone else had asked him to take part in removal work.

Opening the Crown’s case at the start of the trial, prosecutor Peter Grieves-Smith said Mohammed went to Mr Varlow’s home three times between October 24 and November 12.

The prosecutor told the court Mohammed tried unsuccessfully to break into the property on his first visit but went back in the early hours of November 3.

David Varlow
Mohammed broke into Mr Varlow’s home in November (West Midlands Police/PA)

Mohammed is then believed to have used a knife to force Mr Varlow to reveal his PIN, aiming to withdraw as much money as possible from an account holding £19,000.

As well as allowing others to use the stolen card to withdraw thousands of pounds, Mohammed used the card himself to steal £550, enabling him to buy a bangle which he pawned in Stafford.

The body of Mr Varlow, who was 5ft 6in, was found on the floor close to a discarded knife – with his untied arms “almost crossed” behind his back.

Computer-generated images of Mr Varlow’s body and his living room were presented to the jury, showing his ankles with bands of injuries consistent with ligatures.

There were also binding marks to both wrists and ankles, with evidence of two separate wrappings around his arms.

Co-defendant O’Shay Swan, 42, of Winson Green Road, Birmingham, was jailed for six years for burglary and fraud after going with Mohammed to Manor Lane on November 11-12, and being involved in using Mr Varlow’s bank card.

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