How a Chorley armed robber turned his life around - and the message he wants to send to teenagers going down the wrong path
A Chorley father-of-two wants to tell youngsters not to do what he did, after realising a crime he committed as a teenager “will never go away”.
Twenty-nine-year-old Zaishan Jahangir spent eight years in prison after pleading guilty to being part of a gang that robbed families at gunpoint in their own homes in 2010.
Judge Timothy Clayson is described in news reports of the time as saying the attacks were “extremely serious” and a display of “extremely frightening violence”.
Despite serving his time in jail, going through restorative justice with his victims, turning his life around and starting a family, Zaishan is still struggling to get a job and lead a normal life because of his convictions.
He has been rejected for countless jobs after DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) checks are carried out, and has only a small skillset because of the time he spent in prison rather than education.
Because of internet news reports of his crime, he says it will never go away, and is dreading the moment he has to explain the articles to his two children.
Now he wants youngsters who find themselves in the position he was as a teenager, to know the shame he carries, and the lasting effects of crime on both the victims and perpetrators.
What did he do and why?
Zaishan was 18 years old and from a well-respected family when he became part of a gang who robbed two families in Daubhill, Bolton, at gunpoint for jewellery and cash.
In 2011 he was sentenced to eight years in prison.
He said: “I can finally talk about it after all these years. I have had time to reflect on what I did.”
He added: “At that moment in life when I committed the robbery, I was naive, not career-focused and just hanging around in groups. I didn’t know what I wanted to do in my life and felt a little lost.
“At the time of the robbery I was under the influence of alcohol, but this cannot be used as an excuse. We decided to go ahead with an unplanned robbery, it was spur of the moment and the most regrettable thing in my life. This changed my life forever.
Was he remorseful?
He said: “I lost all my teenage years, and it mentally broke me down over the years I spent in prison. I lost the opportunity to go to college or university, missed out on spending time with my family.
“Some days in prison I would be suicidal. The thought of what I have put the victims through and my family with all the chaos I left behind. It was nothing to be proud of.
“I had eight years behind walls and no freedom. This gave me lots of time to reflect, to think 'why did I do it?'.
“For years I woke up thinking the same thing, why did I do this? The regret was painful."
Were his family ashamed?
He said: “My father owns an Asian gold shop in Bolton (MJ Gold Center) and he is a goldsmith by trade.
“Due to what I did, the community automatically assumed my father must have been involved because he owns a gold shop.
“So after all the effort and years my father put into his business, it was tarnished because of what I had done. One silly thoughtless act.
“My father lost a lot of respect for me and the shame I had bought on our family. My father lost al ot of respect from the community and lost business due to my senseless act.”
Zaishan was given the chance to take part in a restorative justice programme while at HMP Lancaster Farm.
Restorative Justice gives victims the chance to meet or communicate with their offenders to explain the real impact of the crime - it empowers victims by giving them a voice. It also holds offenders to account for what they have done and helps them to take responsibility and make amends.
Zaishan said: “Meeting the victims was the hardest thing I have done in my life, knowing what I had done to them.
“I was willing to accept any punishment they wanted to give me. I would have accepted it.
Even though there was a group of us involved, I should have been the one to stop all of them.”
Recently, he has expanded on the restorative justice work, in conjunction with Chorley businessman Shaz Malik, who has previously helped a business rival get his taxi badges back.
>>>Click here to read about Shaz’s work with the ‘Taxi King’.
Zaishan said: “I met up with Shaz Malik at his office in Chorley. He rang me and told me he wanted to speak to the victims and make sure everything that I had told him was accurate.
Shaz explained to me, ‘I can see you want to better yourself and I can see you have major regrets with what you have done, it’s how you fix them and you cannot move on until every step is fixed’.
A couple of days later, Shaz spoke with the victim’s family and they had told him they had forgiven Zaishan.
He added: “Shaz told me something which stuck with me. He said: ‘Some people would rather die than to forgive. Forgiveness is a painful and a difficult process. It’s not something that happens overnight because we as humans are not designed to forgive easily. If the victims have forgiven you, it means you have been given a chance of a new beginning and now you need to help others along the way.”
Part of Zaishan’s new beginning is to share his story with those who could find themselves on the same path
He said: “My message to the youngsters thinking of doing anything similar to what I did is: please stop and think.
“Invest your time in education or a career. If your actions will affect anyone negatively then stop and think. Spending years of your life in prison isn’t worth it.
“The embarrassment will stick with you for life. The internet will never go away.
“If anything is illegal then there is a reason why this is.
“It’s always hanging over you. When you meet someone new, will they find out or do they already know? When you apply for jobs and they don’t call you back, have they found out? It's a horrible feeling and this will stick with you for the rest of your life.”
He added: “What I did 12 years ago will still be there on the internet, it will never go away for the rest of my life.
“The worst part is my children will one day see this. There will come a time where I will have to tell them what I had done and that will be another difficult time when I will have to explain my silly actions.”
Help from the Taxi King businessman
After finding himself in a rut and struggling to find work, Zaishan approached Shaz Malik of Four Sixes taxi company for help, after reading in the Post how he’d helped business rival Shakail Ahmed turn his life around, after losing his licence.
He has now encouraged Zaishan into work in a Chorley warehouse.
Zaishan said: He said: “He listened to my situation and one of the first things he asked was what have I done for the family? They are the real victims in all of this.
"I told him I have served my time in prison, eight years. Shaz said that was your punishment for your crime, that does not mean you a remorseful.
“Shaz did not judge me and he listened. He had agreed to help me but one of the conditions where you will work hard for your family and find a job. He supported me throughout this whole process.
Shaz Malik, ownder of Four Sixes, said: “Zaishan Jahangir has been determined to change his life around, it’s remarkable. I will continue to support him.
“I do believe Zaishan is remorseful for what he had done. This crime is something he has to live with for the rest of his life. The family who he stole from has forgiven him which is the biggest thing, who are we to judge after that.
“If there is anyone in a similar situation, there is hope. Stay positive and strive to make it work. Even if this story stops at least one person from committing such a crime then its been worth all my time and effort in helping Zaishan.”