UP to 16 people could be charged in connection with the alleged murder of Mohammed Feazan Ayaz and the disposal of his body, Bradford Crown Court heard yesterday.

Prosecutor Jonathan Sharp said that eight individuals could face murder charges while another eight were suspected of assisting an offender.

“One individual has been assisted to flee the country," Mr Sharp said.

“There is an active and substantial investigation ongoing."

In the dock making their first appearance at the crown court were Suleman Khan, 20, of Sandford Road, Bradford Moor, who is charged with murdering Mr Ayaz, between June 30 and July 1, 2019, and Shaoib Shafiq, 19, of Gladstone Street, Bradford Moor, who is charged with participating in the movement of the body of Mr Ayaz from the Denholme Business Centre to Saffron Drive, Bradford.

A 16-year-old Bradford youth, who cannot be named because of his age, is jointly charged with Shafiq with assisting an offender. He sat at the back of the courtroom next to his solicitor.

Mr Sharp said a trial lasting up to three months would be heard by a High Court judge sitting at Bradford Crown Court, beginning on January 2.

He told the Recorder of Bradford, Judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC, that more defendants charged in connection with the case would be appearing at the crown court today and tomorrow (Thursday and Friday).

Judge Durham Hall said that all the defendants would attend a plea and trial preparation hearing before him on August 9.

Fuad Arshad, Khan’s solicitor advocate, said he was not making a bail application at yesterday’s hearing.

Shafiq’s lawyer, Riyaz Shaikh, told the court his client would be applying for bail in the next ten days.

The youth is remanded into the care of the local authority. On Monday, Bradford and Keighley magistrates ruled that he must obey a 12-hour electronically monitored curfew, report at Trafalgar House Police Station three times a week, surrender his passport and not apply for any travel documents.

Judge Durham Hall remanded Khan and Shafiq back into custody.

He said of the case: “This will be a trial of up to three months of all involved in the case on the 2nd of January.”

Meanwhile, across at Bradford and Keighley Magistrates' Court yesterday morning, two more men were appeared in the court over the death of Mr Ayaz, bringing the total charged so far to five people.

Farekh Ejaz, 30, of Tower Road, Shipley, and Robert Wainwright, 26, of no fixed address, appeared before Bradford and Keighley Magistrates' Court charged with murder.

The pair, who were dealt with in separate short hearings before District Judge Richard Clewes, were remanded in custody ahead of a hearing at Bradford Crown Court today.

Both are charged with murdering Mr Ayaz between June 29 and July 2, 2019 at Unit 2, Denholme Business Centre in Halifax Road, Denholme.

The body of Mr Ayaz, who was 20 and from Bradford, was found in Saffron Drive, Allerton, in the early hours of Monday, July 1.

Ejaz confirmed his name, date of birth and address to the court.

Wainwright also confirmed his details. He was remanded back into custody ahead of today's hearing.

Prosecutor Linda Crowther told the court that three co-defendants had appeared before magistrates on Monday and had been due to appear at Bradford Crown Court yesterday. She asked that the cases be tied-in together at Crown.

Mirza Tahir Ayub, for Ejaz, said: "He is anxious to have his day in court."

Safter Salam, for Wainwright, said: "There's much to say on behalf of this defendant and he knows this is not the appropriate venue."

The District Judge told both men that they would be remanded in custody ahead of a hearing at Bradford Crown Court.

Meanwhile, two 27-year-old men who were arrested on suspicion of murder remain in custody, as does a 47-year-old woman, who was arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender.

Two men aged 23 and 24, who were arrested for assisting an offender, have been bailed pending further enquiries.

Police have also confirmed that two women, aged 21 and 28, who were arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender, have been released. The 21-year-old woman was released without charge, and the 28-year-old was released under investigation.

A number of scenes have been in place across the district as enquiries continue into Mr Ayaz’s death. Forensic officers were seen entering a property on Sandford Road, Bradford Moor, over the weekend. A cordon was also blocking two properties on Tower Road, Hirst Wood, Shipley, on Monday.