Inquest opens into murder of woman by husband after secure unit release

An inquest has opened into the death of a woman who was murdered by her husband, who was released from a secure psychiatric unit after setting another woman on fire.

Sobhia Khan was beaten to death by Atual Mustafa in May 2017 at their home in Pear Tree Crescent, Derby, with Mustafa jailed for life with a minimum term of 32 years in May 2018.

An inquest into 37-year-old Ms Khan’s death will examine the decisions that led to Mustafa being conditionally discharged from a secure psychiatric unit at the Cygnet Hospital in Derby in July 2015, after being given a hospital order in 2009 for attacking, torturing and setting fire to another woman.

It was also revealed in a subsequent NHS report that Mustafa, who was 36 at the time of the murder, had a sexual relationship with a member of staff at the unit.

Opening the inquest on Tuesday at Chesterfield Coroners Court, Clement Goldstone, sitting as an Assistant Coroner for Derby and Derbyshire, said: “I have been appointed by the Chief Coroner for England and Wales to preside over this inquest into the tragic death of Sobhia Khan, who was murdered by Atual Mustafa at their home in Derby.

“May I apologise to all those that have been affected by the delay in bringing this inquest to the Coroners Court, in particular to Sobhia’s family.

“We will ensure that within the boundaries of reasonable lines of inquiry, no stone is left unturned in answering the four statutory questions, namely: who died, and when, where and how they came by their death.”

Mr Goldstone said that the inquest would not seek to challenge evidence that led to a diagnosis made in 2009 that Mustafa had paranoid schizophrenia, adding: “Hindsight is a wonderful thing.”

In his opening remarks, he said the inquest would examine the “reasonableness and effectiveness of the steps in place following his discharge to protect the public in general and in particular any women with whom Atual Mustafa could form a relationship.”

Ms Khan, from Bradford, was wed to Mustafa in her absence in the weeks before her death, under the Islamic ceremony of Nikah.

But according to the Derby Telegraph, which covered the trial, she became increasingly controlled by Mustafa, who left her with more than 35 injuries in the attack that caused her death.

A 105-page report, commissioned by NHS England and published in 2021, detailed a catalogue of missed opportunities to spot warning signs and potentially prevent Ms Khan’s death, and said healthcare officials lacked the knowledge and resources to adequately supervise Mustafa once he had been discharged.

The Derby Telegraph reported that a risk assessment discussed in the report said it was “likely” that Mustafa would commit emotional, physical and sexual violence against a new partner once he was discharged from the secure unit.

It was advised that his risk was reassessed when he found a new partner, but this did not happen prior to his marriage to Ms Khan and health officials had no knowledge of the relationship, combined with an over-reliance on Mustafa disclosing developments himself.

Representatives from both the Derbyshire and Nottingham Healthcare NHS Foundation Trusts, the Ministry of Justice, Derby City Council and Ms Khan’s family were present at the start of the inquest, which could last until the end of June.