A pizza shop owner has been convicted of murdering his wife and leaving her in a woodland grave which went undiscovered by police for more than six months, despite extensive searches.
Nezam Salangy, 44, was found guilty at Worcester Crown Court on Tuesday of killing his spouse of eight years Zobaidah Salangy on March 28 2020 and then burying her in woodland near Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, under cover of darkness.
Salangy’s younger brothers, Mohammed Yasin, 34, and 31-year-old Mohammed Ramin Salangy, who worked in another pizza shop, were also convicted alongside their older brother of assisting an offender, helping him to cover up the crime.
Ramin travelled 90 miles by cab from his and Yasin’s home in Cardiff, Wales, to help bury the victim.
Yasin assisted in the crime by covering up knowledge of the killing and the unmarked burial, with telephone evidence sealing his guilt, with jurors taking 13 hours and 55 minutes to unanimously convict.
Salangy later reported his wife missing to police, telling them “she had gone out for a run and never come back”, after leaving him for a “new boyfriend”, prosecutors said.
None of the men initially showed any reaction as the verdicts were read and “unusually”, as Mr Justice Hilliard told the 11-member jury, none had chosen to give evidence at their own trial.
But as Nezam left the dock, flanked by security guards, he stared for several seconds at six West Mercia Police detectives who had conducted the investigation, telling them: “You guys framed me.”
One of the other brothers, as he was led down the stairs to the court cells, said: “That’s the wrong decision.”
Shortly after the men were led downstairs, the court security alarm was triggered and a commotion could be heard.
Opening the Crown’s case, at the start of the six-week trial, Simon Denison QC said it was an “unfortunate fact” of the case Mrs Salangy’s body was initially missed by police, when a first dig at the site near the Worcestershire village of Lower Bentley took place in April 2020.
As a result of the “six-and-a-half months between her death and her body being discovered”, it had been impossible to determine the 28-year-old’s exact cause of death, he said.
Mr Denison said: “They mistook a hard layer of soil that they reached to be a natural base below which no-one would dig.
“So they abandoned the search there and they didn’t find the body at that stage.”
However, police – “convinced she must be there” – returned to the spot in October 2020, and this time “found Zobaidah’s body”.
Mrs Salangy was bound in curtain wire and wrapped in black bin bags and a duvet cover.
That duvet matched pillow cases found at the couple’s three-bed terrace address in Talbot Road, Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, not far from Salangy’s Prego Pizza shop, in nearby Austin Road.
Her phone was also found hidden behind other items, in bubble wrap, on a high shelf in the pizza parlour, together with a second phone which Salangy used to make arrangements with his two brothers to conceal the killing.
Salangy’s fingerprints were found on the box containing both phones.
Also with her phone, the victim’s black purse containing her driving licence and cash was discovered.
On March 27, the day before Mrs Salangy’s disappearance, jurors heard the couple “argued bitterly”, with part of the row video recorded by Salangy on his phone.
In the footage, Mrs Salangy “was saying ‘keep filming for the eight years he is destroying my life’”.
The prosecuting barrister said that the next day “Zobaidah Salangy vanished off the face of the earth”.
In the days afterwards, Salangy told people his wife had left him “forever”, claiming she sent text messages telling of a “new boyfriend”, “intended to leave the UK – which she hated – and return to Afghanistan”.
Jurors heard Mrs Salangy had been a maths teacher in Afghanistan and that her November 2012 nuptials to Salangy, then already living in the UK, had been an arranged marriage.
She moved to the UK in October 2013 to live with Salangy, with jurors told the victim was attending night-school English classes twice a week, intending to either resume maths teaching or become a midwife.
Mr Denison told jurors “the overall picture of what these defendants did becomes absolutely clear”, adding it was a crime that was “truly shocking and desperately sad”.
Salangy, of Talbot Road, Bromsgrove, and Yasin and Ramin Salangy, both of Adamscroft Place, Cardiff, were told by Mr Justice Hilliard they would be sentenced on a date in June.