Uncle killed niece and dumped her body ‘like rubbish’, court told
A 20-year-old woman was murdered by her uncle and her body dumped “like rubbish” while she was subject to a protection order after attempts to force her to marry, a jury has been told.
Prosecutors told jurors at Bradford Crown Court they may hear the murder of university student Somaiya Begum explained in terms of an “inappropriately named honour killing”.
But Jason Pitter KC added: “Whatever it was… it was not honourable.”
The jury of eight women and four men was told by Mr Pitter that Ms Begum’s uncle, Mohammed Taroos Khan, 53, killed her at her home in Binnie Street, Bradford, on June 25 last year.
Opening the prosecution case against Khan on Wednesday, he said: “She had met a traumatic death following a violent attack at her home, the nature of which was demonstrated by the metal spike which was embedded in her.”
Mr Pitter said Khan “bundled up” his niece’s body and it was “dumped and left to rot and decompose on wasteland like rubbish, such that she was not recognisable”.
The prosecutor said the body was found 11 days later wrapped in a rug, tied up with string, on land used as a dumping ground on Fitzwilliam Street, Bradford.
He said her body was so decomposed it was not possible to find a cause of death but there was an 11cm long metal spike embedded in her chest which had punctured her lung.
Mr Pitter told the jury that Miss Begum was living at the house in Binnie Street with another of her uncles, Dawood Khan, and her grandmother under the terms of a Forced Marriage Protection Order.
This was due to attempts by her father to force her to marry a cousin from Pakistan “by threat of violence”, he said.
The prosecutor said there were “fault lines” in the family, adding that these were partly about “the way in which members of the family interpreted their cultural or religious obligations”.
Mr Pitter said the defendant was also subject to a restraining order prohibiting him from attending the address in Binnie Street.
He explained to the jury that this order had been in place since 2016, after he was convicted of punching his own daughter before holding a knife to her throat and threatening to “chop her up”.
The prosecutor said: “This, it would appear, had been triggered by a belief on his part that she had been involved in inappropriate relationships because she was contacting boys.”
He said Miss Begum, who also worked as a part-time carer, was happy at her grandmother’s house.
He told the jury that Khan has admitted a charge of perverting the course of justice by disposing of Miss Begum’s body and burning her mobile telephone.
Mr Pitter said the defendant was caught on CCTV pulling up alongside a gap in a wall on Fitzwilliam Street and dragging a large and apparently heavy item from the car onto the waste ground.
“That was obviously Somaiya,” he told the jury.
The barrister said that when Khan was shown this footage “he stated that he had some garbage and had been dumping it”.
He told the jury: “In fact, that ‘garbage’, to use his word, was Somaiya.”
Mr Pitter said the defendant also told detectives he had been “set up by West Yorkshire Police”.
The prosecutor told the jury that Khan denies murdering his niece and “it must follow that he is saying that someone or others are responsible for killing her”.
Mr Pitter said that, it may be that Khan’s defence “advances issues in relation to the family’s culture and religion which may have been the misguided justification to kill her.
He said: “We suppose in the context of the inappropriately named ‘honour killing’.
“Whatever it was …. it was not honourable.”
Zafar Ali KC, defending, told the jurors there will be times in the trial when they will be “utterly sickened” by what they hear, including “the terrible way (Miss Begum’s) body was just dumped like rubbish”.
Mr Ali said: “No-one could deny that the attack on Somaiya on June 25 last year was both terrible and unforgivable”.
But the barrister told the jury: “Mohammed Taroos Khan accepts that Somaiya Begum, his niece, was murdered but he did not murder her.
“He knew nothing about the death until after Somaiya had been killed.”
Mr Ali said his client had been “summoned” to Binnie Street “to dispose of her body”.
Khan, of Thornbury Road, Bradford, denies murder but has admitted perverting the course of justice.
The trial is expected to last three weeks.