Man jailed for at least 40 years for killing his niece

Sec­ond woman tells court of es­cape after at­tack builder had planned for months

The Guardian - - NATIONAL - Holly Watt

A man has been jailed for at least 40 years after be­ing found guilty of rap­ing and mur­der­ing his niece and putting her body in a freezer.

Mu­jahid Ar­shid, 33, killed Ce­line Dookhran, 20, at a house in Kingston upon Thames in south-west Lon­don in July last year, after spend­ing months plan­ning the at­tack. He was also found guilty at the Old Bai­ley of the at­tempted mur­der of a sec­ond woman, who man­aged to es­cape.

Ar­shid was con­victed of sex­ual as­sault charges against the sec­ond woman, who can­not be iden­ti­fied.

A state­ment from Dookhran’s mother, Iman, was read out, in which she said her daugh­ter “fell vic­tim to pure evil” and that “com­ing to terms with her death is likely to be a life­long as­sign­ment”.

“She will al­ways be there in the dark­ness that sur­rounds us,” the state­ment added.

Ar­shid’s co-ac­cused, Vin­cent Tappu, 28, was cleared of kid­nap­ping charges.

The jury heard that Ar­shid, a builder, had be­come in­creas­ingly ob­sessed with both women, and de­cided to kill them after dis­cov­er­ing they had boyfriends.

There had been ten­sions in Dookhran’s fam­ily, who are Mus­lim, over the fact that she had a boyfriend, and she had tem­po­rar­ily moved in with Ar­shid. Ar­shid took the women to a six-bed­room, £1.5m house he was ren­o­vat­ing and at­tacked them.

Mem­bers of Dookhran’s fam­ily shouted “Yes” when Ar­shid was found guilty of mur­der, at­tempted mur­der, rape and kid­nap­ping. He had pleaded not guilty, forc­ing a trial.

The sec­ond woman, who had to un­dergo ma­jor surgery after the at­tack, gave ex­ten­sive ev­i­dence from be­hind a screen dur­ing the trial. Ar­shid had cut her throat, in­flict­ing a sim­i­lar in­jury on Dookhran.

The sec­ond woman had told the po­lice about the at­tack from her hospi­tal bed, and Dookhran’s body was found soon after.

As the jury re­turned its ver­dict, Ar­shid shouted: “I will prove that bitch wrong.” In his de­fence, Ar­shid claimed the sec­ond woman had been re­spon­si­ble for the at­tacks, and ac­cused her of ly­ing to the court.

Ju­rors heard that four years be­fore the mur­der, Ar­shid had sent a se­ries of mes­sages to an un­der­cover po­lice of­fi­cer, de­scrib­ing a rape fan­tasy in­volv­ing the sec­ond woman. Dur­ing their ex­plicit ex­changes, he said: “These kind of girls de­serve rape – lol.”

Mes­sages read out to ju­rors in­cluded Ar­shid ask­ing the de­tec­tive if he would like to drug and then “force” a teenage girl to have sex.

He had also sent the po­lice of­fi­cer a pho­to­graph of the sec­ond woman, who was then a teenager. The mes­sages were traced to his house. When con­fronted by po­lice, Ar­shid blamed an em­ployee for using his com­puter and the case was dropped.

The court heard that the sec­ond woman es­caped the house only after pre­tend­ing to Ar­shid that she was in love with him. In her ev­i­dence, she said: “I started say­ing things he wanted to hear – ‘I love you, we can run away to­gether, we can be happy to­gether, we can have a fam­ily.’”

She told the court: “I’m not go­ing to lie, I was scared for my life. I thought, if we get out alive, he can­not get away with this.”

The vic­tim said she con­vinced Ar­shid she would run away with him and not tell any­one about Dookhran’s death, while se­cretly tex­ting her mother for help.

After she es­caped, Ar­shid fled to a Hol­i­day Inn in Folke­stone, Kent, where he was even­tu­ally ar­rested. In a con­ver­sa­tion on WhatsApp with his wife, he said he was go­ing to Pak­istan.

The prose­cu­tor, Crispin Aylett QC, told ju­rors that Dookhran was “dragged into his warped yearn­ings” after she moved into Ar­shid’s house.

Dookhran was born in Wandsworth, south-west Lon­don, in 1996, and was the el­dest of three chil­dren.

The worker at Bar­clays bank, who was also an as­pir­ing makeup artist, had told her boyfriend that she found Ar­shid “creepy” and a “per­vert”.

Aylett said Dookhran was found “face down” in the freezer at an “awk­ward an­gle con­sis­tent with her hav­ing been stuffed in­side”, with her arms cov­ered in blood.

In the weeks lead­ing up to the killing, Ar­shid car­ried out re­search on the in­ter­net and was said to have been in­spired by other mur­der­ers.

DCI Sam Price de­scribed Ar­shid’s ac­tions as a “sex­u­ally mo­ti­vated at­tack of un­speak­able violence and hor­ror”. She added: “Ce­line’s fam­ily have been forced to sit through weeks of re­liv­ing their daugh­ter’s last hours and they have done this with ab­so­lute dig­nity. Their dis­tress has been com­pounded by the fact Ar­shid was some­one they knew and trusted.”

‘I started say­ing things he wanted to hear – “I love you, we can run away to­gether, we can have a fam­ily to­gether”’

Sec­ond vic­tim, who sur­vived the at­tack

PHO­TO­GRAPHS: MET­RO­POL­I­TAN PO­LICE/PA

Mu­jahid Ar­shid put the body of Ce­line Dookhran in a freezer after killing her by cut­ting her throat

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