UK Politics

Body in freezer: Builder guilty of murdering niece

body-in-freezer-builder-guilty-of-murdering-niece

A man has been jailed for at least 40 years for murdering his niece and the attempted murder of another woman.

Mujahid Arshid, 33, was also convicted of the rape and kidnap of 20-year-old niece Celine Dookhran, and the rape and kidnap of the other woman.

And he was found guilty of sexually assaulting the surviving victim when she was 13.

His co-defendant, Vincent Tappu, was acquitted of all charges, which included the kidnap of both women, false imprisonment and possession of a firearm with intent.

The Old Bailey heard throughout the course of the trial that Arshid had kidnapped the two women while wearing pyjamas and a balaclava.

He was said to have become "sexually fixated" with his niece, who worked in a Barclays bank.

Image:Arshid believes his is 'the centre of the world', the judge said

In July last year, Arshid took the two women to a house between Kingston and Wimbledon in southwest London, which he was helping to renovate.

They were bound and gagged, and when they arrived, they had their throats slit and were raped.

The surviving woman managed to text her boyfriend and mother, warning them she had been kidnapped.

She told her mother: "He's going to kill me. Don't reply."

Celine Dookhran had previously told her boyfriend she found her uncle creepy
Image:Celine Dookhran had previously told her boyfriend she found her uncle creepy

Prosecutors told the court Arshid was acting out sexual fantasies during the kidnap.

The second woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, escaped when she convinced her attacker that they could be together.

She told the court: "He said: 'Now you've got 10 minutes to live and your body will shut down'. I was trying to play dead.

"He molested Celine's body while she was dead and then he molested me thinking I was dead. He's such a psycho.

Arshid, freezer murderer CCTV still
Video:Freezer body murderer tracked on CCTV

"I sat up and he said: 'How have you got so much energy?' I was covered in blood from head to toe. I was swimming in it.

"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'.

"He said: 'I'm not good enough for you, look what I have done'."

The woman managed to raise the alarm and was rescued by Arshid's brother, who saw her in the back of his truck and took her to St George's Hospital in Tooting, where she went on to have two operations as she recovered from knife wounds.

In her hospital bed, she told police officers they would find Ms Dookhran's body in the chest freezer.

The 20-year-old worked in a Barclay's bank
Image:The 20-year-old worked in a Barclays bank

Arshid had bought the freezer to place in the house, so the bodies would not be found until after he had fled the country.

"He brought Celine down in a bag, picked her up and put her into the chest freezer," she said.

"All I could see was her legs sticking out. I had to act like it was not affecting me."

When Arshid's wife demanded to know where their niece was on WhatsApp, Arshid initially told her: "How do I know. She's the one that ran off."

She replied: "You would stoop that low. You're the p***y."

Set of keys (includes key to locked padlock on chest freezer)
Image:Set of keys (including the key to the locked padlock on the chest freezer)

Arshid then said: "Whatever I may be, you made me. I'll call you from Pakistan."

But when his wife told him not to and that he was "dead to me", he retorted: "So is Celine apparently."

Arshid was arrested at a Holiday Inn in Folkestone. When he was formally charged by police, Arshid told them to "look at the evidence and keep an open mind".

He told police the surviving woman had killed Ms Dookhran in a fit of rage after he had consensual sex with both of them.

Government of Pakistan National Identity Card in name of Mujahid Arshid
Image:Mujahid Arshid's Pakistan ID card

He claimed she was injured when she attacked him but they struggled over the knife.

His account was at odds with an examination of Ms Dookhran's body, as she was found with a sock stuffed in her mouth, and a knife wound that her cut through her throat and tape on her head.

Ms Dookhran and the survivor had the same injuries, and could not have been inflicted during a struggle.

The survivor told the court that she had regarded Ms Dookhran as being like a "sister", adding: "Hearing the helpless screams and seeing the fear in Celine's eyes that day.

"The terrifying visions and muffling sounds will never go away.

"Hearing Celine being killed stops me from closing my eyes and going to sleep like a normal person."

The jury deliberated for 14 hours before delivering the guilty verdicts.

Ms Dookhran's family shouted "yes" when the verdict was returned.

Speaking after the verdict, the family of the survivor said the crime was not an honour killing.

They added: "Mujahid Arshid tried to destroy the life of the surviving victim ever since she met him.

"He has manipulated and lied repeatedly, and continued this throughout the trial.

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"Mujahid Arshid persistently fabricated the truth and attempted to deceive the courts and the same can be said of those that have supported him during the course of this trial.

"More so, Arshid, by pleading not guilty, ensured that the surviving victim would have to relive that horrific day in minuscule detail during the course of this trial. He showed not an ounce of remorse throughout this trial, in spite of the hurt and pain he purposefully caused."

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