A man who murdered his niece and dumped her body on wasteland has been sentenced to at least 25 years in jail for the “dreadful attack”, however the judge at Bradford crown court refused to describe the crime as an “honour-killing”.
Mohammed Taroos Khan, 53, killed Somaiya Begum at her home in Binnie Street, Bradford, on June 25 last year. He then dumped the 20-year-old student’s body on an industrial estate where it was found in an advanced state of decomposition 11 days later.
Ms Begum, “an intelligent young woman of real spirit and courage” according to Mr Justice Garnham, had been living with another of her uncles and her grandmother under a forced marriage protection order.
Her father, Mohammed Yaseen Khan, had been trying to force Ms Begum to marry a cousin in Pakistan “by threat of violence”, the jury was told. The family was divided by the attempts to force her to marry when she had been 16.
Ms Begum had grown up in a strict household with her mother and father, but after the threat of forced marriage, she was able to secure the protection order and moved to Binnie Street.
Taroos Khan declined to give evidence in his defence during the trial. His barrister told the court that his brother – Yaseen Khan – had a clearer motive for murder and had subsequently fled to Pakistan using a one-way ticket.
The trial was told that Ms Begum’s body was so decomposed it was not possible to determine the cause of death, but she had a metal spike embedded in her back.
Mr Justice Garnham told Taroos Khan: “You showed absolutely no respect for the dead body of your niece in the way you dumped it unceremoniously, wrapped in carpet and covered in scrap material, amongst rubbish on waste ground.
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“You left it there to rot in the summer heat and, when it was found, Somaiya’s face had been eaten away by maggots.
“Inevitably the loss of this bright, vibrant young woman is felt acutely by other members of her family.”
Taroos Khan admitted perverting the course of justice by disposing of the body and attempting to burn Ms Begum’s phone.
Sentencing him to life in prison, the judge did not accept the prosecution’s demand that the murder be treated as a so-called honour-killing: “It is pure speculation to consider whether this murder was part of some appalling family agreement.
“All that matters for present purposes is that the jury have found you guilty of the heinous crime of murder.
“I decline to speculate on your motive and I reject the prosecution’s suggestion that I should treat this as any form of so-called honour killing.”
Prosecutor Daniel Lee said: “Somaiya Begum was a young woman who had her whole life ahead of her. Her murder is a tragedy and Khan now faces the consequences for his appalling crimes.”