Obsessive killer who followed 'beautiful, bubbly' woman to UK, suffocated her and stuffed her in a suitcase jailed

23 June 2023, 12:19 | Updated: 23 June 2023, 13:28

Muhammad Arslan killed Hina Bashir
Muhammad Arslan killed Hina Bashir. Picture: Met Police

By Kit Heren

An "obsessed" murderer who gave up his career in Pakistan to follow a woman to the UK, before killing her in a fit of jealous rage, has been jailed.

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Muhammad Arslan, 27, suffocated Hina Bashir, 21, with a flowery face mask before stuffing her into a suitcase and dumping it by the side of the M25.

He admitted manslaughter and perverting the course of justice, but denied murder. A jury found him guilty of murder on Wednesday. Arslan was sentenced to life in prison on Friday, with a minimum of 20 years to be served.

The court had heard how Arslan had made friends with Ms Bashir while they were living in the same village in the Faisalabad district of Pakistan when she was 11 and he was 17.

Arslan told her she was his "princess", and was shocked when she rejected him. She later began a relationship with someone else in Pakistan, before moving to the UK.

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Hina Bashir was found dead in a suitcase
Hina Bashir was found dead in a suitcase. Picture: Met Police

Soon after she left, the university graduate gave up his job to follow her to the UK, enrolling at the University of Essex and working part-time in a warehouse.

He fantasised that she was his fiancee, even though she had a boyfriend.

On the evening of July 11, 2022, Ms Bashir went to Arslan's flat in Ilford, east London, to pick up some belongings, where he killed her.

Arslan claimed that he only meant to confront Ms Bashir over some nude photographs that he had been sent of her.

Sentencing Arslan, Judge Richard Marks KC told him: "I am satisfied...that your unrequited feelings for Hina boiled over and resulted in you taking hold of a facemask and forcing it into the back of her mouth which led to her collapse and ultimately to her death from asphyxiation."

Muhammad Arslan
Muhammad Arslan. Picture: Met Police

He added that Arslan's "prime motivation" was to save himself after killing Ms Bashir, embarking on a "campaign of lies" to conceal what he had done "lying to all and sundry" before disposing her body in a "shocking and callous manner".

Ms Bashir's father, Bashir Khan said that "animals would treat my daughter better".

"He treated her in a heinous and brutal way," Mr Khan added in a victim statement that was read out in court.

He spoke of how Ms Bashir's death has traumatised his family and how they loved their "beautiful, bubbly girl".

The court heard during the trial how Arslan and Ms Bashir grew up in the same village in the Faisalabad district of Pakistan.

Hina Bashir
Hina Bashir. Picture: Met Police

From the age of 11, Ms Bashir had been befriended via text message by the then 17-year-old defendant, it was alleged.

At one point, Arslan declared: "How wonderful it is that I have found my princess in the house right next to mine."

Ms Bashir went on to reject his advances and had a boyfriend in Pakistan and another after moving to the UK in November 2021 to study business management at Coventry University's London campus, the court heard.

Within months of her arrival, Arslan had followed her, enrolling at the University of Essex for a masters degree in data science and applications and working part-time in a warehouse, jurors heard.

Arslan already had a masters degree in maths and quantum physics from the University of Faisalabad and had given up a job as the manager of a pharmacy to travel to the UK, jurors were told.

On the evening of July 11 last year, Ms Bashir and two female friends had visited Arslan's flat to collect some belongings she had left there while moving.

When Ms Bashir did not come out, her friends had to leave without her and the student was never seen alive again, jurors were told.

Having killed her, Arslan put her body into a suitcase in the bedroom he shared with a friend and stored it there overnight.

Arslan then spent hours trawling through her private messages and photographs on her mobile phone, the court was told.

The prosecution said Arslan set off from his house the next morning dragging a suitcase containing Ms Bashir's body, travelling to an industrial estate by the M25 near Upminster where he hid the suitcase in some undergrowth to the side of a lane.

After the killing, Arslan had deleted his contacts from Ms Bashir's phone, lied to police about Ms Bashir's disappearance and made inquiries about travelling to Northern Ireland and Birmingham.

An examination of his phone revealed the extent of his obsession with Ms Bashir before and after she travelled to the UK.

He had repeatedly declared his love for her and reacted with shock on learning she had found someone else.

Police found a large number of photographs of Ms Bashir, including collages of her image, on Arslan's phone. Love hearts had been added on some pictures.

Following Arslan's conviction, detective chief inspector Dave Whellams, said: "Arslan was obsessed with Hina to the point that he told people they were engaged and said they should have children together. This relationship was completely in his mind.

"Our investigation showed that Arslan was unable to live with the fact Hina did not want to be with him. It was this rejection that tragically led to her death.

"Once Arslan had murdered Hina he did everything he could to cover his tracks but the evidence gathered by our team left no doubt in our mind as to his guilt.

"We are pleased the jury felt the same way and our thoughts now continue to remain with Hina's family and friends who are dealing with an incomprehensible loss."

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