Uncle guilty of murdering niece, 20, in 'honour killing' after she refused forced marriage to a cousin

14 March 2023, 18:32

Mohammed Taroos Khan is convicted of killing Somaiya Begum in Bradford
Mohammed Taroos Khan (L) is convicted of killing Somaiya Begum (R) in Bradford. Picture: West Yorkshire Police

By Chris Samuel

A man has been found guilty of murdering his niece in a "violent attack" before dumping her body on wasteland "like rubbish", after she refused a forced marriage to a cousin.

Mohammed Taroos Khan, 53, killed biomedical student Somaiya Begum, 20, at her home in, Bradford, West Yorkshire, on June 25, 2022.

Ms Begum's body was found just over a mile from her home, 11 days after she went missing, following a major week-long police search.

Earlier in the trial, jurors were shown CCTV footage which prosecutors said showed Khan dragging his niece's body from his car before dumping it on waste ground.

Khan denied murdering Ms Begum, but admitted perverting the course of justice by disposing of her body and trying to burn her mobile phone.

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On Tuesday, a jury found him guilty of murder after a trial at Bradford Crown Court.

Prosecutor Jason Pitter KC said Ms Begum had been living "happily" with another uncle and her grandmother due to a Forced Marriage Protection Order.

Mr Pitter said this was court-imposed after her father attempted to arrange a marriage to a cousin from Pakistan "by threat of violence".

Mohammed Taroos Khan
Mohammed Taroos Khan. Picture: West Yorkshire Police

Ms Begum's uncle "bundled up" her body and it was "dumped and left to rot and decompose on wasteland like rubbish, such that she was not recognisable", he said.

Mr Pitter said the body was discovered on land used as a dumping ground wrapped in a rug and tied up with string, Mr Pitter said.

He said that her body was so decomposed that it wasn't possible to determine how she died, but there was a 11cm long, metal spike embedded in her chest which had punctured her lung.

The prosecutor said the defendant had been subject to a restraining order prohibiting him from attending his niece's street.

He explained to the jury that this order had been in place since 2016, after Khan was convicted of punching his own daughter before holding a knife to her throat and threatening to "chop her up".

Khan's defence counsel Zafar Ali KC suggested Ms Begum's “humiliated” father had a “motive” to kill her after she’d refused to participate in the marriage he’d arranged for her years earlier.

Somaiya Begum
Somaiya Begum. Picture: West Yorkshire Police

He also told the court that her father had taken a "one-way" ticket to Pakistan not long before the trial began without giving his family a reason.

But the jury decided on the strength of the evidence, that Mohammed Khan was guilty of his niece's murder - following his initial arrest on July 6, 2022.

Mr Pitter suggested that Khan may have murdered his niece in an 'honour killing'.

"It may be that as part of it he 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'.

He added: "Whatever his motive, because it was him, even if others, as he may seek to say, were involved, it was not honourable."

Khan will be sentenced at the same court on Wednesday.

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