Ahmed sister 'said Shafilea was stabbed'

 

Alesha Ahmed told a family friend her sister Shafilea was "stabbed" by their father and the body was "in pieces", a jury heard today.

Shafilea's parents Iftikhar, 52, and Farzana, 49, deny murdering the 17-year-old by suffocating her at the family home in Warrington, Cheshire, in September 2003.

The teenager's decomposed remains were discovered in Cumbria in February 2004 but it was not until 2010 that Alesha provided police with the "final piece of the puzzle" about her death, the prosecution said.

Giving evidence today, Sehreen Shafaat, 22, a close friend of the Ahmed children, said Alesha told her that Mr Ahmed stabbed Shafilea.

Law graduate Miss Shafaat, a trainee barrister, told the jury she had know the family as a small child and after Shafilea's death became close to the Ahmeds' other daughters Alesha and Mevish.

They attended the same college and she would frequently socialise or study with them at their home, the jury heard.

Following a study session, Miss Shafaat said she and Alesha were in her car when Miss Ahmed turned to her and said the family "were not getting on".

Miss Shafaat, wearing a black headscarf, added: "Alesha said there was no happiness and although the family looked happy on the outside, it wasn't happy on the inside."

She described Alesha as "upset" and "crying" and said: "And then she just came out with 'My dad did it'."

Miss Shafaat said she knew what Alesha was talking about and was shocked, replying: "What?"

"And she said, 'Yeah, my dad killed her'," the witness went on.

"I asked if she was serious and how (it happened).

"I didn't mean to ask how but it just came out, I didn't know what to say."

Henry Riding, for the prosecution, asked Miss Shafaat to tell the jury what happened next.

She said she couldn't remember the order in which things were said but told the jury Alesha said "something like", "My dad stabbed her and the body was all in pieces".

"I can't remember if she said she had actually seen her dad stab Shafilea," Miss Shafaat went on.

"During the conversation she told me her dad had been violent in the past and she used the word 'strangle' but I can't remember if that was to do with the incident with Shafilea or something else.

"She definitely said the body was in pieces but I can't remember exactly what else she said."

Earlier in the trial, Alesha Ahmed described how her parents pushed Shafilea on to the settee in their house and she heard her mother say "Just finish it here" in Urdu as they forced a plastic bag into the teenager's mouth and suffocated her in front of their other children.

The couple murdered their "Westernised" daughter because they believed her conduct was bringing shame on the family, the prosecution say.

Miss Shafaat told the court Alesha said the incident took place in the "kitchen/lounge room" downstairs in the house.

"(Alesha) mentioned the presence of Mrs Ahmed but I can't remember what she said," the witness added.

"She said that she and the other children had come downstairs but I don't remember if she said they saw it happen or if that was after."

Miss Shafaat told the jury Alesha told her to take the information "to her grave" and not tell anyone so she "literally put it to the back of my mind".

"She definitely used the word grave and said that I couldn't mention it to anybody," she explained.

Asked by Mr Riding if Miss Ahmed mentioned any discussion with her parents about Shafilea's death, Miss Shafaat said: "She didn't say anything about a conversation at the time Shafilea was killed, but she did say her parents did not have any regrets and they did say to the children they had 'done it before and can do it again'."

This was done as a "threat", Miss Shafaat said.

Asked about what happened after the December 2009 conversation had ended, Miss Shafaat said: "I didn't mention it to anybody, I didn't even bring it up again with Alesha."

The witness said the first time she spoke of that conversation was when she was interviewed by police.

She added: "I wasn't expecting to ever have to repeat it."

In the run-up to the conversation with Miss Shafaat, Miss Ahmed had been involved in a relationship with a young man she met at university, the court heard.

Giving evidence today the man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said she had also described Shafilea's death to him.

The witness said they had met in a nightclub and over about a year became close but he described her as "secretive" about her family life.

He said he had heard rumours among other students that she was related to Shafilea but when he asked her about it she denied it was her family and "brushed it off".

He said there were times he could see Miss Ahmed had "something deep troubling her and she needed to get it out of her system".

He said: "She was immensely sad. She was nearly crying but she held back because I was an outsider."

Around the same time as the conversation with Miss Shafaat, the witness said he and Miss Ahmed were sitting on his bed when she became upset.

He told the court she was in tears and said she needed to tell him something but "didn't know if he was too immature for it".

"I said I could help, whatever it is," he told the jury.

Miss Ahmed said she had sworn on her religion she wouldn't tell anyone and told him to swear too, which he did.

"She was distraught, all over the place, mumbling," he added.

The witness said he couldn't remember Miss Ahmed's exact words but she said to him: "Yeah, I was part of that family."

He added: "She explained what she said before was a lie and (Shafilea) was her sister."

He went on: "The whole conversation was quite long and she basically said her sister came home and ended up in an argument and, I think, it was her mother beating and manhandling her and her father was in the room.

"The mother said in her native tongue along the lines of 'finish her off'.

"Alesha was in tears and basically said death was by suffocation and involved a carrier bag.

"She said it was very quick, Shafilea passed away and the kids ran upstairs."

The witness described Miss Ahmed as "like when you see people grieving".

Mr Riding asked him: "Did you keep your promise to Alesha not to tell anybody about these matters?"

He replied: "I had to tell the police when they knocked on my door."

Cross examined by Tom Bayliss QC, defending Mr Ahmed, the witness told the jury he had known the death of Shafilea was "one of the great unsolved murders".

"Did it occur to you to tell the police?", Mr Bayliss asked.

"In the back of my mind I knew it was something that should be said but I never," he replied.

The witness was interviewed by detectives in September 2010, after Miss Ahmed was arrested for a robbery at the family home.

It was while she was in custody that she told police her sister was murdered by their parents.

He said he told the police about Miss Ahmed's disclosure to "get them out of the house before my parents came back".

By this time he was no longer involved with Miss Ahmed but they had remained in contact, the court heard.

He agreed with Mr Bayliss that they had held conversations on Facebook while she was on bail for the robbery and after she had made the disclosure about Shafilea's death.

The barrister asked: "Were you and Miss Ahmed discussing what she told the police, how she got out of custody by making allegations about her parents?"

The witness said: "Not that I'm aware of."

The trial was adjourned until Monday at 10am.

PA

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
Arts and Entertainment
booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Arts and Entertainment
Al Pacino in ‘The Humbling’, as an ageing actor
filmHam among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
News
Fifi Trixibelle Geldof with her mother, Paula Yates, in 1985
people
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Sport
Mario Balotelli in action during his Liverpool debut
football ...but he can't get on the scoresheet in impressive debut
Environment
Pigeons have been found with traces of cocaine and painkillers in their system
environmentCan species be 'de-extincted'?
Arts and Entertainment
booksExclusive extract from Howard Jacobson’s acclaimed new novel
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
A Pilgrim’s Progress is described by its publisher as “the one-and-only definitive record” of David Hockney's life and works
people
Sport
Loic Remy signs for Chelsea
footballBlues wrap up deal on the eve of the transfer window
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Art
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth McGovern as Cora, Countess of Grantham and Richard E Grant as Simon Bricker
TV
Life and Style
Instagram daredevils get thousands of followers
techMeet the daredevil photographers redefining urban exploration with death-defying stunts
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard, nicknamed by the press as 'Dirty Diana'
TVDaughter says contestant was manipulated 'to boost ratings'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor