'Evil spirit' family jailed for life over wife's murder

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The Independent Online

A husband and three members of his family were jailed for life yesterday for murdering his pregnant wife in an apparent attempt to rid her of an evil spirit.

Mohammed Tauseef Mumtaz, 25, had to be carried out of the dock by his father after being jailed for a minimum of 13 years for the murder of Naila Mumtaz, who was smothered at her Birmingham home in 2009.

Mumtaz's brother-in-law, Hammad Hassan, was also jailed for at least 13 years, while his mother and father, Salma Aslam and Zia ul-Haq, were both given minimum terms of 15 years by a judge at Birmingham Crown Court.

Mumtaz, his parents, both aged 51, and Hassan, 24, had denied both murder and manslaughter but were convicted of the more serious charge following a 12-week trial which ended in July this year.

The trial heard evidence that Naila, 21, was killed during attempts to render her unconscious as family members attempted to drive out a harmful "jinn" spirit.

Jurors also heard that Mumtaz, whose wife was six months pregnant, told police that she had tried to strangle herself at their home after becoming "possessed" by the spirit.

Naila moved to the UK in 2008 after an arranged marriage in Pakistan. Passing sentence, the judge said: "She was her parents' only daughter and her death has left a terrible gap in their lives."

Detective Inspector Simon Astle, of West Midlands Police, said: "This was a tragic and deeply upsetting case, where a young woman had her life so horrifically ended by those she loved and trusted."