Husband gets life for killing wife in arranged marriage

Amir Shazad was convinced he had found a contented young wife when he and his British-born cousin Nusrat Ali were introduced and married in rural Pakistan in September 1999.

But Ms Ali, a school laboratory technician and university undergraduate from Middlesbrough detested the arranged marriage and blamed her family for pushing her into it by "emotional blackmail".

She implored British immigration officials to block her new husband's entry to the UK and refused to acknowledge his existence when he finally arrived.

After four years of misery for both of them, Shazad stabbed Ms Ali to death with a 12-inch kitchen knife as she left home for her job at a local secondary school on 17 August last year.

Yesterday, the 30-year-old admitted the murder and received a statutory life sentence. Judge Peter Fox, at Middlesbrough Crown Court, set a minimum tariff of 10 and a half years but said he considered both individuals to have been victims. "I accept you were kept in ignorance of [Ms Ali's resistance to the marriage] until you arrived," Judge Fox told Shazad. "Then, you were caught in a cultural trap from which there was no prospect of release and in which you were throughout consistently humiliated."

Though Ms Ali returned to the UK immediately after the wedding, Shazad's visa application was delayed and he did not join her until January 2003. His marriage was never consummated. James Goss QC, for the prosecution, said Shazad, who had expected to live and sleep with his wife, slept alone in the front room of the home shared by his wife, her mother and her five sisters. He found work in a Middlesbrough cash-and-carry store while his wife pursued an undergraduate degree in biochemistry at the University of Teesside. Within eight months he had been moved into a house next door. On 15 August last year, he was excluded from a family event and confronted his mother-in-law, Nasreen Ali. He was told to wait a year, until she travelled to Pakistan to see his family.

Two days later, at 8.50am, as his 24-year-old wife left the house for Easington Community School, in Co Durham. He pulled her from a car then stabbed her six times in her front garden. Two local men tried to intervene but fled when they saw the knife. Shazad then tried to hang himself. Police arrived at 9.01am - in time to save him but too late for his wife.

In mitigation, Tim Roberts QC said Shazad's wife neither spoke to him nor gave him her mobile phone number.

"In his mother-in-law's home he always ate separately," said Mr Roberts. "The girls ate in another room around a table. He ate sitting on the floor alone in the back room. If there were visitors whilst he was there, the girls would ... remove evidence that he was in the house. They ... would then usher him out of the back door. If there was insufficient time to do that he was locked in a room. Eventually he [took to] locking himself in because that was more convenient. Nasreen Ali would explain away his presence by saying he was an asylum-seeker lodging with the family."

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