Life for man who abused and then killed teenage bride from Pakistan

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The Independent Online

A husband who beat his teenage bride to death weeks after she arrived from Pakistan in an arranged marriage was convicted of her murder yesterday and jailed for life.

Shazad Khan, 25, whose 19-year-old wife's injuries were worse than any a Home Office pathologist had seen in a 16-year career, will serve a minimum of 15 years before he is eligible for parole.

The prospect of life in Britain held out hope for Khan's young bride Sabia Rani, who had left school at 13 to help with the cooking, cleaning and the raising of her siblings in the village of Palak, in the Mirpur district of Pakistan. She shared a small home there with her grandmother, parents, two brothers and one sister.

She met Khan when he visited Pakistan for a family funeral in December 2002 and they married, but it was not until December 2005 that she arrived in Britain, with no grasp of English and little sense of the lifestyle.

The first signs were not good. Her new husband expected domesticity from her and was unhappy to find that she did not place fresh sandwiches in his lunch box, which he left in the kitchen at the family home at Oakwood Grange, Roundhay, Leeds. When she did produce sandwiches, she had failed to establish that he was off work the following day, which also angered him.

Ms Rani also found herself living with up to eight - members of her husband's westernised family yet struggled to fit in with any of them, according to Khan.

She rarely saw her husband, who worked long hours and had three jobs. Khan told police that his own mother had raised five children while his father worked 14-hour days at a factory - so that is "how it would be" for Sabia.

The smallest tasks - visiting the supermarket or knowing how to apply the make-up her husband expected her to wear - were difficult for her, Khan told detectives under interview. He admitted this irritated him, as did her failure to fit in with the family.

Khan's mother believed Ms Rani was possessed by evil spirits. This was confirmed by a "holy man" in Bradford, who did not meet Ms Rani but told her in-laws about her "problem" after performing a ceremony involving a top she wore.

Khan told his work supervisor that he was unhappy with his marriage because he had been rushed into it, and soon began kicking and beating his wife.

Leeds Crown Court heard that Ms Rani's injuries, similar to those of a car crash victim, were so severe that she would have been in constant pain and ill for at least three weeks before she died.

Yet Khan's sister said she had seen no evidence of injuries. She and Ms Rani had been great friends, she said.

Ms Rani was found dead in a bath of cold water at the family home on 21 May last year, after another attack.

The Recorder of Leeds, Judge Norman Jones, QC, criticised Khan's family. "I can't help but note that others in that house, that very intimate family, must have known," he said. The court heard further inquiries where being made with the family following the conviction.