Murdered Shafilea Ahmed's teacher 'saw beating bruises'


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The Independent Online

Shafilea Ahmed's teacher saw injuries which the teenager claimed were caused in a "beating" from her parents, a court heard today.

Joanne Code said Shafilea also ran away from home and said she would not go back because "they are going to marry me off in Pakistan".

The teenager's parents, Iftikhar, 52, and Farzana, 49, are accused of murdering Shafilea at home in Warrington, Cheshire, in September 2003.

Mrs Code, who taught Shafilea German at Great Sankey High School, told the jury at Chester Crown Court the teenager was a "very, very good student".

She said: "She was a very quiet young lady who didn't draw attention to herself but by the same token quite a gifted German student."

Later, in September 2002, Mrs Code was head of sixth form when Shafilea began her A Levels.

The teacher said she was "always immaculately dressed, he hair was always straight, no make up on and her uniform was pristine.

"Shafilea was very, very clear she wanted to be a barrister - that was her dream, that was her ambition.

"She spoke really articulately about wanting to be a barrister and going into the field of law.

"She was exceptionally keen to go to university...she was adamant that was what she wanted to do."

Little more than a month after she joined the sixth form, Shafilea was absent from school and Mrs Code telephoned the family home and spoke to Mr Ahmed.

She told the jury she was "surprised" when he said Shafilea wanted to leave college and "burn her books".

"It really did not stack up at all with the student that I knew and her aspirations for what she wanted to be," she added.

The teacher asked to speak directly to Shafilea, who was put on the phone and told only to answer "yes" or "no".

Mrs Code added: "I was concerned that if she said too much it might make life difficult for her. It was a very direct question I needed to ask her, I asked whether or not I needed to be worried about her welfare - which she replied 'Yes'."

The teacher asked for Mr Ahmed to return to the phone and informed him Shafilea needed to sign papers before she was allowed to leave her studies.

The next day the teenager returned to school and went to see Mrs Code.

"She came in and she had bruising to her neck and a cut on her lip," the teacher said.

She added: "She told me her mother and father had beat her and that they had taken it in turns to do so while one held her down and then vice versa.

"She said it happened prior to being stopped coming into school (when) her parents had found out she had been texting boys."

Shafilea disappeared in September 2003 and her body was found on the bank of the River Kent in Cumbria the following February.

The prosecution claim she was killed by her parents because of her "Western" ways.

The couple, of Liverpool Road, Warrington, deny murder.

The teacher said Shafilea was "adamant" she did not want social services to become involved but the situation was monitored.

Shafilea did remain at Great Sankey High but the following month ran away from home. She was found "shivering" in a park by a friend who took her into school.

Mrs Code said a meeting was arranged with social services in which Shafilea said she was "hopeful" that she could be reconciled with her parents.

"Shafilea was frightened and she was concerned about her brother and sisters," Mrs Code added.

"She was worried about what would happen to them. It always came back to her brothers and sisters."

In a further meeting, this time involving her parents, Shafilea spoke "quite openly" about her lack of freedom, the court heard.

"It was a very frank meeting," Mrs Code said.

"More to do with the freedom of a young girl effectively wanting the same freedom as her friends, to be able to work and have money and go out.

"By the end of the meeting Mr Ahmed had agreed she would be allowed more freedom and she seemed happy with it."

But the following February Mrs Code said she learned that the teenager had run away again, this time to Blackburn, to be with a man called "Mushi".

Mrs Code said she was very concerned about Shafilea going to Blackburn with an older man she hardly knew.

She added: "That was the point everything turned for me.

"She said she wasn't going home and when I asked why, she said, 'They're going to marry me off in Pakistan'.

"She point-blank refused to go home."

Mrs Code said Shafilea wanted to deal with her situation by presenting herself as homeless to the local authority.

The teacher said she drove her student to the relevant organisations and bed and breakfast accommodation was found.

During the car journey, the teacher said Shafilea told her: "Miss, I'm going to have an arranged marriage and I'm not coming back from Pakistan."

Henry Riding, for the prosecution, asked Mrs Code if Shafilea mentioned an "intended suitor".

The teacher said: "She didn't mention anybody or a specific person. I got the impression she was being taken out there and that would happen while she was out there.

"She was very clear she was going to be married in Pakistan and she was not coming home."

Shafilea spent several days at the B&B until a flat was found for her, the court heard.

But on her last day in the temporary accommodation, an incident took place as Shafilea was walking to school with a friend and Mrs Code called the police.

She said: "Just as the police officers arrived, Mr Ahmed and Shafilea turned up at school together.

"They came in and the police asked to speak to Shafilea by herself so we went to the interview room within the school.

"She told us she was going back home, that everything was going to be OK and it was her decision.

"But everything about her body language was in direct contrast to what she was saying."

Mrs Code described Shafilea as "looking terrified" and said she "couldn't sit still in her chair".

She added: "The police officer told her she could speak freely but she said 'No, no, I'm going back'.

"She kept saying it was fine, she was all right and they had sorted it out.

"But I did not believe that things were fine."

As the meeting ended, Mrs Code told the jury she asked Shafilea: "Are you sure this is it?"

She said the teenager replied: "I've got to go back for my sister."

Mrs Code said: "Shortly afterwards we broke up for half-term and I heard she had gone to Pakistan."

The trial was adjourned until 10.30am on Monday.