Father is jailed for murdering his family

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A man was convicted yesterday of murdering his former wife and two young children in a jealous rage caused by the irretrievable breakdown of his arranged Muslim marriage.

A man was convicted yesterday of murdering his former wife and two young children in a jealous rage caused by the irretrievable breakdown of his arranged Muslim marriage.

A desperate 999 call made by the son of 34-year-old Zainulabedin Zaidi - recorded and played to the jury - was the defining moment of his trial. During the 109-second call the child was heard pleading: "Don't kill me, Daddy," and telling an operator: "My Dad is getting my Mum and stabbing and killing me."

Zaidi, a former banker, of Slough, Berkshire, was convicted at Reading crown court of murdering his former wife, Shazia Rathore, a 27-year-old social worker, in front of their daughter, Saba, seven, and son, Zeeshan, six. All three were stabbed and their throats slit at their home in Bracknell, Berkshire, on 17 March.

After carrying out the murders, Zaidi bought himself a takeaway curry and then sought refuge with an acquaintance. He was arrested the following day after nationwide police appeals for information about his whereabouts.

Zaidi, who was unemployed at the time of the offences having been made redundant, refused to take the stand and give evidence during the trial and had maintained silence during police interviews. The only sentence he uttered to investigating officers after his arrest was: "I did not murder my wife and two children."

Forensic scientific evidence linked him to the crime, with his former wife's blood being found splattered on his shoes and on his watch.

Zaidi remained impassive as the jury convicted him after two and a half hours of deliberation at the end of an eight-day trial.

Nazia Rathore, the dead woman's twin sister, had told the court that Zaidi was possessive and bad-tempered, and wouldn't let his wife out of his sight. "She wasn't even allowed to go to the doctor's by herself," Ms Rathore said. "Our family was generally quite liberal. We were allowed to go out.We went to mixed schools. We found [Zaidi's] family much more traditional thinking."

Shazia Rathore left home with the children in 1997 and re-married two years later, a fact she tried to keep from her former husband, who had weekend custody rights to his children and forbade her from speaking to him or looking at him when he picked up the children.

On the afternoon of the attack Zaidi drove to his former wife's home armed with a seven-inch knife and attacked her in the living room, stabbing her in the face, chest and several times in the neck.

Despite suffering wounds up to 20cm deep, she tried to defend herself as her two children watched. The brother and sister then ran upstairs to the main bedroom and dialled 999.

Passing down three life sentences, Mr Justice Moses told Zaidi: "Once in the house you stabbed and cut Shazia's throat. You then stabbed and cut the throats of both your son and daughter. They knew what you were about to do. One of them pleaded with you not to kill them."

In a statement, after the verdict the Rathore family said: "We are relieved that that justice has been served, however this doesn't ease our grief of losing our three cherished loved ones. Our family will eventually get through all the grief and hurt, by being together as always as a family, and by remembering our happy times together."

Detective Superintendent Trevor Davies of Thames Valley Police later called Zaidi "a pathetic excuse for a human being" and condemned him for putting witnesses through the ordeal of testifying. The murder scene was "one of the most appalling sights I have ever seen," he said. "For him to deny it with the evidence so overwhelmingly compelling is diabolical."