Builder found guilty of kidnapping, raping and cutting throat of niece

'My heart is heavy. However, I will not let it be broken by the cowardly actions of an evil monster,' Celine Dookhran's mother tells the Old Bailey

Ryan Butcher
Wednesday 14 February 2018 20:57 GMT
Mujahid Arshid jailed for life after kidnapping, rape and murder in Kingston

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Louise Thomas

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A man was called "pure evil" after he was handed a life sentence for the murder of his niece and the attempted murder of another woman.

Mujahid Arshid, who was also convicted of raping the two women, must serve a minimum term of 40 years.

The 33-year-old builder tasered and kidnapped Celine Dookhran, 20, and the other young woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, on 19 July last year, London's Old Bailey heard.

The pair were bound, gagged and wrapped in dust sheets before Arshid took them to a £1.5million six-bedroom house in south west London, which he had been working on.

Arshid then raped both women before slitting Miss Dookhran's throat and dumping her body in a chest-high deep freezer he had installed two days earlier.

He then slashed the other woman's neck but she survived and managed to escape after convincing Arshid they could run away together, the court heard.

Miss Dookhran's family shouted "yes" as the verdicts were given.

Arshid however, shouted: "Your honour what's this?"

He then told Miss Dookhran's family to "shut up" while gesturing with his hands.

He then tried to blame his other victim, claiming it was she who killed Miss Dookhran.

"She is lying to all of you," he said. "Before I die I will prove that bitch wrong."

Arshid was also found guilty of one count of sexual assault and one count of sexual assault by penetration, dating back to between November 2008 and November 2010, and involving the second woman.

In a victim statement read to the court, Miss Dookhran's mother, Iman Nadeem said her daughter had fallen victim to "pure evil".

"Celine was our beautiful, caring, fun and intelligent daughter, and I wish to pay this tribute," she said. "However no emotions shown or words spoken will ever be able to describe fully the devastation and heartache I felt on the day she was so cruelly taken away from all those who loved and cared for her.

"The disgusting and senseless actions of Mujahid Arshid deprived Celine of a future, a great future, where she could go on to further her ambitions, get married, and perhaps have a family of her own. She will always be in the darkness that surrounds us. I feel that my world has collapsed.

"Celine's death has left our family feeling cheated and robbed. My heart is heavy. However, I will not let it be broken by the cowardly actions of an evil monster. She was the heart and soul of our family. No mother or family should ever have to bury their daughter."

The court heard that after committing the murder and seemingly coming to terms with what he had done, Arshid called his brother and they met.

Upon seeing the injuries to the second victim, the brother took her to the hospital where she raised the alarm and gave details of what had happened to police. Officers later discovered the body in the padlocked freezer.

Arshid had fled to Folkestone, Kent, by this point but was later arrested in a Holiday Inn, with the keys to the freezer's padlock and purses belonging to the two victims still in his possession.

The murderous plan was hatched after Arshid became "obsessed" with Miss Dookhran, who worked in Barclays bank in Sutton, the court heard.

But he knew that she was having a sexual relationship with her boyfriend, a Libyan Muslim.

Prosecutor Crispin Aylett QC said that Arshid realised Miss Dookhran was "beyond his clutches" and he resolved if he could not have her, then "nobody else would".

"Thereafter, and it is as bizarre as it is terrible, he intended to rape them before murdering them and disposing of their bodies," said Mr Aylett. "He considered either putting them in acid, in order that their bodies might dissolve, or else concealing them in a deep freezer."

The night before the murder, a family meeting took place in which pressure was put on Miss Dookhran and her boyfriend to end their relationship by her family, who wanted her to date a Pakistani Muslim.

They agreed to stop seeing each other but no one could have been sure they meant it, so Arshid used the uncertainty to his advantage and put his plan into action.

(Court artist sketch of Vincent Tappu (left) and Mujahid Arshid )
(Court artist sketch of Vincent Tappu (left) and Mujahid Arshid ) (Court artist sketch of Vincent Tappu (left) and Mujahid Arshid)

Bursting into Miss Dookhran's home wearing a balaclava and gloves, he scooped up clothes and phones to give the impression they had run away. He also grabbed her underwear before leaving the house with the two women.

After being arrested, Arshid's laptops were examined and it was found he had searched the interview for strong painkillers, chest freezers, "human cremation", butchering the human carcass" and "acid bath murderer".

He also read a Wikipedia page about the infamous acid bath murderer John George Haigh, who was hanged in 1949 for murdering six people and disposing of their remains, including in acid baths.

In his defence, Arshid claimed the searches had been made by his second victim.

A search had also been made for Harry Potter, which he said proved it was not him as he hates the fictional wizard.

In 2013, Arshid had offered the surviving victim up for rape on an internet chat room while talking to an undercover detective. She was a teenager at the time.

He said: "It's going to be a very memorable Christmas. These type of girls deserve rape. Lol."

Arshid was questioned by police about the posts but no further action was taken after he claimed it was an employee.

In a police interview, Arshid's second victim described hearing screams and thuds as he killed Miss Dookhran.

When he turned to her, she told him: "No, no, no we need to talk."

She went on to tell officers that Arshid slit her neck and wrists and told her: "Now you've got 10 minutes to live and your body will shut down."

In the police interview, she said: "He molested Celine's body while she was dead and then he molested me thinking I was dead. He's such a psycho. I sat up and he said, 'How have you got so much energy?' I was covered in blood from head to toe. I was swimming in it.

"I started saying things I knew he wanted to hear – I love you, we can run away together, we can be happy together, we can have a family. He said, 'I'm not good enough for you, look what I have done.'"

In a statement, the family of the surviving victim said: "Mujahid Arshid tried to destroy the life of the surviving victim ever since she met him. He has manipulated and lies repeatedly, and continued this throughout the trial.

"Mujahid Arshid persistently fabricated the truth and attempted to deceive the courts and the same can be said of those that have supported him during the course of this trial. More so, Arshid, by pleading not guilty, ensured that the surviving victim would have to relive that horrific day in minuscule detail during the course of this trial.

"He showed not an ounce of remorse throughout this trial, in spite of the hurt and pain her purposefully caused. He should hang his head in shame."

​Detective chief inspector Sam Price, who led the investigation for the Homicide and Major Crime Command, described the crime as a "sexually motivated attack of unspeakable violence".

"Throughout the trial, Arshid's attempts to deflect blame from himself have been deplorable," she explained. "I am glad the jury have seen through his lies and have convicted him of these horrific crimes.

"Celine's family have been forced to sit through weeks of reliving their daughter's last hours and they have done this with absolute dignity. Their distress has been compounded by the fact Arshid was someone they knew and trusted.

"I would like to pay tribute to them, and the surviving victim, who have shown great strength and courage during this investigation – this is in complete contrast to Arshid's cowardice."

Co-accused Vincent Tappu, a 28-year-old labourer from west London, was cleared of two counts of kidnap and one count of possessing a firearm with intent.

He broke down in the dock and wept as his verdicts were returned and said "thank you" to the jury, while his supporters in the public gallery shook their fists in happiness.

Mr Tappu had denied any involvement in the plot, claiming he only went near the house where the women were kidnapped to pick up some money he was owed, but he did not go inside.

Navnit Dosanjh, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said: "This was a premeditated series of crimes in which the victims were deliberately targeted and endured violent sexual assaults at the hands of Arshid after he plotted their kidnap.

"The prosecution was able to prove his guilt through careful analysis and the presentation of evidence, including mobile phone data and DNA evidence, which demonstrated his participation in these appalling crimes.

"Arshid showed no remorse. He attempted to evade arrest after the killing and even accused the surviving victim of having carried out the murder herself. The surviving victim showed immense courage and resilience in reliving her ordeal in the witness box when giving evidence.

"I would like to thank her for that bravery, and our thoughts are with her and the family of Celine Dookhran at this time."

Additional reporting from SWNS and PA

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