Zahid Naseem: City banker who bludgeoned high-class escort Christina Abbotts to death is jailed

Financial consultant sentenced to serve at least 19 years behind bars after killing victim in ‘savage’ attack

Tom Barnes
Friday 21 December 2018 11:44
Police interview with Zahid Naseem for Christina Abbotts' murder

City banker Zahid Naseem has been jailed for at least 19 years for murdering high-class escort Christina Abbotts with a ceramic pestle on her 29th birthday.

Naseem bludgeoned Ms Abbotts to death, striking her 13 times on the back of the head with the kitchen utensil in a killing fuelled by cocaine and champagne.

The 48-year-old told Lewes Crown Court during his trial he had been acting in self-defence, fearing she was trying to strangle him to death in a sex game gone wrong.

However, a jury rejected the financial consultant’s version of events, finding him guilty of murder on Thursday following four hours of deliberations.

Sentencing Naseem, Judge Christine Laing said Ms Abbotts had chosen a profession that would always have the potential to place her in dangerous situations.

“She had chosen to earn her money in a business that is as old time and one that has always carried with it huge risks and dangers, as this case sadly demonstrates,” she said.

The judge said Naseem had presented himself to his victim as a well-spoken, educated, professional man who was looking for a good time, but under the surface the truth was very different.

“Your unsettled work situation was causing you considerable stress,” she said. “You seem to have become obsessed with escorts and you had a drugs and alcohol addiction that was becoming out of control.”

Ms Abbotts, described in court as a “socialite”, kept her profession a secret from her family, telling them instead she worked in IT.

However, charging clients overnight rates starting from £1,000, she used the money to fund a party lifestyle in London, mixing with “posh” and wealthy friends, the court heard.

Naseem, who told jurors he had begun using alcohol, cocaine and sex workers after his marriage became stale, discovered Ms Abbott’s profile on the website adultwork.com under the pseudonym Tilly Pexton.

He met her on the evening of 24 May this year in Crawley, West Sussex, where the pair were last seen in public on CCTV footage in an Asda supermarket buying Veuve-Clicquot champagne.

Naseem claimed he could not remember what had happened to Ms Abbotts in the flat

Concerned friends alerted authorities to a potential problem the following day, when Ms Abbotts failed to attend her own birthday party in South Kensington.

Police broke down the door of the Crawley flat she was house-sitting for a friend on the morning of 26 May to discover her body in the bedroom.

Naseem was found lying seemingly unconscious in the living room wearing only a dressing gown and surrounded by half-drunk glasses of alcohol and drug paraphernalia.

Paramedics were convinced the banker was play-acting, but he only became responsive after he had been taken to hospital, later telling police in interview he had no idea what had happened to Ms Abbotts.

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But, when he gave evidence in court, Naseem said he had struck Ms Abbotts, claiming he had acted in self-defence and admitting a “red mist” may have descended over him.

Prosecutor Christopher Tehrani dismissed his testimony, describing it as a “pack of lies” and telling the banker he had “relentlessly” bludgeoned his victim during a “savage” attack.

Mr Tehrani told the court Naseem, of Amersham, Buckinghamshire, had stayed in the flat for 12 hours after he had killed Ms Abbotts, drinking, taking drugs and sending explicit photographs to other escorts online.

He could not explain to jurors how the pestle – coupled with a mortar bowl later found in the flat’s kitchen by officers – came to be in the bedroom.

Christina Abbotts was beaten to death by Naseem in May this year 

Following the verdict, the parents of Ms Abbotts had paid tribute to their “loving, caring” daughter, saying the picture painted of her during the trial did not fully reflect who she was as a person.

“It has not been mentioned but we would like to clarify that Christina held many legitimate jobs in estate agency and events,” they said in a statement on Thursday.

“She is not here to defend herself in this case and the way she has been portrayed does not reflect and define our Christina.

“What has been highlighted in this case does not change the fact that she was a loving, caring and loyal daughter, sister, niece and friend.”

Additional reporting by agencies