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Custom House murder accused ‘asked WhatsApp group how to get rid of a woman’, court hears

PUBLISHED: 13:33 30 July 2020 | UPDATED: 13:33 30 July 2020

The bodies of Henriett Szucs and Mary Jane Mustafa were found in a freezer in Custom House. Pictures: Ellie Hoskins and Ayse Hussein.

The bodies of Henriett Szucs and Mary Jane Mustafa were found in a freezer in Custom House. Pictures: Ellie Hoskins and Ayse Hussein.

Archant

A man accused of murdering two women and concealing their bodies in a freezer asked a WhatsApp group how to “get rid” of a woman shortly before one of them was reported missing, a court has heard.

Duncan Penny QC said that Zahid Younis was a member of a motivation group on the social media app and posted in there in May 2018.

He told Southwark Crown Court on Thursday, July 30: “The defendant sent a message in that group. A girl was in his flat giving him a hard time and he wanted to get rid of her.”

He explained that most of the group advised Mr Younis to call 999, although one member started teasing him about the situation.

That message was sent in the same month that Mihrican Mustafa, also known as Mary Jane, was reported missing.

The bodies of Ms Mustafa, from Canning Town, and Henriett Szucs, a 34-year-old Hungarian national who had been sleeping rough in Ilford, were found in a chest freezer in Mr Younis’ flat in Vandome Close, Custom House, in April last year.

Mr Penny told how the last time Ms Mustafa was seen by her family, she had visited them asking for money.

“Mihrican’s mother recalled how on a date in May 2018 Mihrican came to the family house,” he told the court.

“She asked for money. [Mihrican’s mother] threw a £20 note at her, knowing it was going to be used for drugs.

“She told her it was the last time she would give her money. That was the last time she saw Mihrican.”

The 38-year-old had been seen in the company of Mr Younis in the period before her disappearance, including by a shopkeeper in Freemasons Road.

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“The defendant had been seen in company with Mihrican by a shopkeeper in that parade of shops,” Mr Penny said.

“Whilst the defendant was well known in the area and generally disliked, [the shopkeeper] thought of Mihrican as a nice girl who had struggled since she had developed a drug and drink problem.”

Jurors were also told that Mr Younis had a history of controlling behaviour and violence towards women stretching back to 2001, including against two who he had fathered children with. A third woman required hospital treatment for one of the injuries he inflicted on her, the court heard, and she was also left unable to walk properly for more than half a year.

He had threatened to one girlfriend that he would put their young child on a plane to Pakistan and had married another - who he had begun a relationship with when she was just 13 - in an Islamic ceremony when she was 14.

The court also heard how Mr Younis, also known as Boxer, Z and Ali, had befriended a woman in early 2019, telling her he was homeless, and she had given him £1,400. When she visited him at the Vandome Close flat, he told her he had only just moved in.

In April that year, the woman raised concerns about Mr Younis’ welfare, saying she had not heard from him for several days. Police initially visited the 35-year-old’s home on April 25, with no response, and again two days later, when the officers forced entry.

The court was told how the electricity was off in the property, with one of the officers noticing a padlocked chest freezer that had flies around it. After forcing it open with a crowbar and looking inside with a torch, one of the officers identified a foot inside a sock and declared the property a crime scene.

Mr Penny also told how a receipt for the chest freezer was found in the property, showing it had been bought for cash in the Beckton branch of Currys on November 11, 2016 and collected rather than delivered.

Mr Younis gave the store the name and address of someone he had grown up and gone to school with, but who he hadn’t seen since 2005, the court was told.

Ms Szucs had last been seen in August 2016, just a few months before the freezer was purchased.

Mr Younis, who denies two counts of murder, declined to leave Belmarsh Prison to attend the day’s proceedings. Judge Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb elected to continue in his absence.

The trial continues.


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