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Murder accused ‘wasn’t comfortable’ with calling police when he found dead body in flat, court hears

PUBLISHED: 12:52 24 August 2020 | UPDATED: 12:57 24 August 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 hiding their bodies in a freezer said that he “wasn’t comfortable” with calling the police after finding one of them dead in his flat.

Zahid Younis told Southwark Crown Court about the day he claimed he found Henriett Szucs dead in his Vandome Close, Custom House flat. The 36-year-old denies the murder of both Ms Szucs, 34, and 38-year-old Mihrican Mustafa, also known as Mary Jane.

Duncan Penny QC, prosecuting, challenged Mr Younis on why he didn’t call police on the day the defendant alleges he found the body of Ms Szucs – a Hungarian national who had been sleeping rough in Ilford.

Mr Younis said: “I was panicking because there was a dead body in my house. I have got criminal convictions and a criminal past. I wasn’t comfortable with calling the police and letting them know I got a dead body in my flat.”

He said that he had left Ms Szucs in his flat with two other women when he went out to meet friends in Ilford Lane at about midday. He said he returned home at around 5pm or 6pm.

He said that on finding Ms Szucs unresponsive, he tried to revive her by pumping her chest.

When Mr Penny said that he was not a trained paramedic, the defendent replied: “I did a first aid course in school.”

The prosecutor said: “Did it ever cross your mind to invite a professional to do it?”

Mr Younis replied: “My head was all over the place. I was panicking. She was unconscious. To me she looked like she was dead. She was dead.”

Jurors were told that he then went out for a walk.

Mr Younis said that he first met Ms Szucs at the Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel, when he was being treated there for Crohn’s disease and he was smoking outside. The court heard the pair discussed why they were in hospital, with Mr Younis saying Ms Szucs told him she had been thrown from a window by another man.

On the nature of their relationship, Mr Younis said: “She used to come over and have a wash and have a bite to eat.” He added that there had been occasions when the two had had sex.

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“She used to turn up at mad hours, 3 o’clock, 4 o’clock,” he said. “This girl was full of big, big problems.

“It came to a stage I didn’t want to hear any more of it.”

Asked how she came by the broken ribs she was found with, Mr Younis said: “I don’t know how she sustained any injuries.”

He said he had bumped into Ms Szucs at the end of August 2016 - the month when she was last seen - round the back of Queen’s Market after being unable to get cannabis from his usual dealer.

The court heard that a member of the public called police to report “four or five Asian men with a dog” and “a white woman in a head scarf” acting suspiciously. Mr Younis admitted he was one of those men and that the woman was Ms Szucs. He told the court that the two were stopped in his car by police after he had purchased the cannabis.

He said that he and Ms Szucs had argued a couple of times over why she wore a hijab, saying it was for the “wrong reasons” as she had claimed it helped her not get caught when she went shoplifting. But Mr Penny questioned whether her wearing it had anything to do with “hiding any injuries on her head and neck”.

The court also heard Mr Younis had pleaded guilty in September 2018 to stealing £60 that a 91-year-old neighbour kept in a jam jar.

Explaining the circumstances leading up to his arrest for this, he told the court he was kidnapped by “four or five men” as he sat in a courtesy car.

“They wanted me to drive them out of London,” Mr Younis said, adding that he was able to escape when one of them hit him in the face and he convinced them to let him go into a bookie’s in Chadwell Heath to clean up.

He told jurors that when the police were called, it was later found that he was wanted for the theft of his neighbour’s money and he was arrested.

While in custody at Forest Gate Police Station, he said, “in frustration” he spat at a “man in a suit” and was arrested for assaulting a police officer.

When recapping previously discussed pieces of evidence that Mr Younis contested the accuracy of, he accused the police and Mr Penny of coaching witnesses, and said that the prosecutor was “inventing stuff”.

Mr Penny told Mr Younis: “You are a master of an intricate and developing story,” adding: “You will invent an entirely false story to try and get yourself a bit of cash.”

The trial continues.


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