‘Significant violence’ inflicted on women found dead in Custom House freezer, court hears

The bodies of Henriett Szucs and Mary Jane Mustafa were found in a freezer in Custom House. Pictures

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

Two women whose bodies were discovered in a chest freezer had been subjected to “very significant violence”, a court has heard.

A jury was told that the remains of Hungarian national Henriett Szucs, who had been sleeping rough in Ilford and Canning Town mum-of-two Mihrican Mustafa, also known as Mary Jane, were discovered by police in a flat in Vandome Close, Custom House on April 27 2019.

The court heard that Ms Szucs had last been seen in August 2016 and Ms Mustafa in May 2018.

Prosecutor Duncan Penny QC told Southwark Crown Court on Wednesday, July 29 that Zahid Younis was the occupier and tenant of the one-bedroom ground-floor flat.

He said: “The prosecution case is that this defendant, who was both the occupant and the tenant of that address throughout the relevant period, had murdered each of these women.

“Thereafter he sought to conceal their remains in the freezer bought for that sole purpose, most probably a short time after the death of the first of the women, Henriett.”

Younis, 35, denies two counts of murder.

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Mr Penny said police had gone to the property looking for Mr Younis when one found a lockable freezer in a cupboard which had flies around it and items stacked on top.

The prosecutor added: “In due course, with a crowbar, that police officer forced open the lid of the freezer and he, that Saturday morning, made a very grim discovery indeed.

“Contained within that small chest freezer were the remains of two women, one of them called Henriett Szucs and the other Mihrican Mustafa.

“One of them, Henriett, had not been seen for nearly three years and the other, Mihrican, she had disappeared almost a year before.

“Prior to their death each of them had been the victim of significant injury, each of them appeared to have been been subject to very significant violence.”

The women, both in their 30s at the time of their disappearances, had suffered numerous rib fractures, while Ms Szucs had sustained “dreadful” head injuries and Ms Mustafa’s sternum and larynx had been fractured, Mr Penny said.

He said the two women were known to have associated with Mr Younis in the weeks leading up to their disappearances, and belongings of each of them were found in the flat.

Both were “vulnerable women living somewhat chaotic lives” including periods of homelessness and class A drug addiction, Mr Penny added.

Diary entries attributed to Ms Szucs, whose body was found partially dressed in her pyjamas, suggested Mr Younis was “violent and controlling” towards her, the prosecutor said,

Ms Szucs’ blood was found on the carpet of the flat and Ms Mustafa’s fingerprint on the oven, Mr Penny said.

The court heard that it appeared there had been periods when the electricity had been disconnected, which had led to some decomposition of the bodies and a “foul smell” in the flat.

Mr Penny said Mr Younis had appeared to abandon the property but he was arrested a few days after the bodies were discovered, Mr Penny said.

He told the jury that after being detained Mr Younis told police: “It’s my house, it’s my problem, no one else is involved.”

But Mr Younis chose to answer “no comment” during police interview, Mr Penny added.

The trial continues.