Minicab murder: Lovers plotted death of ‘problem’ boyfriend, court hears

Mohammed Yasser Afzal

Mohammed Yasser Afzal - Credit: Archant

The couple accused of murdering a minicab controller in his Stratford office exchanged thousands of text messages in the month leading up to his death, a court heard today.

Between March 3 and 28 last year, Nargis Riaz and Gulam Chowdhury sent around 8,000 messages to each other, discussing topics including their love for each other, religion and the “problem” of her boyfriend Mohammed Yasser Afzal, jurors at the Old Bailey were told.

Riaz, 22, and 24-year-old Chowdhury stand accused of Mr Afzal’s murder on March 24, 2014.

Prosecutor Sandip Patel QC said the couple had previously been in a relationship and that the first of the many messages, which were often written in text speak, was sent on February 24, 2014.

Chowdhury had been released from an immigration detention centre days before meeting up with his former lover, university law student Riaz, according to Mr Patel.

He said: “[Chowdhury] became a more devout Muslim during his time in the detention centre and wanted Miss Riaz to convert as well.”

One of the texts said that he would “happily enter hell” in order to be in a relationship with her.

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Another sees Chowdhury, of Heenan Close, Barking, describe himself as a “psycho,” while a third said: “I can’t live with this. I need to kill someone.”

He also told her that he would “have that thing for you before your birthday,” which Mr Patel alleges is a reference to Mr Afzal’s death.

The messages were recovered from a laptop found in Riaz’s bedroom in Fanshawe Avenue, Barking.

They were backed up from her iPhone, which police found had been restored to its factory settings on the morning after Mr Afzal’s death, Mr Patel explained.

Texts were also sent between Chowdhury and his friend, 23-year-old Muhammad Khan, of Lindsey Close, Dagenham, who is charged with assisting an offender. The messages allegedly discussed “scoping out” Mr Afzal before his murder.

Jurors heard how one said: “I was going to get a black boy to steal [Mr Afzal’s] phone and make it look like a jacking.”

The trial continues.