Guilty: Father who fled the country 12 years ago after murdering his wife and children at their East Ham home

Juli Begum and her daughters Thanha and Anika. Picture: Met Police

Juli Begum and her daughters Thanha and Anika. Picture: Met Police - Credit: Met Police

A curry house chef who killed his wife and two children before fleeing the country 12 years ago has been found guilty of murder.

Mohamed Abdul Shakur. Picture: MPS

Mohamed Abdul Shakur. Picture: MPS - Credit: Archant

Mohammed Abdul Shakur killed 26-year-old Juli Begum and his daughters Thanha, six, and Anika, five, leaving them in a bed at their home in Nelson Street, East Ham, on or around New Year's Day 2007.

Shakur, who was 33 at the time of the offence and an illegal immigrant, was found guilty of three counts of murder today (October 31) after a 10-day trial at the Old Bailey.

In a statement, Juli's relatives said: "Abdul Shakur has destroyed our family. He took away a caring, loving mother and sister, Juli, and he has taken away the future of two young beautiful girls, Thanha and Anika.

"We struggle with thoughts of how their lives may have ended and what each of them must have witnessed in their final moments. We miss them every day and we cannot forgive this senseless loss of life.

"Shakur's final act of cowardice was fleeing to Bangladesh. This meant justice took so long to be delivered. It was something our mother never got to see."

The last time Juli and her daughters were seen in public was in Nelson Street when they were caught on CCTV.

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Juli's sister, Sheli, raised the alarm on January 10, 2007, telling police she was concerned she hadn't seen her sister and nieces since December 31, 2006.

Police searched Nelson Street after forcing their way in through the front door. There was no sign of disturbance downstairs, but the door to a front bedroom was open and the curtains closed.

An officer saw a bed and the outline of a person under the covers. A Pc Bates used his baton to pull them back revealing Juli lying on her back. Lying across her was Anika, with her head alongside her mummy's. A white sock was found tightly bound around her neck.

Both were clothed but showed no signs of life.

Det Insp Wood from East Ham police station then visited the scene, gently pulling the bedcover back further to reveal Thanha's lifeless body. The cause of her death was recorded as severe head injury.

There were no internal or external injuries on Juli's body, but jurors were told smothering was a "possible cause".

A lack of injuries showing signs she had defended herself suggested Shakur had taken her by surprise.

But because Juli and Shakur were first cousins, DNA evidence did not assist the jury in answering the question who killed the girls and their mother.

A used condom found in a bin at the house contained semen matching Shakur's DNA with Juli's DNA on the outside.

David Spens QC, prosecuting, said during the trial: "The prosecution are unable to say whether any sexual activity was consensual or not."

Wedding jewellery was also missing from the property.

At the time, Shakur, now 46, was working at the Ancient Raj Indian restaurant in Frimley, west Surrey, where he lived in a flat above the eatery.

After murdering his wife and children, he went to the Bangladeshi High Commission on January 2, 2007, to get a passport. He then bought a ticket to that country the following day and fled the UK on Friday, January 5, 2007.

Shakur had come to the UK on a spousal visa and was dependent on Juli for his right to remain. But Juli was worried her husband, if he was given leave to remain in the country, would abandon her and marry someone else.

She was unwilling to progress his immigration application and this was a source of friction between the couple.

Juli told her sister, Sheli Begum, that her husband did not like their children because they were girls and he wanted boys.

Shakur would sometimes come home and tell his wife he had seen nicer looking women.

In Sheli's witness statement she reported Shakur telling Juli: "If you don't correct my visa and you don't make me legal to stay in this country then I will kill you and kill your whole family".

Shakur was extradited from Bangladesh in April this year. He was arrested for separate crimes in India in 2013 in one of the first extraditions from the country.

Samantha Yelland, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said: "This has been a long drawn-out pursuit for the truth, which has finally brought about the successful conviction of a ruthless killer."

Shakur is due to be sentenced tomorrow (November 1).