Jailed: Man who went on the run after murdering wife and daughters in East Ham
- Credit: Archant
A curry house waiter who murdered his wife and daughters before fleeing the country 12 years ago has been jailed for life.
Mohammed Abdul Shakur, 46, killed 26-year-old Juli Begum and their children Thanha, six, and Anika, five, leaving them in a bed at their home in Nelson Street, East Ham, on 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 on October 31 after a 10-day trial at the Old Bailey.
His sentencing was adjourned following the guilty verdict to find out how much time he spent in custody in India.
At his sentencing at the Old Bailey on Thursday, February 6 it emerged he spent 2,382 days in custody in India and the UK awaiting trial. As a result his concurrent minimum sentence of 40 years for each murder was reduced by six years, six months and six days.
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His Honour Judge Richard Marks QC, sentencing, said: "It is difficult to find words which adequately convey the sense of outrage that would inevitably be felt by anybody listening to the facts of this case.
"This was a vicious, sustained attack on two little girls and on your wife."
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He added that weighing just over six stone Juli was no match for a well built, six foot tall Shakur.
He said: "It's difficult to imagine three more vulnerable and defenseless victims.
"In the immediate aftermath of the killings you thought only of yourself. You told a tissue of lies as you planned your escape, not having shown one iota of remorse for what you did."
Juli moved to Nelson Street with her mother Karful Nessa in December 2003, leaving Shakur because of tensions in the relationship.
The last time Juli and her daughters were seen in public was in the same street when they were caught on CCTV around Christmas 2006.
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 the Nelson Street home after breaking down the front door. There was no sign of disturbance downstairs, but the door to an upstairs bedroom was open and the curtains closed.
An officer saw a bed and a person's outline beneath 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. She had suffered "catastrophic injuries", Judge Marks said. The cause of her death was recorded as severe head injury.
There were no internal or external injuries on Juli's body, but jurors at Shakur's trial were told smothering was a possible cause.
After murdering his wife and children, Shakur took cash and jewellery to help fund his escape.
Judge Marks said: "What happened between you and Juli to cause you to act as you did is something only you will ever know.
"A huge row must have happened between the two of you, resulting in a serious loss of temper.
"To cover up [murdering Juli] you killed the two girls."
Shakur went to the Bangladeshi High Commission to get a passport on January 2, 2007. He bought a ticket to that country the following day and fled the UK on Friday, January 5, 2007.
He had originally 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 two.
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".
Judge Marks said: "Having heard the victim impact statement, it is clear Juli's family remains utterly devastated by what you did."
Shakur was extradited from Bangladesh in April last year. He was arrested for separate crimes in India in 2013 in one of the first extraditions from the country.
He illegally crossed the border into Assam, India after arriving in Bangladesh.
Judge Marks said: "There you went to ground for around six years. No doubt you thought you had got away with this killing, but justice eventually caught up with you."
An NSPCC spokesman said after sentencing: "These were particularly brutal and horrifying actions which took the lives of a mum and her two young children.
"Shakur may have thought he could continue to evade justice but today, thankfully, he has been handed a long sentence behind bars."
Anyone who has a concern about the welfare of a young person should call the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Young people can also call Childline on 0800 1111.