Estranged husband ‘strangled’ wife years before killing her and their children, court hears

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 tried to strangle his wife in bed years before allegedly taking her life and those of their children, a court has heard.

The bodies of 26-year old Juli Begum and her daughters Thanha, six, and Anika, five, were found together under a bedcover at their home in Nelson Street, East Ham, in January 2007.

Juli's estranged husband, Mohammed Abdul Shakur, now 46 but 33 at the time of the offence and an illegal immigrant, left the UK in the days following the deaths. He was extradited from Bangladesh in April.

An Old Bailey jury has heard Mr Shakur and Juli's marriage was troubled because of his immigration status and financial problems.

In the early 2000s, the Bangladeshi national left the couple's home in Leyland House, Poplar, staying with friend Abu Bakar and his now ex-wife Anwara Begum, who gave evidence in court today (October 24).

Jurors heard Juli confided in Ms Begum about a time she and Mr Shakur were in bed when he put his hands on her neck, claiming he tried to strangle her.

Practice manager, Ms Begum, said she later confronted the defendant, telling the court: "I was very surprised. [Mr Shakur] said it happened while he was asleep and didn't know he had his hands around her neck."

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She agreed Mr Shakur didn't deny doing it, but had suggested it wasn't deliberate when asked by the judge.

Narita Bahra QC, defending, questioned Ms Begum about whether she had confronted Mr Shakur using the Bengali word for "strangle" or whether she went to him saying Juli had made a "complaint" against him.

But David Spens QC, prosecuting, pointed out Ms Begum's witness statement had specifically used the word "strangle".

Recalling a conversation with Juli, Ms Begum reported her saying: "'He's crying to you about all his difficulties. No one is looking at my tears and noticing that I'm crying.'"

The court heard Juli didn't want to make an application for indefinite leave to remain on Mr Shakur's behalf because she feared he would leave her. Ms Begum described Juli being "really unhappy in the relationship".

Mr Shakur had complained to Mr Bakar and Ms Begum his mother in law, Karful Nessa, was causing friction and he was "very unhappy at home", jurors heard.

Mr Shakur denies three counts of murder.

The trial continues.