Man accused of murdering wife and daughters at East Ham home went on the run for a decade, 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 father placed the dead bodies of his wife and two daughters together on a bed before fleeing the country, a court has heard.

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

Her estranged husband, Mohammed Abdul Shakur, who was 33 at the time of the offence and an illegal immigrant, went on the run and was extradited from Bangladesh in April this year.

An Old Bailey jury heard today (October 18) that Mr Shakur, now 46, paid £340 for a one way ticket to Bangladesh before leaving the UK on January 5, 2007 - just days after it is alleged that he killed his wife and daughters.

The jury heard police searched the Nelson Street house, forcing their way in through the front door on January 10, 2007, after Juli's sister Sheli raised the alarm.

Officers found no sign of disturbance downstairs, but the door to one of three bedrooms was open with the curtains closed, the court heard.

An officer saw a bed with covers on and the outline of a person. A Pc Bates used his baton to pull back the cover revealing Juli lying on her back. Lying across her was Anika, with her head alongside her mum's.

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David Spens QC, prosecuting, said: "Whoever had killed them had not only taken care to place Anika's body across that of her mother, but he had also placed Thanha next to them on the bed and then he had covered all three up."

Both were clothed but showed no signs of life, the court heard.

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

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

A lack of injuries showing signs she had defended herself suggested Juli, "a petite woman", had been taken by surprise, the court heard.

Anika's cause of death was strangulation, the jury heard. A white sock was found tightly bound around her neck, Mr Spens said.

Thanha's cause of death was severe head injury. Blows to the head caused extensive skull fractures and bruising to the brain, the jury heard.

The court heard she remained alive for up to 30 minutes after the blows were inflicted.

Mr Spens said it was likely Juli would have been killed first, because if her daughters were attacked first then she would have fought against their attacker.

The jury heard that because Juli and Mr Shakur were first cousins, DNA evidence would not assist them in answering the question who killed the girls and their mother.

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

Mr Spens said: "The prosecution are unable to say whether any sexual activity was consensual or not."

The jury heard that the defendant's semen was also found on a sarong while there were two large blood stains underneath a black cardigan and sarong in the bedroom. The blood was Thanha's.

Wedding jewellery was also missing from the property, the jury heard.

The court was also told how Juli and Mr Shakur had an arranged marriage in 1999 in Bangladesh with the young bride returning to the UK pregnant with Thanha

In 2000 Mr Shakur moved to the UK, at first living in Leyland House, Poplar, with Juli and her mother, before the family moved to East Ham without him after the couple separated.

An Old Bailey jury heard that the marriage was not a happy one and "beset by arguments" about the defendant's immigration status.

David Spens QC, prosecuting, said: "The defendant's immigration status and his financial contribution remained unresolved at the time of Juli's death.

"It is the prosecution's case that what caused the defendant to kill his wife is most likely to have been an argument about one or both of these issues."

Jurors heard that Mr Shakur had a history of violence towards Juli.

In June 2001, Mr Spens said, while Juli was pregnant with Anika, the defendant grabbed her by the neck causing her difficulty in breathing. In the process he scratched 10-month old Thanha.

Juli reported the assault on June 26, telling police curry house chef Mr Shakur was becoming "increasingly violent" towards her, threatening to put chilli in her eyes so she could not see and then kill her family. She told police the cause was his missing passport.

Two days later Mr Shakur went to Nelson Street, grabbed Juli, pushes her against a wall and threatened to kill everyone in the house. Juli told the police the argument started because of the missing passport. Juli was seven months pregnant and Thanha was present at the time, jurors heard.

Mr Spens said: "These were not isolated incidents but showed a pattern of aggressive behaviour towards his wife.

"This evidence does, say the prosecution, make it more likely that he would use violence against his wife in the future and if necessary his children."

He added that the prosecution will contend that the killer was no stranger to Juli.

Mr Spens said further signs Mr Shakur was the killer included the fact there were no signs of forced entry at the family home; a neighbour had never seen a visitor to the house other than Juli's sister Sheli and her estranged husband and his and Juli's DNA was on a condom found by police in a bin inside the house.

There was no evidence to suggest Juli had any male friends or a boyfriend who she knew other than the defendant, the jury heard.

Mr Spens said: "The acrimony between the defendant and his wife over his immigration status and his financial contributions were like sores that would not heal within the marriage."

He added that despite "apparent reconciliation", suggested by evidence of a used condom found at the scene with Mr Shakur and Juli's DNA on, those "frustrations came to a head."

Mr Shakur denies three counts of murder.

The trial continues.