A Bangladeshi man who had been extradited from India on charges of murdering his wife and two young daughters in London was convicted of the triple murder by a UK court on Thursday.
Mohammed Abdul Shakur was found guilty at the Old Bailey court in London of the murder of his wife, 26-year-old Juli Begum, and their two daughters – five-year-old Anika Khanum and six-year-old Thanha Khanum – at the family home in East Ham, east London. The 45-year-old will be sentenced for the murders on Friday.
Detective Sergeant Amjad Sharif, Specialist Crime investigator at Scotland Yard, said: “I would like to thank our international policing counterparts in Bangladesh and India, and especially the Foreign and Commonwealth representative who assisted us so well in circulating Shakur as a wanted man to local police, and indeed informing us when he was located. This is a prime example of the good that can come from international law enforcement working together to catch criminals.
"Now at last Shakur will serve a substantial custodial sentence for the horrific crimes he committed.”
The court heard that police were called to the family address on January 1, 2007, after a concerned family member had not seen or heard from Juli for around 10 days, and the children had not returned to school after the Christmas break. Police attended and forced entry to the address.
There they found the bodies of Juli, Anika and Thanha concealed under a duvet in a rear bedroom. Post-mortem examinations for the three were held at East Ham mortuary in January 2007.
Cause of death for Juli was initially inconclusive but later ruled to be consistent with asphyxiation. Thanha’s cause of death was recorded as consistent with head trauma, while Anika was confirmed as having been killed by strangulation with a ligature.
Detective Sharif added: “We will likely never be able to understand what could have driven Shakur to snap and end the lives of his wife and two daughters so violently and callously.
“In the years since, Juli, Anika and Thanma’s family have had to endure the most unimaginable torment. At times it must have seemed that there would never be justice; from Shakur immediately fleeing the UK, to the protracted process that followed over many years when he was finally apprehended.
“I am happy now to say that we have finally achieved justice for Juli and her daughters, and her family. I would like to thank them for their unwavering support throughout. Though many years have passed, I know their grieving continues, and I hope this development will allow them some small measure of comfort.”
The court was told that Shakur and Juli had had an arranged married in Bangladesh in October 1999 and she had subsequently sponsored his immigration visa so that they could return to the UK. However, incidents of domestic conflict began to emerge just a few months into the marriage.
Metropolitan Police detectives had launched a murder investigation and Shakur was quickly identified as a suspect.
Detectives established that Shakur had attended the Bangladeshi High Commission in London to obtain a passport that same day. The following day he went to a travel agent and ordered a one-way ticket to Bangladesh.
A statement from the victims’ family 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.”
Enquiries to trace and arrest Shakur were undertaken in Bangladesh and India after information suggested that he was in the Assam region of India, close to the border of Bangladesh.
Contact was made with a UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) representative in New Delhi, who informed local police of the Met’s interest in Shakur.
Several years passed by without any trace of Shakur.
However, in May 2013, the FCO representative called detectives to inform them that Shakur had been arrested for being in India illegally. It is thought that he had been crossing back and forth between the countries on a regular basis for work.
Formal extradition proceedings from India then got underway and Shakur said he would not oppose extradition. He was finally extradited back to the UK on April 6 this year and now faces a lengthy jail term for three murders.