Man jailed for 18 years for attempting to murder pregnant partner
A 41-year-old man jailed for attempting to murder his pregnant partner after repeatedly stabbing her in the street had been forced to choose between his Muslim mother's faith and the "love of his life".
Company director Babur Raja had also admitted attempted child destruction, possession of a knife in public and the wounding and assault of two passers-by in Sutton Coldfield's town centre on March 4.
He was jailed for 18 years at Birmingham Crown Court.
In mitigation, Raja's own barrister said his conservative Muslim mother "literally drove him mad" in the run up to the attack by forcing him to choose between her love and that of his partner, Natalie Queiroz.
Jane Humphryes QC added that this family turmoil "tipped him over the edge" leading to a temporary mental illness or "adjustment disorder", leaving him with little memory of what he had done.
She said: "His mother had not been happy he was in a relationship with a white woman, and told him he must leave her or she would not be in contact."
Ms Humphryes added: "This man of impeccable character is driven literally to distraction, forced by his own mother to choose between her and his chosen partner and their unborn baby."
In Raja's sentencing hearing at Birmingham Crown Court on Thursday, the judge had earlier heard how Ms Queiroz's breast implants "were probably what saved her life" during the frenzied assault.
Prosecuting barrister Benjamin Aina QC also told how had Raja plunged his knife just 2mm further into the abdomen of his helpless victim "it would have killed the (unborn) baby".
The court heard the child was born unharmed and was now doing well.
Sentencing Raja for his "merciless" assault on Ms Queiroz, Judge Simon Drew QC said: "Once you chose your mother over your partner and child, you resolved not only to terminate your relationship, but to terminate them."
He added: "This was a deliberate, pre-meditated attack designed to kill and destroy your partner and unborn child."
The judge also handed Raja an extension to his period on licence of four years.
The court heard how Raja had promised to transfer £36,000 to his partner, and had arranged to meet her for an appointment at a bank in Sutton Coldfield when the cash failed to materialise.
Judge Drew described how Raja had "promised to support her financially" but "had little money in the bank", and had felt under pressure over the building cash worries.
Raja had spoken to his partner on the phone as she walked to the bank, asking her what route she was taking, and causing Ms Queiroz to joke that he was her "stalker".
The judge said: "Little did she know how prescient her observation was."
Judge Drew said the attack was "clearly, carefully planned".
He added: "This was no spontaneous meltdown, it was a deliberate act."
Continuing, the judge went on: "It's all too clear what brought this matter to a head was not only was Ms Queiroz pregnant and the fact she was going to give birth, but the financial circumstances beginning to engulf you.
"You had made promises you were unable to keep, and about to be found out - and you realised you had to do something about it."
He ruled that Raja had left his wallet in his car, worn a disguise to make himself look fatter, and picked an area not covered by CCTV to strike, leaving his chances of "getting away" improved.
Judge Drew said he had no doubt Raja - who had also not told his mother his partner was pregnant - also felt under pressure from his family.
But he added: "However, in my judgment, that was brought about by your own actions for which you are totally responsible."
Ms Queiroz was walking down Trinity Hill in Sutton at about 3.30pm that afternoon when the attack happened.
Opening the case, the Crown's QC, said: "She heard footsteps behind her at a rapid pace.
"An arm reached from behind and grabbed her upper body, and she screamed 'get off me'.
"She saw a knife come over her shoulder and she was repeatedly stabbed to her chest."
She was knocked to the floor in the struggle, but managed to break free and at that point "saw the attacker was Mr Raja".
Raja, who wore a disguise to "look fat" in the form of rucksack worn on his front and under his hoodie, was then tackled by have-a-go heroes alerted to his victim's screams.
But he lashed out at the Good Samaritans with the kitchen knife, before going after his victim a second time with the 12-inch blade, catching up with her as she collapsed to the floor.
Mr Aina added: "He continued to stab her with a knife to her wrist and upper arm.
"He grabbed her head, trying to cut her throat, while she was shouting 'don't kill me', begging him to stop.
Heroic by-standers managed to overpower Raja, with one man delivering about 20 kicks to the man's head before he was restrained and arrested.
The judge remarked: "Had they not intervened I have no doubt you would have succeeded in killing the mother and the child."
He commended the members of the public, aged between 16 and 70 - two of whom were injured in the fray, and said "they should be properly recommended for their prompt actions".
Ms Queiroz suffered 24 separate knife wounds including stab injuries to her chest, stomach, upper right arm, and left wrist - which has caused loss of feelings in her fingers.
After being taken to hospital, surgeons carried out an emergency Caesarean-section to deliver the baby, while she ended up spending two weeks in hospital.
Charting the impact of the attack in a victim statement read to court, 40-year-old Ms Queiroz said she had been"deceived and betrayed", adding: "I am destroyed"
As Raja, sitting in the dock, looked at his feet, she added: "I struggle to function normally".
She described how she had gone from being "fairly fearless and extremely confident" to having flashbacks of the attack and feeling "intense unease".
The judge also stated it was "highly likely" the couple's child "will suffer long-term psychological problems growing up knowing what you, the father, tried to do".
The court also heard Raja had received a photograph of his child, now living with its mother, from Ms Queiroz.