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Woman and children killed after row over husband’s immigration case, court told

Mohammed Abdul Shakur, 46, is accused over the 2007 deaths of 26-year-old Juli Begum and children Anika and Thanha Khanum, aged five and six.

Juli Begum (Metropolitan Police/PA)
Juli Begum (Metropolitan Police/PA)

By Emily Pennink, Old Bailey Correspondent

A chef murdered his estranged wife and two young daughters in a row over his immigration status, a court has heard.

Bangladeshi Mohammed Abdul Shakur, 46, allegedly killed 26-year-old Juli Begum and children Anika and Thanha Khanum, aged five and six, on New Year’s Day 2007.

Days later, he allegedly fled the country only to be extradited from India in April this year to face trial at the Old Bailey.

Jurors were told Shakur had previously threatened his wife, telling her: “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.”

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Thanha Khanum (rear), six, and Anika Khanum (front), five (Metropolitan Police/PA)

Prosecutor David Spens QC told how Ms Begum led an “insular life” and in 1999, at the age of 19, had travelled from the UK to Bangladesh to marry the defendant, who was her cousin.

In 2000, thanks to her sponsorship, Shakur came to live with his wife and her mother in Poplar, east London.

After three years, the couple had become estranged and Ms Begum, the children and her mother moved to East Ham, east London.

Mr Spens said: “The marriage between Ms Begum and the defendant was not a happy one.

“It was beset by arguments about the defendant’s immigration status and his financial contribution towards the family outgoings.”

He told jurors Ms Begum feared her husband would leave her and marry someone else if he obtained leave to remain in the country.

Mr Spens said: “Juli was unwilling to progress his immigration application, this was a source of friction and they argued.”

While working in Indian restaurants as a chef, Shakur was paid cash in hand and was allowed to live above his work, jurors heard.

He sent money to his family in Bangladesh, while Ms Begum received child benefits, the court heard.

On January 10 2007, Ms Begum’s sister became worried and told police she had not seen the family since New Year’s Eve.

Officers went to the home in Nelson Street, East Ham and found the bodies of Ms Begum and the two children.

Shakur was traced on CCTV walking with Ms Begum and his daughters from and to the Nelson Street area on January 1.

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The case is being heard at the Old Bailey (Nick Ansell/PA)

Mr Spens said that was the last time Ms Begum and her daughters were seen or heard from.

The following day, the defendant allegedly went to the Bangladesh High Commission for an emergency passport and took a one-way flight to Bangladesh on January 5, the court heard.

He allegedly gave different reasons for leaving the country, saying his father was ill, had died and that his mother was sick.

Ms Spens said: “The defendant’s immigration status and his financial contribution remained unresolved at the time of Juli’s death.

“It is the prosecution 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.”

Shakur, who sat with an interpreter in the dock, has denied three counts of murder.

At the start of the case, Judge Richard Marks QC told jurors the case could “evoke emotion”.

But he told them: “Put emotion to one side and decide the case by a calm, fair minded detached assessment land evaluation of the evidence.”

PA

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