On the afternoon Somaiya Begum was brutally murdered, the hard-working and clean-living undergraduate was in good spirits with her problems seemingly behind her.
Without warning everything changed when her uncle Mohammed Taroos Khan, 53, walked into the house he had been banned from entering by court order.
A jury was told how he murdered his 20-year-old niece in the lounge, embedding the 11cm long spike from a tool in his workshop into her back and probably strangling her.
This senseless crime may have been the terrible aftermath of Miss Begum’s refusal at the age of 16 to obey her parents and marry her first cousin in Pakistan.
Her controlling and misogynistic father Yaseen had stopped her going to college, watching television and wearing western clothes.
But the teenager boldly escaped from the family home in Bradford, went to police and was made the subject of a Forced Marriage Protection Order – a legal device brought in 15 years ago to protect vulnerable girls and young women from being forced into marriage.
In the eyes of her father and certain members of her wider family, the ‘dishonour’ of refusing the arranged marriage was compounded by this further betrayal.
Somaiya Begum, 20, was found with the 11cm-long ‘Bradawl’ tool – a sharpened metal woodwork implement – stuck in the right side of her chest
Police in Bradford searched an industrial estate and house believed to be connected to the disappearance of Somaiya Begum
To add fuel to the fire of clashing cultures, the Khan family, who come from the Muslim Pathan community, was already deeply divided by a bitter 20-year feud that split them down the middle.
Perhaps it was the simmering hatred and tensions within the family circle that somehow prompted her uncle to brutally cut short the life of a loving biomedical student, who divided her time between her studies, working as a carer and looking after her frail grandmother.
The warring family factions continued through to Khan’s murder trial at Bradford Crown Court. The defendant, who denied knowing about the murder last June but admitted covering it up by dumping Miss Begum’s body the next day and burning her mobile phone, gave no evidence in his own defence.
But his barrister Zafar Ali, KC, pointed the finger at Miss Begum’s father Yaseen, whose treatment of his daughter made ‘her life a living hell’ and was ‘reminiscent of the Middle Ages,’ attempting to trade her as ‘if she was some commodity.’
He lived nearby and had been ‘humiliated’ and ‘incandescent with rage’ when she went to police over the forced marriage attempt, the court heard.
He was the man with a motive, said Mr Ali.
Yaseen was at home on the day of the murder and CCTV showed he didn’t leave by the front door (although no camera covered the back door). His behaviour was ‘normal’ and police thoroughly checked his phone for evidence.
The court heard he took no part in the trial as he flew to Pakistan on a ‘one-way’ ticket in January after an Islamic divorce from his wife.
It was left to other relatives to explain the acrimony and history of the decades long family bust-up that provided the backdrop to an innocent young woman’s murder.
Forensic officers and sniffer dogs were seen search for evidence at Miss Begum’s home
Miss Begum’s ‘liberal’ uncle Dawood Khan said there were ‘many arguments’ when years earlier the large family were living at the house in Binnie Street – the scene of the murder.
Yaseen’s mother wanted him and his wife Sabbiyah to leave, but he refused.
Eventually Yaseen pushed his mother Anwar Begum against a wall and said ‘I’m not ******* leaving!’
He called the police at 1am and had his own mother and other family members evicted.
The result was a five-year legal battle that ended with grandmother and mother-of-seven Anwar being restored to the matriarch of the Binnie Street address and her son Yaseen being forced out. Young Somaiya Begum was caught up in the middle.
As for Khan, he shared many of his brother Yaseen’s misogynistic traits and violent tendencies.
The court heard how Yaseen would ‘batter’ his younger sisters when they were 14 or 15 and how Miss Begum was ‘petrified’ of him at a similar age.
Three-times married Khan was violent towards his own daughter Kynath. She told the court he also restricted what she could do and wear and believed ‘men are superior.’
Somaiya Begum, 20, was last seen at her home address on Binnie Street in Bradford on Saturday afternoon at approximately 2pm
During one argument in 2016 Khan hit his daughter, held a knife to her throat and threatened to ‘chop her up.’ He was subsequently convicted of battery at Bradford Magistrates Court. A restraining order was imposed that banned him from contacting Kynath and his mother Anwar and from going to the family home in Binnie Street.
Kynath was close friends with her cousin Somaiya and in 2020 when the forced marriage protection order was issued she moved in to the same house with her grandmother and uncle Dawood.
Her father Yaseen was also banned from contacting her or going there.
Away from her parents, Miss Begum was allowed freedom to live as she pleased and go to Leeds Beckett University.
But Khan, who repaired catering equipment for a living, remained effectively ostracised and angry.
Dawood said emotions about the family split remained strong. Asked about the defendant, he said: ‘He hated my mother for what she did to him. For what she has done to his life.’
Having not been inside Binnie Street for a decade, Khan turned up on 25 June last year.
A neighbour’s CCTV picked up an argument between a man and a woman before Khan drove off again to get a key, provided by his elderly mother to the house he was banned from, cut.
He returned to Binnie Street at 3.49pm, when more raised voices between a man and a woman were recorded. At around this time Miss Begum’s phone was active for a final time.
Police believe Khan then killed his niece as his brother Dawood slept two floors further up and his mother Anwar was also in bed with sciatica.
He drove off at 4.33pm after hiding the body and went in search of a large bag to transport it in.
When Khan returned to Binnie Street an hour later Dawood, who worked delivering prescriptions and checking on palliative care patients at home, was shocked to find him there.
Khan said he had come to see his mother and Dawood backed away from a row.
He was surprised his niece was no longer there and within hours was worried and began phoning her.
The next day Khan returned to the house, parking in a back alley, as soon as Dawood went to work.
The biomedical student was found dead just over a mile from her home in Bradford after a major week-long police search
He collected the body and dumped it like ‘garbage’, rolled up inside a carpet, at an area of rubbish-strewn wasteland near an industrial unit where he had been working.
When police became involved Khan quickly became a suspect and was arrested.
Detectives traced his movements as they continued to hunt for Miss Begum and CCTV showed him dragging a large item from his car at the Fitzwilliam Street works site.
Police then discovered her decomposed body.
Yesterday Aneeta Prem, founder of the Freedom Charity, which supports victims of forced marriage and family dishonour, said Miss Begum’s murder was ‘a tragedy that should never have happened.’
‘A young 20-year-old who had her whole life ahead of her, an exceptional student, a beautiful young girl, whose life has been taken away from her, is such a waste. We have got to learn from this so that her death is not in vain.’
She said it was not unusual for ‘dishonour’ cases to involve the ‘wider family’ who regard the breaking of an arranged marriage ‘promise’ as bringing shame to them in the local community.
Family courts in the UK deal with around 200 Forced Marriage Protection Order cases a year, but campaigners believe it is a far bigger problem.
Ms Prem said the roots of these cases, where young girls often suffer abuse and rape, lie in the culture of treating boys ‘exceptionally special’ compared to girls and ‘misogyny.’
She said it was a ‘cultural’ problem that ‘crossed the boundaries’ of class and did not just involve socially-deprived families.
‘The only way we are to prevent this is through education and changing opinions really early on,’ she said.
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