Died 5th July 2011
Mumtahina Jannat (29), known as Ruma, was murdered on 5th July 2011 at her family home in Kempton Road, East Ham, east London. She had two young daughters.
She was strangled to death by her husband Abdul Kadir (46) after she told him she wanted a separation. He was found guilty of murder at the Old Bailey and sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum of 17 years on 9th March 2012.
Ms Jannat was a small woman, only 5’1” tall. The post mortem revealed she had injuries consistent with compression of the neck by hand and an expert concluded pressure must have been applied for at least 20 seconds.
Passing sentence at the Old Bailey, Judge Charles Wide QC said: “You had been married for just short of 11 years and you had two little girls. The marriage had been a very unhappy one. I have no doubt at all that the particular cause of that unhappiness was your behaviour towards her, your attitude towards your wife. As it was put in opening – in my judgment these words were well- chosen – you were a controlling, violent bully. You didn’t want your wife to lead an independent life and you controlled her with violence and threats.”
Ms Jannat and Kadir, who were both from Bangladesh, married in 2000 shortly before coming to the UK. Neighbours had previously witnessed Kadir hitting his wife and Ms Jannat had also complained about injuries she had suffered.
Prosecutor Zoe Johnson said Kadir had been “habitually violent” towards his wife for years and her attempt to separate from him led to the killing.
Ms Johnson said “In an attempt to break free, she unwittingly signed her own death warrant’”. She added “He had kicked her in the belly after she gave birth, broke her wrist and hit her with a belt,”. On one occasion he said: “All of you watch one day what I will do.”
In 2005 Ms Jannat left him and took her children to a women’s refuge.
However, it is reported he pressurised her and eventually managed to return to live in her home. It seems she may have wrongly believed this would be better for the children. Jurors heard he had threatened to burn down her family’s house if she left.
Ms Johnson said “He resented the deceased’s attempts to better herself and become more independent”. She added “He was angry she wanted to go to college and wanted to learn to drive. But he had such control over her that she gave up college and her driving lessons.”
Kadir had travelled to Bangladesh in April 2011 and, while he was away for 2 months, Ms Jannat told him she wished to separate. Kadir rang Ms Jannat and told her: “I will not let you go easily. I will show you. I will finish you off.”
On 5th July, she was found dead at Kempton Road, East Ham, with a scarf wrapped tightly round her neck. Kadir claimed he had taken hold of his wife to stop her self-harming and had strangled her by accident. But the jury took less than an hour to return a guilty verdict.
Ms Jannat was last seen taking the youngest of her two children to school at 8.50am on the day of her death. CCTV footage shows her dropping her daughter off and then walking back towards the house. An hour and a half later, Kadir is seen leaving the house and getting into his car.
He called his brother and arranged to meet him outside their mother’s house after telling him he was “in trouble.” His brother found Ms Jannat lying on her back on the floor in the main bedroom with a kitchen knife next to her right hand. Kadir finally dialled 999 at 12.41pm. Paramedics arrived and unwound the scarf wrapped two or three times around her neck before unsuccessfully attempting to resuscitate her.
Kadir told a police officer: “We were arguing upstairs and began fighting. She picked up a knife so I slapped her across the face. We grabbed each other around the neck. She fell to the floor.”
His brother was heard telling him: “I told you should have swapped your wife because something bad would happen.”
Detective Inspector Kenneth Hughes, of the Homicide and Serious Crime Command, said: “It is clear from our investigation that Mumtahina, known as Ruma by her friends and family, was in an abusive relationship and suffered for several years from domestic violence, perpetrated by her husband Abdul Kadir. I believe that Mr Kadir resented Ruma as she was making a life for herself and her children that did not include him. As a result he strangled her, then took the time to ‘set the scene’ and farcically claim it had all been an accident. I am pleased that the jury rejected his account and found him guilty of her murder. This has been a very sad case to investigate and I would encourage others who are in a similar relationship to seek help and support. They can take the first steps by contacting the National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247.”
Detective Chief Inspector Laurence Smith from the Homicide and Serious Crime Command led the investigation.
Note: This report was drawn from reports in the Murder Maps, the Newham Recorder and the Press Association.