Died 22nd July 2014
Tia Kounota (27) was found dead in a burning car in Fentham Road, Erdington in Birmingham on 22nd July 2014.
Damian Dinobewei (34) of Stirchley, has been charged with her murder and has appeared in Birmingham Crown Court.
Ms Kounota had a young daughter Cienna (7) and lived in Rubery. She is believed to have studied at Kings Norton High School.
She was a third-year student on the BSc (Hons) Social Work course at Birmingham City University and was in the final stages of her degree. BCU head of social work Bharat Chauhan said: “She had a bubbly, extrovert personality and had many friends at the university. Her wish was to support vulnerable people as a social worker and she was so near to fulfilling her ambition. She will be sadly missed by students and tutors.”
A carpet of flowers was left near where her body was found. A note attached to one tribute, left by friend Charlotte Hinde, said: “RIP beautiful Tia, taken from your loved ones way too soon. Your shining star will light the sky at night. Rest in paradise sweetheart.”
Dozens of messages were also left on Ms Kounota’s Facebook page and a second site devoted to her memory set up by a friend Amanda Smith. She wrote: “The amount of people asking to join (the page) and leave messages shows the impact you had on many lives. Rest easy Hun.”
Samantha Jane Kelly Young posted: “RIP, will always remember you driving round with your music blasting out. Thoughts are with your family, sleep tight.”
And Zoey Dovey added: “Tia we had some great times, honey. I will never forget how you came into my life, the impact you had and the joy and happiness you brought, as well as the laughter and beauty. Thank you for being you. A true angel stolen from us all, you may be gone but you’ll never be forgotten. RIP Angel ,you will live on in all of us that love you.
My thoughts and prayers are with the family right now.”
Ms Kounota had been staying with friend Meegan Nelson at her Halesowen home for six weeks before she died, while her daughter was being cared for by her grandmother in Oldbury.
Ms Nelson said: “She wanted to change the system. She talked about it with a passion because she’d seen people in difficult circumstances. Tia was an independent woman, very strong, a fabulous mother. She was beautiful inside and out. She had a massive heart but was a very strong girl.” She added: “Tia was incredibly loyal to her friends, but wouldn’t take any nonsense. She told it like it was. She was a people person, bubbly, smiling. Tia was one of my closest friends. I still expect her to walk through the door and shout, ‘hey girl’. I can see her now – very physical, lots of body language.I can imagine her walking through the door with her head in her hands, a ‘what have I done’ gesture. She was a legend who has left a massive hole in a lot of lives.”
Dinobewei was ordered by Judge James Burbidge QC to be kept in custody until his court hearing on 23rd October 2014. A provisional date of 12th January 2015 has been set for the start of the trial.
Detectives would like to hear from anyone who saw the pink Audi as it travelled from Rubery into Birmingham city centre and onto Erdington between 6.30pm and 8.30pm on 22nd July 2014. Anyone with information should call West Midlands Police CID on 101 or Crimestoppers, in confidence, on 0800 555 111.
Note: This report was drawn from reports in the Tyburn Mail and the Birmingham Mail.