Defenceless young mother murdered by "possessive" husband, jury told

Danish Irfan

Ridda Zanab

First published in News
Last updated

A YOUNG mother was murdered by her "possessive and controlling" husband when he swung a hammer at least ten times at her head while she lay defenceless in bed, a jury was told.

Danish Irfan fled the country on a false passport after killing Ridda Zanab at their home in Alford Terrace, Lidget Green, Bradford, on November 3 last year.

Bradford Crown Court heard that Irfan, 22, remained in Pakistan until he told the authorities he was returning to the UK. He was arrested at Heathrow Airport on February 22.

Irfan has pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Mrs Zanab, 21, but denies her murder.

Prosecutor Jonathan Sharp told the court yesterday that Irfan killed his wife after discovering a text message she had sent to another man, saying: "I love you, mwahhh, good night."

Mr Sharp said it would not be disputed that Irfan killed his wife.

The jury would have to consider why he did it, what was acting on his mind at the time.

The court heard that Irfan and his wife were very different people, from very different backgrounds.

Mrs Zanab was Bradford born and had a Westernised outlook on life. She liked a night out and had a serious boyfriend before her marriage to Irfan in 2012.

Irfan came to the UK on a student visa in 2011.

The couple kept their relationship partly secret and family members did not attend their wedding.

In December, 2012, Ridda was taken to hospital with red marks on her neck and Irfan admitted he had tried to smother her with a pillow and strangle her, the court heard.

It is alleged he was possessive and controlling and did not like his wife seeing her friends.

When she became pregnant, the couple moved to Alford Terrace to be near her family home in Legrams Lane.

Mr Sharp said that after the birth of their daughter in September last year, Irfan became more jealous and it was suggested he was tracking her on his iPhone.

During Eid, Ridda and her two sisters went out for several nights, coming home very late.

She was spending a lot of time with a close friend known as Rob, the jury was told.

On the day she was killed, Ridda came home at 4.42am. She had sent the text message to Rob shortly after midnight.

Mr Sharp said some time that morning, Irfan read it.

"The defendant came into the bedroom, he was holding a hammer. He repeatedly struck her to the head, swinging at least ten hard blows down on her skull," he told the court.

It was a sustained attack that began suddenly and unexpectedly, giving Mrs Zanab little or no opportunity to defend herself.

Mr Sharp said she died in minutes from massive brain damage.

Irfan went to London where he obtained a false passport and made good his escape on a flight from Heathrow to Islamabad.

He told a friend before he left the country that he had killed his wife. Police broke down the door of their Bradford home on the afternoon of November 4 and found Mrs Zanab's body.

Mrs Zanab's sister, Saima Parveen, told the jury she was jolly, full of laughter, and independent.

She seemed happy with Irfan, who worked in a takeaway, but then she saw her crying in hospital in December, 2012.

Her sister told her: "Danish tried to strangle me," she said.

Mrs Parveen said her sister was terrified and had red marks on both sides of her neck.

"I was really angry," she said. "I said 'What on earth have you done to her?"

Mrs Parveen said Irfan replied: "She makes me really angry."

Mrs Zanab's mother, Nazeem Shah, said she refused to see her daughter after she married a man the family did not know.

Ridda lied to her that she was suffering with cancer to persuade her to meet up again.

Mrs Shah said she heard a loud bang on one occasion when she was on the phone to her daughter.

She took a taxi to the house and Ridda told her Irfan had smashed the TV set up with a hammer.

Mrs Shah said it was in pieces.

The trial continues.

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