UPDATED: Husband jailed for life after murdering wife, 21, with claw hammer in fit of rage

UPDATED: Husband jailed for life after murdering wife, 21, with claw hammer in fit of rage

Ridda Zanab

Danish Irfan

First published in News
Last updated

A JEALOUS husband who shattered his wife's skull with a claw hammer in a fit of rage after discovering she loved another man must spend more than 15 years behind bars.

Danish Irfan, 22, was yesterday afternoon sentenced to life imprisonment for the "repeated and ferocious" attack on Ridda Zanab as she lay defenceless in bed at their home in Alford Terrace, Lidget Green, Bradford, on November 3 last year.

He must serve a minimum term of 16 years behind bars, less time spent in custody on remand, after the jury at Bradford Crown Court unanimously convicted him of murder.

Irfan admitted manslaughter before the start of the trial but the jury rejected his defence of loss of control.

Mr Justice Stuart-Smith said Irfan struck Ridda, 21, at least ten forceful blows with the hammer, leaving her unrecognisable.

"This was a terrible and brutal assault. Ridda survived for some minutes after the attack: we can only hope that her suffering was short," he said.

Irfan stood impassively in the dock, wearing a blue jumper and flanked by an Urdu interpreter and two security officers.

Mr Justice Stuart-Smith told him he believed Ridda was in a sexual relationship with someone else.

Irfan was looking after their baby daughter and doing DIY work at home. He had the hammer in his hand when he read the text his wife had sent to another man, stating: "I love you, mwahhh, good night."

The judge said the couple's short marriage was "disastrous", with differences in lifestyles and cultural expectations leading to frequent, heated arguments.

During the trial, Irfan said his wife often stayed out very late and came home smelling of cannabis and alcohol.

"She was simply not a person who would be a stay-at-home wife, whose entire existence was governed by deference to, and respect for, her husband. That was because she was the person she was; and that was a person she was fully entitled to be," the judge said.

Irfan told Ridda he wanted a divorce just months into the marriage but did nothing about it.

The insults they traded would have been particularly hurtful for someone steeped in Islamic culture.

But Irfan gave as good as he got in their frequent rows.

Mr Justice Stuart-Smith said the murder was not premeditated and Irfan had shown remorse and some courage in voluntarily returning to the UK "to face the music" after fleeing to Pakistan on a false passport.

'Ridda was the life and soul of our family' says murder victim's sister

But it was "a sustained and brutal attack over a number of minutes upon a woman who was lying defenceless in her bed."

Speaking after sentencing, Detective Superintendent Mark Ridley, of West Yorkshire Police's Protective Services Department, said: "Irfan brutally murdered his wife in the family home in Bradford and then fled to Pakistan in a bid to evade capture.

"Following work with the international authorities, we were able to secure his voluntary return to the country to face justice.

"Our sympathies remain with Ridda's family and especially her young daughter, who will sadly grow up without her mother."

MARRIAGE WAS 'DISASTROUS', SAID JUDGE

The marriage between Danish Irfan, the "socially immature" son of a Pakistani businessman, and pretty, lively Ridda Zanab, was a disaster almost from the start.

Ridda, who was only 19, was born in Bradford and had a "Westernised" approach to life.

She was said to have "a rebellious streak" and she enjoyed nights out with her friends.

Irfan, who was just a year older, was quiet, shy and softly spoken.

He was brought up in an Islamic culture and expected to enter into an arranged marriage.

His parents live in an eight bedroom house with staff and he was privately educated.

Irfan studied information and commerce before coming to the UK in 2011 to continue his education at a private college.

It was while sharing a house that he met Ridda, in May, 2012.

He said she proposed to him within days and they married in a Muslim ceremony on August 30, 2012, followed by a civil ceremony three months later.

Soon afterwards, the marriage turned sour.

Irfan said Ridda called him "slow" and "handicapped".

She came home smelling of cannabis and alcohol and, on one occasion, pulled down his trousers and underwear in front of friends, exposing his naked body.

"In our culture a woman should respect her husband," he said. "She made me feel like I was nothing."

The judge told Irfan: "Because of your youth, culture and naivety you were quite unable to understand or cope with the stresses that came from your disastrous marriage, either by walking away or resolving them in some other way."

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