Man ‘killed wife when she appeared as evil apparition’

Rania Alayed
Rania Alayed
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A MAN killed his wife in self defence when she approached him in the form of an evil apparition, a jury has heard.

Ahmed Al-Khatib, 35, claims the djinn, an apparition in Muslim beliefs, then commanded him to bury her body.

Prosecutors say he murdered Rania Alayed, 25, at his brother’s flat in Salford and then began an elaborate deception to convince her family and friends that she was still alive.

The body of the Syrian-born mother-of-three has still not been found 10 months after her husband said he buried her between trees near to the A19 in Thirsk, North Yorkshire.

A jury at Manchester Crown Court was told that Al-Khatib was claiming a partial defence of diminished responsibility.

Tony Cross QC, prosecuting, said: “The defendant accepts he was responsible for the death of his wife Rania but he insists it was not his intention to harm his wife.

“He had been mentally unwell at that time with paranoia manifested in auditory and visual hallucinations, with a djinn - an evil apparition speaking to the defendant.

“Immediately prior to the death of his wife the defendant began to see his wife in the form of a djinn. This vision terrified him and advanced towards him.

“The defendant believed he was going to be killed and pushed her back. His wife struck her head against a mirror or a piece of furniture and she was rendered unconscious and then realised she was dead.

“The defendant will say he was acting in self defence in pushing his wife, the djinn, away. There had been several occasions when he had seen his wife as a djinn.

“He said he was commanded to bury her. He dug a grave between some trees and buried her not far from the dual carriageway.

“The prosecution do not accept that the defendant’s mental responsibility was diminished at all.”

He said that the defendant had been seen by a number of psychiatrists and reports were submitted about his behaviour.

A prosecution expert pointed out “concerns whether the actions of the defendant are simply being made up”, said Mr Cross.

At that point the defendant lunged forward from his seat in the dock and put his hands around the neck of an interpreter.

He had to be physically restrained by guards and the trial was temporarily halted until after lunch.

Yesterday on the opening day of the trial the proceedings were delayed when Al-Khatib began banging his head against the glass of the dock.

He is said to have lured his wife to her death on the pretence that his estranged wife would drop off their children at the home of his brother Muhaned Al-Khatib, 38, on June 7 last year to spend the weekend with him.

Her brother-in-law left the address with the children some 45 minutes later and shortly after her husband walked out wearing her clothing, including jeans and headscarf.

Ms Alayed’s body was in a suitcase which was later moved to Muhaned Al-Khatib’s motorhome that travelled towards the North East in the early hours of the next day.

The prosecution say the marriage was “marred by violence” from Ahmed Al-Khatib and that Ms Alayed had left him after years of serious domestic violence.

They had fled the Middle East to “a place of safety” in England and settled in the Middlesbrough area before moving to Manchester in 2009.

She feared for her life and had sought help from the Citizens Advice Bureau, the police and eventually a solicitor which had angered her husband’s family, the court heard.

Ahmed Al-Khatib, from Knutsford Road, Gorton, and Muhaned Al-Khatib, of Arthur Millwood Court, Salford, both deny murder but pleaded guilty to intending to pervert the course of justice by transporting and concealing the body of Ms Alayed.

A third brother, Hussain Al-Khatib, 34, of Knutsford Road, Gorton, denies the latter charge.

Earlier the jury was told that telephone, Facebook and message services were deployed to pretend to others that Ms Alayed was still alive, the court heard.

Mr Cross said: “They did not though fool Rania Alayed’s real friends. They slipped into using language she would never have used and they became suspicious.”

One particular “callous and calculating” ruse was devised to make it appear as if the mother-of-three was in Turkey.

Muhaned Al-Khatib was said to have persuaded a friend to forward a text message to the victim’s father when she visited the country.

It read: “My beloved father, I know you are upset by me.

“I am in Turkey. I have been here a few days.

“Ahmed has divorced me and I am going to remarry someone.

“I know you are upset with me but I am sorry.”

Ahmed Al-Khatib was arrested on July 4 and made no complaint of any mental illness, the court heard.

He told police the relationship had been trouble free until January last year when his wife rang police about a row when he had taken her phone.

He said he had seen pictures of his wife in underwear.

Detectives were told he had not seen her since April and he had tried to contact her 30 times but believed her to be in Turkey or Syria.

Mr Cross told the jury: “Quite plainly, ladies and gentlemen, the majority of these facts were lies. He knew full well. He had killed her.”

The next day Muhaned Al-Khatib told police that Ms Alayed was not alive and she was buried at the side of a layby on the A19.

He denied helping his brother to bury her or murder her and said he had not seen her body.The court heard he agreed to show police where her grave was but the location could not be found.

Mr Cross said DNA from the third defendant, Hussain Al-Khatib, was linked to a pair of scissors found in the motorhome - said to have been used to cut up the suitcase.The trial is estimated to last up to five weeks.