IT was Shafilea Ahmed’s younger sister Alesha who provided police with the “final piece of the puzzle” about her murder and led to her parents conviction.
Alesha, 23, disclosed she witnessed the murder to her solicitor and a police officer while she was in custody in 2010 after arranging a robbery at the family home in Liverpool Road, Warrington.
She told the trial she decided to come forward seven years after the murder because she “had to let it out”.
“It has been haunting me for a long time,” she added.
Crying in the witness box, Alesha told the trial her parents held a terrified Shafilea down on the settee in their living room as a plastic bag was forced into her mouth and their hands covered her face.
“You could tell she was gasping for air,” she said before adding that Shafilea “wet herself because she was struggling so much”.
Asked what happened next, she told the court: “That was it, she was gone.”
The other children ran upstairs while she was stood frozen in shock, before joining them in an upstairs bedroom. At one point she came out to look into the living room and saw her sister’s body. Her parents were sorting through sheets, bin bags and tape they had taken from the garage.
Ms Ahmed described looking out of the window and seeing her father carrying something which appeared to be wrapped up, and assumed it was her sister’s body.
The children were later told to say nothing or they would suffer the same fate as Shafilea.
Following her confession, Alesha’s story was supported by writings her younger sister Mevish had given to a friend in 2008, which only emerged shortly after the trial began.
Mevish, who supported her parents’ defence, insisted the writings were a “fiction” but her friend, Shahin Munir, took to the stand to deliver chilling corroboration from her own diaries.
Paul Whittaker, Chief Crown Prosecutor of CPS Mersey-Cheshire, said: “The statement of Alesha Ahmed, Shafilea’s younger sister, was crucial to our case and today’s result is a testament to her courage over the last two years.
“To convict perpetrators such as the Ahmeds, we need victims and other family members to break ranks and give evidence.
“The word shame has been heard many times during the course of this trial, but the shame is not on Shafilea, it is on her parents.”