Privately-educated student and former takeaway worker Danish Irfan showed no emotion as a judge told him today that he must stay behind bars for a least 15 years before he could be considered for release following the brutal murder of 21-year-old mum Ridda Zanab at their Bradford home last November.
Irfan, who had no previous convictions, struck his wife at least 10 times with the hammer while she lay defenceless on a bed.
A court heard how the force of the blows forced fragments of bone into her brain and the young mum was left “unrecognisable”.
Sentencing Irfan the Honourable Mr Justice Stuart-Smith said it had been a terrible and brutal assault adding:”Ridda survived for some minutes after the attack. We can only hope that her suffering was short.”
Irfan, whose wife had given birth to their daughter just a few months before her shocking murder, used a fake passport to flee the country after the killing, but he came back to the United Kingdom and surrendered himself to police in February.
During his trial at Bradford Crown Court Irfan, 22, admitted the manslaughter of his wife, but he denied murder on the grounds that he had suffered a “lost of control” during a heated row over the text message.
But after just two hours of deliberation the jury found him guilty on the murder allegation and today/yesterday Mr Justice Stuart-Smith described the couple as “completely incompatible as partners” due to the differences in their lifestyles and cultural expectations.
The jury heard how the couple met and married in Huddersfield while Irfan, who had obtained a two-year student visa to come to the UK, was studying a business management course in Manchester.
Mrs Zanab, who was born in Bradford, was said to have had a ‘rebellious streak’ with a Westernised outlook on life and Mr Justice Stuart-Smith said the pair should never have become husband and wife.
“Your expectations about how a wife should behave were expectations that Ridda could never meet,” he told Irfan, who had previously lived in Great Northern Street, Huddersfield, before the couple moved to a new home in Alford Terrace, Bradford last year.
“I accept the general thrust of your evidence, which is supported by other evidence in the case, that 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.
“If you knew anything at all about her before your married you would have realised that and it shows a staggering naivety on your part that you thought she would change.”
The court heard that the marriage turned sour within weeks and Irfan suspected that his wife was seeing other men.
Last November Irfan found the fatal text message on his wife’s mobile phone while she slept and it confirmed his suspicions that she was cheating on him.
“I am not sure whether, as you say, you woke her and had an argument or whether the texts alone triggered the attack, but whichever is the truth two things are clear,” said the judge.
“By the time you attacked her you were in no doubt that she was in a sexual relationship with someone else and even if there was an argument she never moved from where she was lying on her bed.”
The judge said the murderous attack had had a terrible impact on the deceased’s family and the couple’s daughter Aleena.
“I have read and take fully into account a moving statement on behalf of the whole family which speaks eloquently of the gaping hole that Ridda’s death has left behind. It can never be filled.”
The judge told Irfan that he had shown real remorse and a degree of courage in returning to face the music when he could have continued to cower in Pakistan.
In the family’s victim impact statement Ridda’s sister Saima Parveen described her as “one in a million” and said the family could not believe that she had left them in such dreadful circumstances.
“She was such a fun, loving, caring person that did anything for anyone without even being asked,” she stated.
“She was always happy and loved life and all she wanted to do was to live her life for her family and friends.
“She just wanted to be happy and did what she wanted as any young female would do in the UK.
“She was the life and soul of our family and there is a massive hole in out family that will never be replaced.
“We often talk as a family about how we are all going to explain everything to Ridda’s daughter Aleena in a few years. We can’t even imagine what we will say and will never be ready for the questions that she may want answering.
“We are so happy she is a girl as it’s a constant reminder for us and she is a piece of Ridda for our family to treasure for the rest of our lives.
“Aleena has the same eyes as her mum and the same lovely smile of her mum.”