Muhammed Arif, 45, of Washington Street, Accrington, and Rukhsana Bibi, 38, of Wood Street, Todmorden, have both been sentenced today (Monday) at Preston Crown Court for their parts in the killing of 65-year-old Mohammed Yousaf.
Mr Yousaf is believed to have been murdered on September 18, 2016, at his home on Granville Road, although his body was not discovered until September 21.
He had suffered catastrophic head injuries and a slashed throat, believed to have been inflicted while he slept.
His death followed months of planning by Arif and Bibi.
Arif – married but having a secret relationship with Bibi at the time – colluded with Bibi to exploit Mr Yousaf for financial gain. He and Bibi – who herself was married to Arif’s brother - then set their plan in motion.
In March 2016 Mr Yousaf met with a conveyancing solicitor to sign a house he owned on Craven Street, Accrington, into Arif’s brother’s name. He was accompanied to the appointment by Arif.
In April 2016 Bibi divorced her then-husband and two days later married Mr Yousaf. Mr Yousaf later reported to a social worker that the marriage had been Arif’s idea.
During the course of Mr Yousaf and Bibi’s relationship more than £24,000 left Mr Yousaf’s savings account. Around £22,000 was found by detectives at Arif’s home following Mr Yousaf’s death.
In July 2016 Bibi and Arif took out a fraudulent life insurance policy in Mr Yousaf’s name – he was out of the country when he supposedly activated the policy at a bank in Accrington – which would benefit Bibi to the tune of £244,000 upon his death.
Mr Yousaf and Arif later visited a solicitor, where Mr Yousaf drew up a will leaving everything he owned to Bibi.
On September 17, 2016, Mr Yousaf returned to Accrington following an extended trip to Pakistan. That night was the only full night he ever spent at the rented property on Granville Road.
On the evening of September 18 Mr Yousaf was home alone as Bibi had gone to Ireland with his two grown-up children. However, CCTV from a nearby pub shows Arif’s Volkswagen Passat driving to and from Granville Road three times between 4.54pm and 10.15pm.
It is believed the murder was carried out sometime that evening.
Mr Yousaf’s body was found three days later by his landlord. He had suffered more than a dozen blows to the head and a slash wound to his throat.
A murder investigation was launched and, although no murder weapons have ever been found, enquiries quickly led officers to Arif and Bibi.
Analysis of DNA evidence found at the scene and in Arif’s car, as well as analysis of mobile phones, CCTV footage, traffic cameras and financial transactions carried out by the defendants built up a picture of Bibi and Arif being in collusion to manipulate and strip Mr Yousaf of his assets, before killing him to benefit from his life insurance policy and will.
The officers in the case also interviewed dozens upon dozens of witnesses, including several in Pakistan.
Both Arif and Bibi had denied the charges but were found guilty following a trial.
Arif was sentenced to 32 years for murder and Bibi was sentenced to 28 years for murder.
A third person, Amna Khatoon Arif, 44, of Washington Street, Accrington, was sentenced to 15 months in prison, suspended for two years, for perverting the course of justice, after providing a false alibi for Arif for the night of the murder.
Following the verdicts DCI Joanne McHugh, from the Force Major Investigation Team, said: “This murder was ruthlessly planned by Arif and Bibi, who manipulated a vulnerable and gentle member of the community, before taking everything they possibly could from him for their own financial gain.
“Mohammed Yousaf’s death is nothing short of the cold-blooded assassination of a wholly innocent man.
“While it may have been Arif who carried out the actual killing, there can be no doubt that Bibi was just as involved in the planning and is as culpable as he is.
“I am satisfied with the verdicts and would like to thank the jury for carefully considering all the facts and coming to the conclusion they did.
“Our thoughts at this time remain with the family and friends of Mr Yousaf and I hope eventually they will be able to take some comfort from the sentences handed down today.”