A Leeds Crown Court jury unanimously convicted Akshar Ali, 27, and Yasmin Ahmed, also 27, of murdering 26-year-old mother-of-four Sinead Wooding at Ahmed’s home in Reginald Mount, Potternewton, Leeds, before disposing of her body in woods near a lane in Alwoodley.
Ali and Ahmed were this morning jailed for life and told they will each serve a minimum of 22 years before they can be considered for parole.
Vicky Briggs, 25, of Throstle Road, Middleton, who was found guilty of assisting an offender by helping clean up and burn material after the murder in May 2017, was jailed for four years.The murder trial jury was told Miss Wooding and husband Akshar Ali had argued after drinking at Ali’s accomplice Yasmin Ahmed’s home on Reginald Mount, Potternewton while Miss Wooding's four children were at the house.
Jailing Ali and Ahmed for life, Mr Justice Langstaff, said: "Akshar Ali, you and your wife were on the point of separating. Your relationship was volatile. Both of you were from time to time guilty of violence towards each other.
"You were, in my view more violent towards her than she was towards you. You could be violent when sober whilst she was aggressive while in drink.
"On the evening of the night she died, you plied her with drink, I suspect deliberately. She became intoxicated.. Just after 9pm you began arguing, probably about what would happen to your children when you separated, and you moved into the kitchen at Reginald Mount."
Mr Justice Langstaff added: "At some stage during the course of that argument, those in the living room heard a bang. "In my view, the prosecution was right to invite the jury to infer that it was the dropping of a hatch to the cellar. "In some way, you had managed to place Miss Wooding in the cellar, she was alive at this stage. "You left shortly afterwards but you came back intending to kill Miss Wooding. You formed that intention it seems to me about the time you put the deceased into the cellar. "You orchestrated an operation to hide the fact the killing had been done. A process of cleansing the cellar began. "It's rightful said that Ali was the instigator, that he must have struck the first blow. "The number of blows and number of wounds indicate that it was a clear determined attempt to kill. "It seems to me the deceased died, in my view, suffering seriously awaiting death. It was a sustained attack over a short period of time. "The motives are obscure but it's probably far less a motive in your case Ahmed than was the case of Ali. "There is no evidence of any serious hostility between you and the victim."
Miss Wooding was stabbed several times and struck repeatedly about the head.
A Home Office pathologist concluded several skull fractures were caused by at least one claw hammer.
The murder trial jury was told Miss Wooding’s body was kept in the cellar at Ahmed’s home for two days before being transported to woodland near a lane in Alwoodley, north Leeds, where it was set on fire.
The body had been wrapped in a duvet and trussed up with wire before being doused with petrol.
The smouldering remains were discovered on Stairfoot Lane at about 9am on Sunday 14 May by students out for a run in the area.The jury had heard mother-of-four Miss Wooding suspected her husband and Yasmin Ahmed had been involved in a sexual relationship, but both denied having an affair.
A spokesman for the Crown Prosecution Service, said after the sentencing hearing: "Akshar Ali was Sinead Wooding’s partner, but their relationship was coming to an end in early May 2017. On 11 May the couple were at Yasmin Ahmed’s house. An argument ensued between the couple. Sinead Wooding never left the property alive.
"An examination of blood found in the cellar at that address, taken together with other evidence, was to reveal that she had been murdered in that location on Thursday night, 11 May. Her body was stored there for over two days.
"The defendants Ali and Ahmed engaged in a substantial operation to cover up the murder, including cleaning the cellar and moving and attempting to destroy the body. Sinead’s partially burned body was discovered in woodland to the north of Leeds on the third day after the murder.
"Vicky Briggs was Ahmed’s housemate: she assisted in the cleaning of the scene of the murder in the cellar and in the destruction of blood-stained clothing from the murder on a bonfire.
Prosecutor Duncan Ritchie, said: “Sinead Wooding was killed with brutal ferocity. Calculated plans were made to destroy the evidence of this dreadful crime, and her body was stored for over two days in a cellar before being transported in a borrowed vehicle under cover of darkness to Adel Woods, near Leeds. There it was partially destroyed by fire.
“Forensic scientists discovered blood staining in the cellar of Yasmin Ahmed’s house: the blood bore the DNA of Sinead Wooding. Analysis of the blood spatter patterns indicated that Sinead Wooding had been killed in a ferocious attack involving at least two weapons.
“Although the injuries revealed that they were most likely a hammer and a knife, the actual weapons have never been identified. Once the murder had taken place, Ali and Ahmed attempted to cover up their crime by sending each other a series of false text messages, pretending that Sinead Wooding had left the house unharmed.
“In court the CPS was able to show that the couple’s relationship had been volatile and that Akshar Ali had been violent and controlling towards Sinead Wooding.
“This violence reached its brutal climax on the night of 11 May, when Sinead was murdered. We hope that the verdicts reached in this case are of some comfort to Sinead’s family and friends.”