Man jailed for murder of his wife

her body was discovered in a suitcase in Barnes in February 2004

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A man was jailed for 15 years for murder today after he was convicted at the Central Criminal Court of strangling his wife and dispensing of her body in a suitcase which he abandoned on the bank of the Thames.

Zaheer Ahmed, 29 years, a customer services employee, of Hurwood Avenue, Slough, concocted an elaborate story to explain the disappearance of his wife, Adeeba Ahmed (pictured below) who went missing on Valentine's Day 2004.

Her body was found two days a local man, out for a walk, became concerned about a suitcase on the shore Lonsdale Road at the junction with Nassau Road in Barnes. The black case, 3'x2'x1', was split along a seam and contained what appeared to be human remains.

Police recovered the suitcase and confirmed it contained the body of 27-year-old Adeeba, a check-in assistant at Terminal 3, Heathrow. Adeeba had been reported missing to Thames Valley Police on 14.2.04 and had not contacted friends or family or returned messages left on her mobile phone since then.

A post mortem at Kingston mortuary gave cause of death as manual strangulation.

Ahmed, who lived with his wife, said he last saw her when he dropped her off in Hounslow High Street, at the junction with Fairfield Road between 14:00-14:30. She had been planning to have her hair cut and go shopping, he said, before calling him to fetch her in their car. The couple were 'planning to go out for dinner that evening to celebrate Valentine's Day' according to Ahmed.

Detectives became suspicious when they were unable to find any evidence to support Ahmed's story. They examined 1000 hours worth of CCTV footage from businesses Adeeba would have passed on her way to the hairdressers and from outside the hairdressers shop. No trace of Adeeba was found.

Adeeba had not adhered to her personal routine on the day of her disappearance which also led police to suspect Zaheer. Before she went to bed Adeeba would soak some almonds overnight so she could eat them when she got up in the morning. She had soaked the almonds on Friday 13th Februarybut had not eaten them on the morning of the 14th. She had also bought a Valentine's card on the 13th, which was found unwritten on Valentine's Day.

Adeeba's body was found without jewellery and according to friends and family she never left the house without wearing jewellery, another fact that supported the theory that Adeeba never left her house on Saturday morning.

Following an examination of the suitcase, 27 different fibres sources were found which were traced back to five items at the couple's address, proving that the suitcase had been inside their house.

As a result of a joint operation between detectives from Thames Valley and from the Metropolitan Police, Zaheer was arrestedon the 18th February for the murder of his wife. Officers from the Met Police Specialist Crime Directorate later charged him on the 21st of the same month.

DI Hugh Borgeat, of the Specialist Crime Directorate West, said: "Not only have the Adeeba's family lost a loving daughter but they've had to endure fifteen months awaiting the result of this trial. Ahmed could have saved them this anguish by pleading guilty and allowing them to move on with their lives."

The original trial of Zaheer Ahmed on 14.6.05 went to a hung jury.

March 3, 2006