Two ‘greedy’ lovers who plotted the murder of a ‘vulnerable’ man in order to profit financially from his death have been jailed for life.
Muhammed Arif, 45, bludgeoned father-of-two Mohammed Yousaf to death as he slept in bed in his rented flat in Accrington last year in a ‘brutal and cowardly’ act.
Arif, of Washington Street, Accrington had planned the murder with his lover, and Mr Yousaf’s new wife, Rukhsana Bibi, 38, of Wood Street, Todmorden, and together they had persuaded him to take out a life insurance policy worth £244,000 that would have benefited Bibi.
Both had denied the charge of murder but were unanimously found guilty by the jury at Preston Crown Court after a five week trial.
Mr Yousaf, 65, sustained 12 ‘significant lacerations’ to his head which were caused by ‘blunt force trauma’ and a craft knife stab wound to his neck in the attack, the court was told.
He had recently returned from a two-month trip to Pakistan but was found dead by his landlord at his home on Granville Street on the morning of September 21.
Sentencing Arif to 32 years and Bibi to 28 years in prison, Judge William Davis told the court the pair had 'shattered' the lives of three families.
He said: “By your cruel act three families have been destroyed.
"Mr Yousaf’s family has obviously been destroyed and there are now two disadvantaged adult children of his who have lost their father who quite clearly doted on him.
“And all, I am satisfied, because you were greedy, you found a vulnerable old man and over many months you planned to take the money that he had readily available and then engineered a position whereby he had life insurance on which you could claim when he died. Die, that is, at your hands.
“The two of you were people Mr Yousaf trusted.
"He could not have imagined the two of you were planning his death.
“This is a case of murder for monetary gain with many aggravating factors.
“Mr Arif you are the one who actually committed this brutal and cowardly act, bludgeoning an old man to death as he slept in his bed.”
With respect to Bibi, Judge William Davis told the court that he would make a reduction in her sentence as she was not the one who had committed ‘that bloody violence’ but that she had ‘engineered the situation’ so that it could come about.
Arif’s wife, Amna Arif, 43, also of Washington Street, earlier admitted at Preston Crown Court to conspiring to pervert the course of justice by giving false statements to the police about her husband’s whereabouts over the weekend of September 17 and 18 when the murder occurred.
She was sentenced to 15 months in prison, suspended for two years.
Following the sentencing 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.”