A 'defenceless' man was brutally murdered as he slept so his new wife and her ‘lover’ could ‘take him for every penny he had’, it was claimed in court.
Mohammed Yousaf, 65, was found bludgeoned to death in bed at a rented flat on Granville Road in Accrington on September 21 last year, the hearing was told.
The father-of-two, who had suspected learning difficulties, had suffered 12 ‘significant lacerations’ to his head which were caused by ‘blunt forced trauma’ and a craft knife stab wound to his neck, Preston Crown Court heard.
Muhammed Arif, 45, of Washington Street, Accrington, and Rukhsana Bibi, 38, of Wood Street, Todmorden, are standing trial at Preston Crown Court accused of his murder. Both deny the charge and the claims made against them.
Gordon Cole QC, prosecuting, told the jury that they had planned Mr Yousaf’s killing ‘for monetary gain’ and that ‘throughout all the relevant time they were in a relationship despite being married to different people’.
Amna Arif, also of Washington Street, and the wife of Mr Arif, is charged with perverting the course of justice by giving a false statement in a murder investigation. She denies the charge.
Mr Cole QC said: “This killing was all about money. [Mr Yousaf] was the victim of very colourful, ruthless behaviour at the hands of these defendants who took him for every penny he had.
“The prosecution case is that Mr Arif has inveigled his way into Mr Yousaf’s domestic and financial arrangements using his girlfriend Rukhsana Bibi, with whom we say Mr Arif was having a sexual affair.”
The court heard that Mr Yousaf had been ‘repeatedly hit over the head with an instrument such as a hammer’ and that the ‘substantive lacerations had been delivered using severe force’.
A Home Office post mortem examination determined that there was a ‘realistic prospect that Mr Yousaf was asleep when he was first hit over the head’ and the court heard that there was no evidence of any defensive injuries.
It is also believed that he remained alive for up to two hours after being injured. The jury was told that Mr Yousaf was found dead at 8.40am on September 21 last year by his landlord, but that his death could have happened three days earlier.
In the days before his death Mr Yousaf had returned to the UK from a two-month trip to Pakistan and was collected at the airport by Mr Arif, the hearing was told.
Mr Cole QC said while Mr Yousaf was away from the UK a £244,000 life insurance policy was taken out in his name and ‘activated’ with Mr Arif allegedly ‘pretending’ to be Mr Yousaf - who was illiterate.
The court heard that Mrs Bibi, who married Mr Yousaf in April 2016, would have ‘benefitted’ from the policy along with his will. The jury was told that from March 2016 Mr Yousaf had also begun making a ‘significant number of large withdrawals’ from his bank account, which was ‘unusual’, and that it had ‘almost wiped out his savings’.
Mr Cole QC claimed that Mr Yousaf was giving this money to Mr Arif.
In March 2016 Mr Yousaf’s home on Craven Street had also been transferred to Mrs Bibi’s ex-husband as a ‘deed of gift’ which was witnessed by Mr Arif, the prosecution claimed.
Two days before Mr Yousaf was due to return to the UK, Mrs Bibi travelled to Ireland with his children.
Mr Cole QC said she made three calls to the Granville Road landlord, the first asking him not to go round and collect the rent on September 19.
She then made two calls on September 20 stating that she had been unable to contact her husband, it was claimed.
The court heard that when the landlord went round on September 21 and found Mr Yousaf’s body the flat door was unlocked and there was no sign of a forced entry.
Mr Cole QC said when Mr Arif was initially questioned he provided ‘different’ accounts which were ‘inconsistent’ with CCTV footage.
An examination of his Volkswagen Passat found Mr Yousaf’s blood on the driver’s seat back rest, which Mr Arif claimed was a result of his coughing as a result of asthma, the court heard.
Mr Arif later admitted being on Granville Road for nearly two hours on September 18, but could offer ‘no adequate explanation’, the hearing was told. Officers also found ‘substantial’ mobile phone contact between Mr Arif and Mrs Bibi in the months leading up to Mr Yousaf’s death, the prosecution said. Prosecutors said Mr Arif’s phone was switched off at the time when they claim he murdered Mr Yousaf.
The hearing was told that a search of Mrs Bibi’s home found the life insurance offer and a document that ‘appeared to contain practice signatures in Mr Yousaf’s name’.
Mr Arif’s home contained Mr Yousaf’s will, a divorce document and £25,000 in cash, the hearing was told.
When Mrs Bibi was arrested she denied committing any offences but ‘mainly answered no comment’, the prosecution said.
The court was told that Mrs Arif, 43, provided a statement to the police detailing her husband’s whereabouts over the weekend of September 17/18.
She told officers that he ‘never spent a night away’ and ‘didn’t go out at any time’, it was claimed.
However, Mr Cole QC told the jury that CCTV analysis from the area showed Mr Arif making a ‘number of journeys’ and that he had ‘been to the scene of the murder’.
When Mrs Arif was questioned and challenged again she ‘became vague and said she didn’t know where her husband might have gone or what he had done’, the hearing was told.