Six members of family jailed for more than 56 years following death of teenager - Watford

21/12/2015

Six members of the same family appeared at St Albans Crown Court today, Monday, 21 December 2015, and were jailed for a combined total of 56-and-a-half years after being found guilty of offences following the death of 19-year-old Shahena Uddin in Watford in October last year.

Shahena died after receiving a severe beating in the family home in Leavesden Road, Watford on the night of 10 October 2014.

Her family called an ambulance after they discovered her lying on the bathroom floor on the morning of 11 October 2014, and told paramedics she had not felt well and had collapsed.  Upon arrival, medics noticed severe bruising on several parts of Shahenas body and called the police.

During the course of the trial the court heard how Shahena suffered severe mental and physical abuse over a prolonged period of time at the hands of her family.

Following a 10-week trial, a jury at St Albans Crown Court returned guilty verdicts for six members of Shaheena's family.  The offences they were found guilty of and their subsequent sentences are as follows:

Salma Begum, aged 33, of Middle Ope, Watford (Shahena's sister - in law) was found guilty of murder and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.  She was sentenced to life imprisonment and is to serve a minimum of 18 years.

Suhail Uddin, aged 35, of Leavesden Road, Watford (Shahena's brother and husband of Salma Begum) was found guilty of causing or allowing the death of a vulnerable adult and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.  He was found not guilty of murder and an alternative count of manslaughter.  He was sentenced to seven years imprisonment for causing or allowing the death of a vulnerable adult and three years imprisonment for conspiring to pervert the course of justice, to be served consecutively, totalling 10 years imprisonment.

Rehena Uddin, aged 22, of Middle Ope, Watford (Shahena's sister) was found guilty of causing or allowing the death of a vulnerable adult and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.  She was sentenced to three years imprisonment for causing or allowing the death of a vulnerable adult and two years imprisonment for conspiring to pervert the course of justice to be served consecutively, totalling five years imprisonment.

Jhuhal Uddin, aged 33, of Grove Road, Watford (Shahena's brother) was found guilty of causing or allowing the death of a vulnerable adult and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.  He was sentenced to six years imprisonment for causing or allowing the death of a vulnerable adult and three years imprisonment for conspiring to pervert the course of justice, to be served consecutively, totalling nine years imprisonment.

Tohel Uddin, aged 24, of Middle Ope, Watford (Shaehena's brother) was found guilty of causing or allowing the death of a vulnerable adult and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.  He was sentenced to four years  imprisonment for causing or allowing the death of a vulnerable adult and two-and-a-half years imprisonment for conspiring to pervert the course of justice, to be served consecutively, totalling six-and-a-half years imprisonment.

Jewel Uddin, aged 27, of Middle Ope, Watford (Shahena's brother) was found guilty of causing or allowing the death of a vulnerable adult and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.  He was  sentenced to five years imprisonment for causing or allowing the death of a vulnerable adult and three years imprisonment for conspiring to pervert the course of justice, to be served consecutively, totalling eight years imprisonment.

Adrian Foster, Chief Crown Prosecutor for Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said: "This case involved the tragic murder of 19-year-old Shahena Uddin at her home in Leavesden Road, Watford last October.

"Shahena was a vulnerable adult, who was subjected to a regime of physical and mental brutality at the hands of family members, predominantly, but not exclusively, her eldest brother and head of the household, Suhail Uddin, and his wife, Salma Begum.  Her other three older brothers; Jhuhal Uddin, Jewel Uddin and Tohel Uddin and older sister, Rehena Uddin, were either parties to or aware of these beatings and did nothing to stop the abuse or protect her.  The prosecution case was that Shahena was beaten to death, with weapons, including a glow stick and mop, at her family home on the evening of 10 October 2014, by members of the family and all of them conspired together to impede the police investigation by concealing evidence before the emergency services were called the following morning.

"The motive for the attack remains a mystery, but what is known is that this was a troubled family unit held together by control and internal discipline of an extreme variety.  Punishments, including beatings, being made to drink toilet water, being made to stand for long periods looking into the toilet bowl and being denied water for prolonged periods, for minor misdemeanours, such as not eating at the correct speed, were commonplace.  Shahena was not allowed to have friends, a mobile phone or access to social media and as the most outspoken of all the siblings was apparently the primary target for the majority of the chastisement.

"All six relatives denied their involvement in Shahena's death, but a jury found Salma Begum guilty of her murder and her other four brothers and sister guilty of causing/allowing the death of a vulnerable adult and all six of them guilty of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, after a 10-week trial, despite their denials.

"We have worked closely with the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit since this investigation was launched and as a result of the hard work and diligence of the prosecution team, and the strength and bravery of the witnesses, who came forward and gave evidence in very difficult circumstances, a just outcome has been achieved.  We know that nothing will bring Shahena back to those who knew and loved her, but we hope that the convictions and today's sentences bring them at least a small sense that justice has been done. Our thoughts are very much with them at this time."

Passing sentence Mr Justice Spencer told the family: "Shahena died on her own in circumstances which none of you have had the humanity and common decency to explain. I am quite sure that all of you know the true circumstances in which she died. The steadfast refusal of all of you to reveal those circumstances is a shocking, selfish and disgraceful perversion of family loyalty which dishonours the memory of your dead sister."

Detective Inspector Fraser Wylie from the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit, said: "Firstly, in all my years as a detective, this case has been possibly one of the most harrowing cases of domestic abuse I have dealt with. How any person can inflict such violence and mental abuse on someone is beyond comprehension - and even more so when those inflicting that abuse are members of a family who were supposed to have a duty of care.

"Shahena Uddin suffered unimaginable abuse both physically and mentally which was tantamount to torture. What she was subjected to - being denied water, being made to drink toilet water and being forced to eat her own faeces - are just a few of the extremely disturbing 'punishments' her family inflicted on her, isolating her and making her life agony.

"The letters read out in court paint a picture of a young woman who was trapped in a life of unbearable misery.

"To think that a young woman in Watford in the 21st century was subjected to such cruelty in a place where she was supposed to feel safe and loved is incomprehensible an there are no words to fully portray the inhumane cruelty she was subjected to. Shahena's death must not be in vain.

"The sentence passed today on these individuals - the people who were supposed to love and care for Shahena - reflects the law's view on such actions. I would firstly like to thank the significant witnesses in this case who have shown immense determination and courage throughout this trial.

"I would also like to thank the police officers and staff who have worked tirelessly to get this case to court, and to the Crown Prosecution Service, counsel and court staff who have all shown such tenacity throughout this case.

"As a society, and in honour of Shahena's memory, the best tribute we can all give her is to prevent this from happening again. We all have a duty of care to each other and prevent people from such suffering. If you are being subjected to Domestic Abuse, or you know someone who is, please speak out - there is help available."

Chief Inspector Dave Wheatley from Watford Community Safety Partnership, said: "I would like to reassure the people of Watford following the harrowing details that have emerged during the trial following the murder of Shahena Uddin. This was not a case about culture or religion, this is first and foremost a case about domestic abuse - at its worst. We have all been horrified by some of the evidence that has emerged during this trial and as a community we are all shocked by the fact that this ever happened and that it occurred in our town behind closed doors in 2014.

"If there is anything that must be learned from this extremely tragic case, it is this - we all have a duty of care to protect each other; if you or anyone you know is suffering from domestic abuse, please speak out. You can contact the police on 101 or the Sunflower centre and you will be believed and you will be supported. Help is out there - please make that call."