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Last Updated: Friday, 24 February 2006, 23:21 GMT
The Valentine's Day vanishing
By Chris Summers
BBC News Website

A man has been convicted of strangling his wife and dumping her body in the River Thames in a suitcase in the hope it would be swept away. Among the clues that led to his conviction was the discovery of two blank Valentine's Day cards.

Adeeba Ahmed
Ms Ahmed was last seen on Valentine's Day

Zaheer Ahmed, 28, from Langley, near Slough, Berkshire, walked into a police station on Valentine's Day 2004 and reported his wife, Adeeba, as missing.

Ahmed, who worked at Heathrow Airport, told police he had last seen the 27-year-old when he dropped her off at a hairdressing salon in Hounslow.

The case was originally dealt with by Thames Valley Police as a missing persons inquiry.

But two days later her body was found in a suitcase that washed up on the banks of the River Thames at Barnes, south-west London.

The Metropolitan Police took the inquiry over and began a murder hunt.

Blank Valentine's cards

Two Valentine's cards bought by Mrs Ahmed to give to her husband were found by police at their home. Both were blank.

The prosecution argued this was significant and suggested she had not filled them in because she was killed the night before Valentine's Day.

Mr Ahmed, a customer services assistant, and his wife, an airport check-in assistant, had appeared a devoted couple.

But the prosecution said that beneath the surface there were strains within the marriage. It said Mrs Ahmed had had trouble with her in-laws as they did not think she was good enough for their son.

The area where the body was found
The suitcase washed up at Barnes
When interviewed by murder squad detectives, Mr Ahmed said he had given his wife a lift into Hounslow on Valentine's Day so she could have her hair done before they went out for a romantic meal in the evening.

Checks at the town's 31 hairdressers found no record of an appointment for Mrs Ahmed and there was no CCTV footage of her husband's car in Hounslow.

Prosecutors pointed out that his DNA was found beneath his wife's fingernails, and that he had scratches on his neck.

Jonathan Laidlaw, prosecuting, said these had been caused in Mrs Ahmed's "desperate" attempt to stop her husband killing her.

Carpet fibres

On the night of the 13th, a neighbour had heard arguing from the Ahmeds' flat, the court heard.

"It was so loud, she had to turn up the television volume to drown the sound," Mr Laidlaw said.

The court also heard that forensic scientists had found 21 fibres on the outside of the suitcase which matched carpet and bedding at the couple's home.

Mr Laidlaw told the Old Bailey jury that forensic evidence "put the guilt of the defendant beyond any shadow of doubt".

"[Mrs Ahmed] was killed at home and put into the suitcase by the defendant.

"She had been killed at some point on the 13th and, under cover of darkness, [Ahmed] had driven it to Barnes where he threw it into the river."

Ahmed will be sentenced on Thursday when Judge Peter Rook will consider the minimum time he must serve before he can be considered for parole.

Man guilty of wife-in-case murder
24 Feb 06 |  Berkshire

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