Page last updated at 17:40 GMT, Friday, 1 May 2009 18:40 UK

Husband guilty of murdering wife

Cassandra Hasanovic
Cassandra Hasanovic was going to a refuge when she was killed

A 34-year-old Kent man has been found guilty of killing his estranged wife in front of her children and mother.

Serbia-born Hajrudin Hasanovic, of Guston, near Dover, was jailed for life for murdering Cassandra Hasanovic, 24, in Bognor Regis, West Sussex.

He had denied murder but had admitted manslaughter on grounds of diminished responsibility.

Judge Richard Brown at Lewes Crown Court told him he would have to serve a minimum of 18 years in jail.

During Hasanovic's two-week trial, jurors had heard how he attacked his estranged wife after losing a custody battle for their two young sons, now aged five and three, and was being deported.

'Horrendous act'

The court heard she had voiced repeated fears to police and her family about a catalogue of threats and abuse she had suffered during their five-year marriage.

Hasanovic, of Prescott Close, was described as a "paranoid and jealous" partner who controlled his wife throughout their marriage and turned her from being bright and bubbly to a "petrified" young woman.

In April 2007 a non-molestation order was imposed banning Hasanovic from venturing within 250m of his wife, known as Cassie, or from calling or texting her, but he continually breached it.

Jurors heard she fled to relatives in Australia, but was forced to return to the UK in February last year after Hasanovic started legal proceedings to try to gain custody of their two sons.

Hajrudin Hasanovic
Hajrudin Hasanovic was told he would serve a minimum of 18 years in jail

On 29 July 2008, in fear for her life, she decided to leave her mother's home in Bognor Regis and go to a women's refuge.

She had asked police for an escort to the refuge, but the request was refused.

As her mother started the car with Mrs Hasanovic and her children in the back, Hasanovic suddenly appeared, grabbed the handle to one of the doors and pulled it so hard that it came off.

He then grabbed his wife, pulled her across one of the children and into the street, where he repeatedly stabbed her with a large kitchen knife.

Prosecutor Philippa McAtasney QC told the court: "He knew that he had lost the custody battle and was about to be deported, so in anger and hate he carried out the threats to kill that he made to Cassandra on numerous occasions."

Jurors heard he suffered from severe depression at the time of the killing and felt he had nothing left to live for without his children in his life.

This brutal, cruel and senseless act has torn our lives apart
Sharon De Souza, mother of Cassandra Hasanovic

Judge Richard Brown told Hasanovic: "I am satisfied on the evidence that you clearly planned to kill your wife and you armed yourself for that purpose.

"This was an horrendous act of violence committed in a public place in full view of your children, the very children you claimed to care so much for.

"In killing her, you have deprived those boys of their mother and devastated her family and friends."

In a statement after the sentencing, Sharon De Souza, the mother of Mrs Hasanovic, said "a light has gone out of our lives".

She described her daughter as "a beautiful, loving, compassionate, inspirational woman" who absolutely adored her children.

"This brutal, cruel and senseless act has torn our lives apart," she said.

Det Ch Insp Graham Pratt, from Sussex Police, described Hasanovic as "cold and callous".

"When he realised that he was likely to lose what was most important to him, namely his children, he planned to kill Cassie," he said.

A statement from the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), which began an investigation because of police contact with Mrs Hasanovic before her death, said the officers who dealt with her complaints about her estranged husband had "acted appropriately".

The IPCC also said officers were not obliged to transport her to the women's refuge on the day of her murder.

IPCC Commissioner Mike Franklin said: "The IPCC investigation was thorough and I do not believe that the tragic events that unfolded on 29 July could reasonably have been foreseen by Sussex Police and prevented."

Hajrudin Hasanovic

A Serbia-born man is found guilty of stabbing his wife to death in front of her children and mother

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