Page last updated at 13:04 GMT, Tuesday, 3 March 2009

'Phantom' killer sent to hospital

Rafi Ullah
Ullah tried to cut his throat after the attack

A man who killed a woman while wearing a "Phantom of the Opera" mask has been sent to a mental hospital indefinitely.

Rafi Ullah, 29, donned the mask and wig when he attacked receptionist Sehrish Waqar Sheikh, the Old Bailey heard.

Miss Sheikh was stabbed in the chest and neck at St George's International College office in Plaistow, east London, in September last year.

Ullah, of Wembley, north-west London, pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

Psychotic depression

Ullah had become obsessed with Miss Sheikh and decided she must die after she rejected him, the court had heard.

After police arrived at the scene Ullah tried to cut his own throat.

At the moment you pose a threat to any woman who shows kindness to you
Judge Jeremy Roberts

Miss Sheikh's body had 65 stab wounds.

Ullah, of Jesmond Avenue, Wembley, north London, also pleaded guilty to wounding pregnant college administrator Kiran Asgha, 22, who was stabbed in the shoulder.

The court was told that Ullah, a Pakistani who came to Britain on a student visa in 2006, was suffering from long-term psychotic depression during the incident.

The body of Sehrish Waqar Sheikh is removed from the scene in Balaam Street, Plaistow, east London
The victim was stabbed in the chest and neck

Sir Desmond de Silva QC, defending, said: "It is always tragic when a killing takes place as the result of what is sometimes called the Othello syndrome.

"In this case, the defendant travelled on a bus with the executioner's mask to kill the object of his insane jealousy."

Judge Jeremy Roberts told Ullah: "At the moment you pose a threat to any woman who shows kindness to you, to be nice to you as Miss Sheikh was. You became fixated with her."

Miss Sheikh's brother, Yasir, wrote a statement to the judge in which he said the "cold-blooded execution" had thrown his "average, hard-working family" into a nightmare.

"It felt like judgment day. It showed how it feels to be defeated by this heartless world," he wrote.

'Wanted her'

Prosecutor Duncan Atkinson said the pair had met when Miss Sheikh had been working at her brother's mini-cab firm and he was delivering leaflets.

"If anything, she was kinder to him than anyone else in the office. It is that kindness which had such dire consequences," he said.

"In interview, he admitted responsibility. He explained he had become obsessed with her and wished to die and could not allow her to live," Mr Atkinson added.

On a note written to police, Ullah had written: "I love her very much but she does not treat me, even though I love her."

He told an officer: "I could not have her and I was afraid she would have someone else. I wanted her at any cost.

"I came with the intention to kill her and to kill me."

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SEE ALSO
Man charged with stabbing woman
27 Sep 08 |  London
Murdered college employee named
24 Sep 08 |  London


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