Page last updated at 16:28 GMT, Wednesday, 12 May 2010 17:28 UK

Son-in-law found not guilty of East Sussex fire murder

Pauline Knowles-Samarraie

A 41-year-old man has been cleared of battering his former wife and later mother-in-law and setting her on fire.

Mohammad Soboh, 41, had denied murdering Pauline Knowles-Samarraie, 72, whose body was found by fire crews at the home they shared in East Sussex.

Her body was found on 22 April 2009 in Grand Crescent, Rottingdean.

Speaking outside Lewes Crown Court after he was found not guilty, Mr Soboh said: "I always knew that I didn't do anything wrong. I had nothing to hide."

He added: "I believed in God and I believed that I would never take someone's life."

I looked at everyone around me and they knew of my innocence
Mohammad Soboh

He had earlier collapsed in tears after jurors cleared him of murder following 21 hours and 39 minutes of deliberation.

Mr Soboh, of New England Road, Brighton, described the last 12 months as "draining", and said he had been unable to grieve for his mother-in-law.

"But I looked at everyone around me and they knew of my innocence."

He said his main intention now was to fly to Jordan to see his children, after first visiting the grave of Ms Knowles-Samarraie to lay flowers.

Published memoir

During his three-week trial, Mr Soboh was alleged to have repeatedly struck her over the head with a metal lintel.

The prosecution said he then poured accelerant over her body while his wife and children were out for the day.

Mr Soboh was once married to Ms Knowles-Samarraie but they separated and he went on to marry her daughter.

Our thoughts are with Pauline's family and friends
Sussex Police

Giving evidence, Mr Soboh said he had married British-born Ms Knowles-Samarraie for business reasons so he would be able to get a working visa.

In his defence, Soboh, of New England Road, Brighton, told jurors Ms Knowles-Samarraie saw him as a son and he would never do anything to harm her.

The defence case was also based on a book written by Ms Knowles-Samarraie called I Never Said Goodbye which detailed her life in Iraq, the murder of her first husband and son, and the help she later received from Mr Soboh.

The 255-page memoir, which was published in 2007, describes how Soboh helped Ms Knowles-Samarraie trace her son before she found out he was dead, and how the pair subsequently went into business together.

Following the trial, a Sussex Police spokesman said: "The investigation into the murder of Pauline Knowles-Samarraie was thorough and complex.

"We respect the decision of the jury and, in consultation with the CPS, will now consider if additional lines of inquiry are available.

"Our thoughts are with Pauline's family and friends."

Mohammad Soboh

Mohammad Soboh said he was grateful to everyone who had supported him

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