Builder ‘kidnapped, raped and cut throats of two women’
Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of Vincent Tappu (left) and Mujahid Arshid in the dock of the Old Bailey, London where Arshid is on trial accused of the kidnap, rape and murder of his niece, Celine Dookhran, and the attempted murder of another woman
An “obsessed” builder kidnapped, raped and cut the throats of two young women, leaving one of them dead in a freezer at a disused house, a court has heard.
Mujahid Arshid, 33, had planned for weeks to abduct the two “attractive” women, kill them and dump their bodies in the deep freeze, the Old Bailey heard.
He recruited labourer Vincent Tappu to abduct the pair, wearing balaclavas and gloves, jurors were told.
Bound, gagged and covered in a dust sheet, he allegedly bundled them into the boot of his car and took them to a house he was renovating.
While there, Arshid raped both women and attacked them with a lock knife, jurors were told.
One of the women managed to escape death and raise the alarm by persuading him they could be together, the court heard.
Officers went to the six-bedroom house in Wimbledon, south west London, and discovered the body of Celine Dookhran, 20, in a locked freezer in a utility room.
Arshid is on trial accused of the kidnap, rape and murder of his niece, Ms Dookhran, and the attempted murder of the other woman, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, in July last year.
Prosecutor Crispin Aylett QC told jurors the case was “simply horrific”.
He said the defendant had become “sexually fixated” with the women, and resolved “if he cannot have them no-one could”.
At the time, both women had got boyfriends and Ms Dookhran had moved into Arshid’s home, after falling out with her parents over her love life.
The defendant had allegedly abused the other woman when she was aged 13 and was “beside himself with rage” that she was going out with someone else, the court heard.
Mr Aylett said: “The evidence in this case shows that, for a period of about three weeks before July 19 last year, the first defendant was planning to kidnap both young women.
“Thereafter, and it is as bizarre as it is terrible, he intended to rape them both before murdering them and disposing of their bodies.
“To that end he considered either putting them in acid or else concealing them in a deep freezer.”
On the evening of Tuesday July 18, Ms Dookhran, who worked at Barclays Bank in Mitcham, south west London, was put under pressure to split up with her boyfriend and Arshid put his plan into action, the court heard.
Wearing balaclavas and gloves, the defendants stuffed socks into the women’s mouths and bound their hands and feet before Arshid drove to the Wimbledon house with them in the boot, the court heard.
Two days before, Arshid had installed a chest-high deep freezer into the utility room, Mr Aylett said.
Armed with a lock knife, Arshid allegedly raped each woman in turn in an upstairs bedroom.
Mr Aylett said: “The defendant took Celine back upstairs. He cut her throat in the bathroom, most likely with the lock knife.
“With her mouth still stuffed with a sock, Celine died from the combined effect of the restriction of her airways and lost blood.”
Later, he took the other woman upstairs again and cut her throat, the court heard.
In a desperate bid for survival, she duped him into believing they could still be together, jurors heard.
Mr Aylett said: “It must have been the defendant’s intention to murder both women and to conceal their bodies in the deep freezer of an unoccupied house in the confident expectation that their bodies would not be found for many months.
“Even though he had accomplished but half of his plan, the defendant nonetheless put Celine’s dead body into the freezer. He then locked it using a padlock that he had brought with him.”
The women’s mothers became “frantic” with worry when they went missing and eventually the surviving woman was able to ring in and raise the alarm, even though she did not know where she was.
After leaving with Arshid, she was taken to hospital by his brother, the court heard.
She gave police a description of the house and the officers found Ms Dookhran’s body in the freezer.
Meanwhile, Arshid fled to the Kent coast and was arrested at a hotel in Folkestone, the court heard.
Arshid, of no fixed address, and Tappu, 28, of Spencer Road, Acton, west London, deny the charges against them.
Arshid is accused of murder, attempted murder, rape of both women and the earlier sexual assault and assault by penetration of the surviving woman.
He is jointly charged with Tappu of both women’s kidnap and false imprisonment, and possession of a firearm with intent.
The court heard Ms Dookhran’s family disapproved of her boyfriend Omar because he was from Libya, and not Pakistan.
The couple appeared to bow to pressure, although Omar has since said they were just pretending and had no intention to stop seeing each other, jurors heard.
Mr Aylett said: “The defendant had been hatching his murdeorus plan for several weeks before he actually brought it into effect.
“The prosecution suggest that he must have realised that two young women whom he adored were both slipping away from him. If he could not have them, he would make sure that nobody else could either.”
He told how the property Arshid had earmarked was a three-storey house in Coombe Lane West, between Wimbledon and Kingston.
The owner wanted to convert it into two flats and approached Arshid to do the work in June last year as he was awaiting planning consent.
Mr Aylett suggested Arshid brought the deep freezer to the house in advance to stop the bodies from smelling as they decomposed.
The court heard a taser was used in the abduction of the two women.
Once at the empty house, Arshid acted out his “sexual fantasies”, Mr Aylett said.
According to the account of the surviving victim, Ms Dookhran screamed as she was raped.
Afterwards, he ordered her to climb into the freezer but changed his mind and let her out.
The surviving victim allegedly pleaded with him saying: “We know you’re hurting, you can leave us two right now, walk out of that door.”
Mr Aylett said: “If he had originally intended to leave Celine to freeze to death, he must now have decided that he would have to kill her with the knife and then, only once she was dead, put her body in the freezer.”
Later, the woman heard more screams as Arshid allegedly killed Ms Dookhran.
The woman refused to get into the freezer as well, and Arshid allegedly told her: “I’m this close to slitting your wrist and getting this rope and tying it round your neck and just killing you here right now.”
As he led her upstairs again, Arshid told her Ms Dookhran was “sleeping”, the jury heard.
He went on to cut the woman’s neck, chest and stomach and bang her head against the floor.
Arshid went on to sexually assault her and when he realised she was still alive, allegedly said: “You should have seen Celine when I cut her neck, there was so much blood, oh my God,” the court heard.
As she tried to talk him around, the defendant described himself as a “nasty, horrible, evil person”, the court heard.