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Custom House murder accused bought freezer for ‘sole purpose’ of concealing bodies, court hears

PUBLISHED: 14:09 10 August 2020 | UPDATED: 14:09 10 August 2020

The bodies of Henriett Szucs and Mary Jane Mustafa were found in a freezer in Custom House. Pictures: Ellie Hoskins and Ayse Hussein.

The bodies of Henriett Szucs and Mary Jane Mustafa were found in a freezer in Custom House. Pictures: Ellie Hoskins and Ayse Hussein.

Archant

A “manipulative and controlling” man killed two vulnerable women and stored their bodies in a chest freezer he bought for that exact purpose, a court has heard.

The remains of Hungarian national Henriett Szucs, who had been sleeping rough in Ilford, and Canning Town mother-of-two Mihrican Mustafa, also known as Mary Jane, were discovered by police in April last year.

Zahid Younis, 36, who was the occupant of the one-bedroom, ground-floor flat in Vandome Close, Custom House where the two women were found, is on trial for two counts of murder.

The two women had been missing for a long time before the grim discovery - Ms Szucs had last been seen in August 2016 and Ms Mustafa in May 2018.

Jurors at Southwark Crown Court were told the alleged victims had been subject to “very significant violence”.

Prosecutor Duncan Penny QC said that Mr Younis had bought the freezer a short time after the death of Ms Szucs “for the sole purpose” of concealing her body.

Mr Penny said police had gone to the property looking for Mr Younis when one found a lockable freezer in a cupboard which had flies around it and items stacked on top.

The bodies were discovered after the officers forced the lid of the freezer with a crowbar.

“Prior to their death each of them had been the victim of significant injury, each of them appeared to have been subject to very significant violence,” Mr Penny said.

The women, both in their 30s at the time of their disappearances, had suffered numerous rib fractures, while Ms Szucs had sustained “dreadful” head injuries and Ms Mustafa’s sternum and larynx had been fractured, Mr Penny said.

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Ms Szucs’ blood was found on the carpet of the flat and Ms Mustafa’s fingerprint on the oven, Mr Penny said.

The court heard that between their deaths and the discovery of the bodies, there were periods when the electricity supply to the flat had been cut off - causing the bodies to start to decompose.

By April 2019, Mr Younis had allegedly become so paranoid about the smell in the flat and the possibility the freezer would be discovered that he had abandoned the address.

When he was detained, Mr Younis told police: “It’s my house, it’s my problem, no-one else is involved.”

He later gave a “no comment” interview.

The court heard the two women were known to have associated with Mr Younis in the weeks leading up to their disappearances, and belongings of each of them were found in the flat.

Both were “vulnerable women living somewhat chaotic lives”, including periods of homelessness and class A drug addiction, Mr Penny added.

Ms Szucs had met the defendant while both were patients at the Royal London Hospital.

She had been taken to hospital after she had been thrown or had fallen from a fifth floor balcony during an incident of domestic violence at the hands of her previous partner, the court heard.

Diary entries understood to be written by Ms Szucs, whose body was found partially dressed in her pyjamas, suggested Mr Younis was “violent and controlling” towards her, the prosecutor said.

Mr Penny added: “You will hear that the defendant is indeed a man with the ability and the disposition to manipulate and to seek to control vulnerable women.”

The trial continues.


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