Woman’s body so badly decomposed not possible to say how she died, jury told

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The body of a 20-year-old woman allegedly murdered by her uncle was so badly decomposed it was not possible to determine how she died, a pathologist has told a jury.

Bradford Crown Court has heard how Somaiya Begum’s body was found wrapped in a rug on waste ground in the city in July last year – 11 days after she went missing.

One of her uncles, Mohammed Taroos Khan, 53, denies killing Ms Begum at her home in Binnie Street, Bradford, on June 25, but has admitted disposing of her body and trying to burn her mobile phone.

The jury has heard how the Leeds Beckett University student had been living with another of her uncles after her parents had been issued with a Forced Marriage Protection Order.

Leeds Beckett University
Somaiya Begum was a student at Leeds Beckett University (Alamy/UK)

On Thursday, Home Office forensic pathologist Kirsten Hope told the court how Miss Begum’s body was extensively decomposed, especially her head and neck.

Dr Hope said that, because of the decomposition, she was unable to ascertain a cause of death.

The pathologist told the jury that the most obvious feature she had noticed in her post-mortem examination was a 10.7cm-long metal spike which was embedded in Miss Begum’s back and had penetrated her lung.

Asked by Jason Pitter KC, prosecuting, whether this would have been a fatal injury, she replied: “In itself, it’s not an immediate life-threatening injury if you seek immediate medical assistance.”

Mr Pitter asked Dr Hope: “And if you don’t seek medical assistance?”

She said: “It could be potentially fatal over a period of time because of the risk of infection, predominantly.”

Dr Hope told the jury she was satisfied there was “trauma, including potential assault prior to death” and agreed that was “consistent with Somaiya Begum being killed”.

The pathologist said the decomposition of the neck had removed her ability to ascertain whether Miss Begum had been strangled.

She told the court she had some suspicion around the movement of a bone in the neck which could indicate asphyxiation in some cases but further tests showed no evidence of a fracture of this structure.

The jury has heard how Miss Begum’s extended family was split in two by a feud and Mr Pitter told the jury that they may hear the death explained in terms of an “inappropriately named honour killing”.

Opening the case earlier this week, the prosecutor added: “Whatever it was … it was not honourable.”

Khan, of Thornbury Road, Bradford, denies murder but has admitted perverting the course of justice.

The trial is expected to last three weeks.

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