Freezer killer, 36, is found guilty of double murderSeptember 3, 2020
Freezer killer’s lair: Chilling moment police scoured flat where double killer stored in a freezer the frozen bodies of his two female victims – including a missing mother whose children never stopped looking for her
- Zahid Younis, 36, of Canning Town, battered Henriett Szucs, 34, to death in 2016
- Stored body of Mihrican Mustafa, 38, in same freezer two years on after murder
- Police found bodies had been frozen for so long they had become fused together
- He was previously jailed for getting a child bride pregnant when she was 14
- Younis was sentenced at Southwark Crown Court but refused to leave his cell
A convicted sex offender was today jailed for at least 38 years after being convicted of murdering two women whose bodies were found inside a freezer in his flat.
Zahid Younis, 36, battered Hungarian prostitute Henriett Szucs, 34, to death in 2016 then stored the body of mother-of-two Mihrican Mustafa, 38, in the same freezer two years later when he strangled her.
When police caught up with Younis, they found the bodies had been frozen for so long at his flat in Canning Town, East London, that they had become fused together.
Bodycam footage released by Scotland Yard today showed police officers searching the flat before they made the grim discovery in April last year, with one detective heard saying: ‘There’s a freezer here I want to get into but it’s locked.’
The manipulative killer has a history of abusing women and was previously jailed for getting a child bride pregnant when she was 14 after marrying her in a mosque.
He showed no emotion as the verdicts were read out while members of Ms Mustafa’s family, who attended every day of the three-week trial, said ‘yes’ in the public gallery.
Convicted sex offender Zahid Younis, 35, was today found guilty of murdering two women whose bodies were found stuffed inside a freezer in his flat in Canning Town, East London
The bodies of Henriett Szucs (left) and Mihrican Mustafa (right) were found together in London
Mihrican Mustafa’s cousin Ayse Hussein, niece Zeyhal Ozulku, sister Mel Mustafa, Jade and Kazim Salih speak outside Southwark Crown Court, south London, today
Bodycam footage released by Scotland Yard today showed police officers searching the flat before they made the grim discovery in April last year, with one detective heard saying: ‘There’s a freezer here I want to get into but it’s locked’
Her older sister, Mel Mustafa, said: ‘Thank you God, thank you.’ The judge, Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb gave Younis a life sentence with a minimum of 38 years.
The judge, Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb, said: ‘It will surprise no-one in this room that the defendant has declined to attend his sentence, while he sits in the cells below, but I will address these remarks to him so when he has the courage to read them he will understand why the court has reached the conclusion it has.’
She branded Younis an ‘arch-deceiver’, calling him a ‘heartless man and a narcissist’, adding: ‘You have preyed upon the vulnerable with superficial charm.
‘You have been convicted by the strong prosecution case. Not only were the bodies of two women found in your home, hidden in a locked freezer purchased for that purpose, they showed signs of violence which you failed to explain.’
The judge said Younis had ‘robbed’ his victims of ‘all happiness in life and dignity in death,’ and said: ‘You have no remorse.’
Freezer packaging found inside Younis’s one-bedroom flat following a police search last year
The front door (left) and a cupboard door (right) at Younis’s flat in Canning Town, East London
Evidence markers are laid across Younis’s bedroom floor after police searched the flat last year
Younis refused to leave his cell to be sentenced this afternoon, with his barrister Icah Peart QC telling Southwark Crown Court: ‘I have been downstairs to speak to him to try to persuade him to return to court. He feels unable to do so.’
How the double murderer preyed on vulnerable women
Double murderer Zahid Younis has a history of preying on the vulnerable.
Both of the women he murdered and left in a freezer had led somewhat chaotic lives – they had been homeless at times and had struggled with drugs. They were easy to manipulate.
Investigating officer Detective Chief Inspector Simon Harding, of the Metropolitan Police, said: ‘Zahid Younis is a particularly dangerous and what I would describe as a repugnant individual who preys on vulnerable women in particular and abuses them, brings them into his control and causes them significant injury.’
He described Younis’s life as ‘a pattern of lies’, adding: ‘He is a person who uses drugs and would manipulate and lie to people to get money.’
Younis, 36, murdered Hungarian national Henriett Szucs, 34, and mother-of-three Mihrican ‘Jan’ Mustafa, 38.
Ms Szucs had last been seen in August 2016 and Ms Mustafa in May 2018. Their bodies were found in a padlocked freezer with flies swarming around it at Younis’s flat in Vandome Close, Canning Town, in April 2019.
The grim discovery was made by a uniformed police officer who had only gone to the flat in search of Younis after he had been reported as missing.
DCI Harding said the freezer was forced open by one of the officers on ‘an old-fashioned police hunch’ about what was inside it.
He said: ‘He broke open the freezer and discovered what could only be seen, at the time, as only one body.
‘It actually took the freezer being taken away and X-rayed for it to be seen there was another body underneath that. It was a gruesome discovery for the officers.’
The ‘horrendous scenes’ faced by his team, who are trained for their jobs, is nothing compared to the ‘bravery’ of the victims’ families whose ordeal has spanned, not just their loved ones’ disappearance and killing but now also this court case, he said.
Members of Ms Mustafa’s large family have been at the trial at London’s Southwark Crown Court every day and Younis showed no remorse as he denied murdering them.
DCI Harding said: ‘It is incomprehensible to imagine what the families are going through.
‘They have been incredibly brave throughout this entire ordeal. It is an ordeal in court listening to his lies. It is hard to listen if you are a family member to hear what he is saying about your daughter, sister or mum.’
DCI Harding described Ms Szucs as someone who had been in abusive relationships before and was then preyed upon by Younis.
She moved in with him and Younis denied having a long-term relationship with her but ‘we have shown that she was really in love with him in her own way,’ DCI Harding said.
‘She wrote him letters that we found. Unfortunately to him, she did not mean anything. She was just another person that he was abusing physically and mentally, resulting in her death 10 months after she met him.’
Younis waited a year before he told anybody including the police or prosecution exactly what his defence was. He waited until all the evidence had been served.
Then he came up with his ‘story’ which included blaming someone as having helped him put the bodies in the freezer even though they were in prison at the time, DCI Harding noted.
The court heard that Younis has several previous convictions for assaulting partners.
When he was 17, Younis was controlling, violent and overbearing towards his then-girlfriend, including waiting outside her house and escorting her everywhere.
In 2004 he married a 14-year-old in an Islamic ceremony at a mosque in Walthamstow, east London. He was eventually jailed for 30 months for assaulting the teenager and unlawful sexual activity with a child and was put on the sex offenders’ register.
The prosecution said that in 2007, following his release from prison, Younis got into a relationship with a 17-year-old girl whose father had recently died.
The jury heard the violence began with slaps, before escalating into punches and kicks, leaving the teenager with large bruises.
The girl’s family eventually tricked Younis into allowing her to leave the home they shared, following an assault that fractured her arm in three places.
He was later sentenced to four years and 11 months for two counts of wounding and one of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
Police visited him at the tiny one-bedroom flat he rented as a registered sex offender in 2016, not knowing the body of Ms Szucs was entombed in ice yards away.
The flat was in a mess and they left without interviewing Younis after he told the officers he was using a bucket as a makeshift toilet.
Hungarian prostitute Ms Szucs disappeared after moving in with Younis and was last seen alive with him in the summer of 2016.
Ms Mustafa had also been visiting Younis before she disappeared in May 2018. Police only found their bodies when he fled the flat and was reported missing in April 2019.
They had to crowbar open the locked freezer, which had been hidden in the electricity meter cupboard, and found the two bodies which were decomposing rapidly after the electricity was cut off.
Both victims had suffered appalling injuries including multiple broken ribs. Ms Mustafa had suffered a fractured larynx and Ms Szucs’s skull had been fractured.
Younis tried to hijack his trial by firing his lawyer, demanding more time to review case documents and shouting abuse from the dock.
But the jury a Southwark Crown Court in London convicted him of two counts of murder this afternoon after deliberating for 16 hours and six minutes.
Younis, who has flower tattoos on both sides of his neck, had abused girlfriends for many years and left one partner with a broken arm in 2007.
He married a 13-year-old girl in a Walthamstow mosque when he was 20 and admitted unlawful sexual activity with a child the following year in 2005 when she fell pregnant.
Younis also admitted common assault after he put the teenager in a headlock to drag her out of a supermarket.
She was introduced to him when she was 12 and they began a sexual relationship when she was 13.
A year later they were married in an Islamic ceremony at the mosque.
Younis was given 30 months for having sex with her in 2005 and in 2008 he was jailed for breaking the arm of another teenage lover in three places.
He was sentenced to nearly five years in jail after admitting two counts of wounding and one count of assault occasioning actual bodily harm against the 17-year-old.
Younis left her covered in bruises and isolated from her friends while threatening to set her family home on fire if she confided in anyone about the abuse.
Another girlfriend who went on to have his child was locked in an airing cupboard for hours by Younis.
He also imprisoned her in a telephone box when she tried to call her mother and threatened to throw her in front of a train.
Both of his murder victims were vulnerable women ‘living somewhat chaotic lives’ characterised by periods of homelessness and addiction to class A drugs.
Before she died neighbours had seen Ms Szucs at the flat with a badly bruised face and heard ‘disturbing noises’ coming from the flat.
She had been forced to convert to Islam by Younis but wrote to him begging forgiveness for doubting him saying: ‘I got disillusioned just because of some slaps to the face.’
Neighbours also saw Ms Mustafa with marks around her neck but Younis claimed she had been drinking too much and tried to kill him.
Bodycam material played to the court showed PC Omar Naeem shining a torch through Younis’ abandoned flat to find the locked freezer with a zimmer frame on top of it.
The officer could be heard saying: ‘Wait, there’s a foot there,’ to his colleague before bodies came into view.
Younis claimed Ms Szucs died mysteriously on his sofa and said two men, called Ted Jolley and Tommy Farmer, turned up outside his home with Ms Mustafa’s corpse stuffed in a wheelie bin.
He said they told him to burn Ms Mustafa’s body and dispose of her clothes off Southend Pier in Essex.
He also said he was out when Ms Szucs died at his flat and did not tell police because he was ‘panicking’. He told jurors he did not kill Ms Mustafa and did not know how she died.
Younis also said he paid a man to help him get Ms Szucs’s body into the freezer and that his accomplice later blackmailed him into putting Ms Mustafa’s corpse in the same place.
Duncan Penny, QC, prosecuting, slammed the double killer for telling ‘fairy tales’ and told him: ‘You were responsible for those deaths and the stories about these two characters, with all these elaborations, is nothing more than that. It is a story. It is a yarn. It is a tall tale.’
Mr Penny told jurors: ‘The sad truth in this appalling case is that just like those who survived and who spoke of their experience at the hands of Younis, Henriett Szucs and Mihrican Mustafa were the victims of Zahid Younis.
Ms Mustafa’s handbag was found during a police search of the flat. She went missing in 2018
A ripped up photograph of Ms Szucs was found in Younis’s flat during the police search
Ms Mustafa (pictured) had last been seen in May 2018, before the grim discovery in April 2019
‘They were murdered by him and their bodies were treated with the same disrespect and indignity by him.
‘We have lost a precious jewel’: Full statement from Mihrican Mustafa’s family
‘Jan’s death has changed our family forever. From the moment we found out that she was missing, we spent every moment of every hour looking for her and we never for one minute gave up.
‘When Jan didn’t come to her daughter’s birthday, she wrote: ‘To mummy – Please come back I really miss you. You missed my 11th birthday party (it was the worst party ever) I sat in the corner crying my eyes out looking at your pictures and reading your poems while in my head screaming, ‘where are you! Please mum, come back home.’
‘Deep down I knew something wasn’t right because you would never leave your children. They were your world.
‘The call from the police will never be forgotten, hearing them words confirming they found my Jan was never real, I still don’t believe it. The moment we told my Auntie and Jan’s children, with an ambulance on standby, breaks every part of me; seeing the pain and tears in their eyes.
‘She was a gentle being, who still had her whole life ahead of her, to live and watch her children grow. My heart deeply goes out to her children, who are the strongest people that I know. The grief that they are going through compares to no other pain.
‘Our family have lost a precious jewel; my Aunt Mary Jane Mustafa was an incredible Aunt, Mother, Sister and Daughter to her family.
‘Jan was a fantastic mother. She adored her children. She loved to dance. She was artistic. She was creative. She was beautiful. She was friends with everybody and very funny. She celebrated life. She was optimistic. She never said anything bad about anybody. She would give her last penny to someone in need. She was an angel. She is an angel.
‘Sister my angel. God has given you your assignment. Always my sister, forever my angel, you fly into my dreams when I’m asleep. I feel your wings brush against my face, wiping away the tears I shed since I can no longer hold you in my arms, but only in my heart.’
‘The trial is over, justice has been done. ‘Closure,’ they say. Never. It will not bring my Jan back. I love you my Tilly and I know you are with me.’
‘He will not face up to what he has done because he has demonstrated in this process, and let’s face it, over the years, because he is capable only of thinking of himself and capable of going to any length to protect himself.’
Younis, who hobbled into court each day using crutches, denied but was convicted of two counts of murder.
Detective Chief Inspector Simon Harding, of the Metropolitan Police, said: ‘Zahid Younis is a particularly dangerous and what I would describe as a repugnant individual who preys on vulnerable women in particular and abuses them, brings them into his control and causes them significant injury.’
Mr Harding said the officer was acting on ‘an old-fashioned police hunch’ when he discovered the women’s bodies, which had started to decompose after periods when the flat’s electricity had been cut off.
The victims had been subjected to ‘very significant violence’ and suffered injuries consistent with kicking or stamping, Mr Penny said.
Mr Harding said Younis had shown no remorse as he subjected his victims’ families to a trial.
‘They have been incredibly brave throughout this entire ordeal. It is an ordeal in court listening to his lies. It is hard to listen if you are a family,’ he added.
The family of Ms Mustafa said: ‘Jan’s death has changed our family forever. From the moment we found out that she was missing, we spent every moment of every hour looking for her and we never for one minute gave up.’
They added that she was did not come to her daughter’s birthday, she wrote: ‘To mummy – Please come back I really miss you. You missed my 11th birthday party (it was the worst party ever) I sat in the corner crying my eyes out looking at your pictures and reading your poems while in my head screaming, ‘where are you! Please mum, come back home.’
The family statement continued: ‘Deep down I knew something wasn’t right because you would never leave your children. They were your world.
‘The call from the police will never be forgotten, hearing them words confirming they found my Jan was never real, I still don’t believe it.
‘The moment we told my Auntie and Jan’s children, with an ambulance on standby, breaks every part of me; seeing the pain and tears in their eyes.
‘She was a gentle being, who still had her whole life ahead of her, to live and watch her children grow. My heart deeply goes out to her children, who are the strongest people that I know. The grief that they are going through compares to no other pain.’
Ms Szucs’ mother, Maria, who is in Hungary and could not attend court because of the coronavirus pandemic, said in a statement: ‘Henriett was a beautiful, kind, young woman and nobody deserves to be killed in such brutal circumstances.’
Forensics officers leave the flat in Canning Town, East London, in April 2019 following the grim discovery in the freezer, where the bodies of the two women had fused together
Police on the scene outside the flat in Canning Town in April 2019 after two bodies were found
A statement released on her behalf by the Metropolitan Police said: ‘Maria, Henriett’s mother, has been hugely overwhelmed by the death of her daughter. Not only because she was murdered but because it happened in another country. A country where she doesn’t know the law or know the police investigation and court processes.
‘Maria lost touch with Henriett when she came to the UK but that only exacerbates her grief. The fact that Henriett lay deceased in a freezer for two and a half years with no-one looking for her or realising she was missing, torments Maria on a daily basis.
‘The inner turmoil she suffers is as you would expect for a mother mourning the death of her child and to make matters worse, she hasn’t been able to see her or lay her to rest. This is most unimaginable for any family member but particularly a mother.’
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