Pakistani husband torched wife as divorce would scupper his chance of UK VISA, court hears


Pakistani-born Muhammed Hammad is said to have murdered care worker Nazia Akhtar, 31, because she had threatened to throw him out of the marital home in Birmingham and begin divorce proceedings, scuppering his chances of getting a British visa.

Birmingham Crown Court heard the “running sore” in the couple”s two-year relationship was that Hammad could not stand his mother-in-law and she, in turn, hated him. 

Hammad, 30, of Fox Hollies Road, Acocks Green, who works in a mobile phone shop, has pleaded not guilty to murder.

He claims his wife had been decorating, had spilled white spirit over herself and then accidentally set herself alight when she lit up a cigarette.

James Curtis QC, prosecuting, said the couple had met in 2013 and married in an Islamic ceremony in September 2014.

Hammad moved into her first- floor flat in Fox Hollies Road, Acocks Green.

Mr Curtis said they had a volatile relationship, with most of their arguments centring on the fact that Mrs Akhtar”s family did not like the defendant and he did not like them.

The biggest bone of contention, Mr Curtis said, was Hammad”s relationship with his mother-in-law, which resulted in a mutual dislike with both of them avoiding each other.

He said: “It was a running sore in their relationship – it was like the standard music hall joke.”

Mr Curtis said the fire broke out on April 25 last year when both of them became engulfed in flames and, in the minutes immediately after the blaze, Mrs Akhtar told neighbours the fire was an accident.

Both were taken to hospital, with Mrs Akhtar critically ill and eventually dying on June 12, while Hammad survived.

During the seven weeks she survived Mrs Akhtar”s account of how she came about her injuries changed.

Mr Curtis said: “First of all, it was shock and pain and all about protecting her man. Then she started wavering and began telling people what he did to her, and finally, concerned for her safety, being angry and fearful.” 

By mid-May she told her burns consultant, who phoned the police, that it was her husband who had set her on fire.

During a tape-recorded interview Mrs Akhtar said she and her husband had rowed that day about their marriage being over and that her husband only wanted her for a British visa and was calling her a “fat, ugly cow”.

Mr Curtis said: “The consultant who was treating her said the pattern of her burns was consistent with her having accelerant poured on her and set on fire.” 

The trial continues.