Man, 36, jailed for life for murdering two women whose bodies were found in his freezer
A 36-year-old man has been jailed for life for murdering two women whose bodies were found inside a freezer in his flat in Canning Town.
Zahid Younis was convicted on Thursday at Southwark Crown Court of murdering Hungarian national Henriett Szucs, 34, and mother-of-three Mihrican “Jan” Mustafa, 38.
He was later sentenced to a minimum of 38 years in jail.
Younis, known as “Boxer”, admitted putting the women in the freezer and pleaded guilty to two counts of preventing the lawful and decent burial of a body.
He denied two counts of murder but was found guilty of both charges by a jury at Southwark Crown Court on Thursday after 16 hours and six minutes of deliberations.
Younis showed no emotion as the verdicts were read out while members of Ms Mustafa’s large family, who attended every day of the three-week trial, said “yes” in the public gallery.
Her older sister, Mel Mustafa, said: “Thank you God, thank you.”
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.
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.”
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 broke open the freezer and discovered what could only be seen, at the time, as only one body,” he said.
“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.
DCI Harding added: “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.”
The family of Ms Mustafa said her death has “changed our family forever”.
“She was a gentle being, who still had her whole life ahead of her, to live and watch her children grow,” a statement said.
“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.”
The family described Ms Mustafa as “a fantastic mother” who “adored her children”.
“She loved to dance. She was artistic. She was creative. She was beautiful,” the statement said.
“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.”
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.”
A statement issued on behalf of Maria, Henriett’s mother, said the loss of her daughter had been “unimaginable”.
“Maria, Henriett’s mother, has been hugely overwhelmed by the death of her daughter,” the statement said.
“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.”
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.