1. ITV Report

The story of a troubled life that ended in tragedy

Shafilea was born in Bradford on July 14 1986, and soon after her birth the family moved to Warrington, Cheshire.

She had three sisters; Alesha, 24, Mevish, 21, and a 16-year-old sister who cannot be named for legal reasons. She had one brother, Junyad, 22.

Shafilea first came to the attention of the authorities when she was 10, when together with her younger sister Rukish - who was later to change her name to Alesha - she went missing from school on March 10 1998.

The police were called but the children were soon found.

Soon after this incident there was an escalation of problems in the home which appeared to stem from Shafilea's desire to live a westernised teenager's life.

Andrew Edis QC, who prosecuted the case against the parents, said: "She was in direct conflict with the rules and conventions set down by her parents and dictated by their strict expectations of her."

Social services were alerted in May 2002 when Mrs Ahmed and her five children had reportedly been thrown out of their home by her husband.

They were later interviewed under caution by the police but claimed they were unable to recall what had led to the bust-up.

In February 2002, Shafilea's form tutor at Great Sankey High School, Gill Power, told police about a school trip when she was in Year 7.

Shafilea brought in a signed parental consent form but before the class left Mr Ahmed came into the school and accused Shafilea of stealing money and as a punishment would not allow her to go on the trip.

At a school disco in Year 8, Shafilea borrowed money from a friend in order to pay for the event.

At the end of the night she went into the school toilets to change from her western clothes into her traditional clothes before being picked up by her parents.

The following day Mr Ahmed came into the school, angry about Shafilea being at the disco.

In Year 9 the teenager was regularly turning up late to school. When questioned by Gill Power she said her parents were forcing her to do housework and domestic chores.

She said she was getting into trouble at home and her parents were hitting her.

In Year 11 teachers and friends reported that Shafilea would attend school crying, saying that her mother would slap her and throw a slipper at her.

When asked by Ms Power if her father was also hitting her she became more upset and the teacher gave Shafilea the number for ChildLine.

Ms Power recalls that Shafilea had to wear trousers as opposed to skirts and other teachers recall that she was not allowed to take part in swimming at school as a result of "religious restrictions" placed on her by her parents.

Despite her troubles at home, Shafilea produced a good set of GCSE results in 2002 and expressed a desire to go to college and then to university to study law.

But the last 12 months of her life would be even more traumatic than she could have imagined.

During the summer of 2002 Shafilea established relationships with young men and her parents strongly disapproved.

Shafilea railed against them controlling every aspect of her life and went to extreme lengths to keep her western life secret, passing secret notes to boys and giving their telephone numbers to friends for safekeeping.

She would also leave make-up and false nails in her school locker.

Within three weeks of starting sixth form, Shafilea - a keen student - started showing long periods of absence.

Alesha told her friends that their parents were keeping her at home.

Various reports were made to social services and in one phone call made to the family home Mr Ahmed told teacher Joanne Code that he had "burned all her textbooks".

The prosecution said this was all part of the "systematic stripping away of Shafilea's independence".

She went back to school in October 2002 and had visible injuries to her neck and a cut lip. She told Joanne Code that her mother had held her down while her father had hit her and social services were again informed.

Around this time Shafilea told her friend Melissa Powner that her mother had told her: "I can't wait till you go to Pakistan, teach you a lesson" and "you're adopted, you're not my daughter".

Despite this, the social services file on Shafilea was closed on October 2002 after Shafilea played down her problems and said she did not want them to intervene.

Between November 2002 and January 2003 Shafilea told friends and teachers there was an increasing number of assaults.

She quit her job and ran away from home for the first time.

She ran away again for 12 days in February 2003 with her boyfriend Mushtaq Bagas.

She told council officers she needed emergency accommodation as her parents were trying to force her into an arranged marriage.

But on February 10 she was snatched "screaming and terrified" from the street as she made her way to college by her father and later that month she was on a plane to Pakistan where she would end up drinking bleach in protest at the arrangement.

She returned to the UK in May 2003 and spent eight weeks in Warrington Hospital because of the damage to her throat.

During that time her weight plummeted to just 5st.

A fellow patient Fosia Aslam later told police she asked Shafilea why she drank the bleach and Shafilea replied: "You don't know what they did to me there."

She told Aslam her parents wanted her to marry her cousin, adding: "I don't even like the guy."

She said the only reason she drank the bleach was to "get out of there".

After being discharged from hospital Shafilea tried to re-start her life and got a telesales job and started at Priestley College, Warrington, in September 2003.

On September 11, after a period of relative calm when Shafilea had been back in touch with her old friends and was trying to rekindle the relationship with her former boyfriend, she was picked up from work by her mother.

In her key testimony seven years on from Shafilea's death Alesha Ahmed finally exposed the family's dark secret.

She said Shafilea's clothes had once again made her mother angry.

When they got home they searched her bag and found money which they accused the 17-year-old of hiding.

Mr Edis told the jury that it was when Mr and Mrs Ahmed realised they had "failed to crush her" that they decided to kill her and stop her bringing further shame on the family name.

The "tiny and weak" Shafilea was pushed on to the settee.

Mrs Ahmed said to her husband in Punjabi: "Etay khatam kar saro" (Just finish it here).

They beat her and then stuffed a thin white plastic bag into her mouth and held their hands over her mouth and nose until she wet herself and "was gone".

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