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Woman raped and murdered by 'obsessed uncle' before her body was padlocked in a freezer, court hears

A young woman was raped and murdered by her "obsessed" uncle before her body was padlocked in a deep freezer, a court heard today.

Court artist sketch of Vincent Tappu (left) and Mujahid Arshid Credit: Elizabeth Cook/PA Wire

Celine Dookhran, 20, was allegedly kidnapped by her relative Mujahid Arshid, 33, and his employee Vincent Tappu, 28, on July 19 last year.

They bound and gagged her and another woman and Arshid, a builder, took them to a six-bedroom south west London house he had been working at, the Old Bailey was told.

He considered dissolving the bodies in acid or hiding them in a chest-high freezer he installed two days before, it was claimed.

But the second woman managed to survive despite having her throat slit, and raised the alarm from hospital, which led to the discovery of Miss Dookhran's body.

Opening the prosecution case, Crispin Aylett QC warned jurors:

The evidence that gives rise to those charges is, I am afraid, simply horrific. You will have to steel yourselves for what is to come.

– Crispin Aylett QC, prosecutor

He said Arshid became "obsessed" with Miss Dookhran, who worked in Barclay's bank in Sutton, but knew that she was having a sexual relationship with her boyfriend, a Libyan Muslim.

Realising she was "beyond his clutches", he resolved if he could not have her then "nobody else would", it was said.

Arshid plotted to kidnap both women for about three weeks before, the prosecutor said.

He told the court:

Thereafter, and it is as bizarre as it is terrible, he intended to rape them before murdering them and disposing of their bodies.

He considered either putting them in acid, in order that their bodies might dissolve, or else concealing them in a deep freezer.

– Crispin Aylett QC, prosecutor

The night before the murder, a family meeting took place, the court heard.

Pressure was brought to bear on Celine and her boyfriend to end their relationship.

And although they agreed to stop seeing each other, no one could have been sure that they meant to keep their word, and it may well be that they didn't.

Would she fall into line or might she run away? The defendant put his plan into action.

It would have been difficult for Mujahid Arshid to overpower both young women on his own. And so he needed an accomplice.

– Crispin Aylett QC, prosecutor

Tappu had been working for Arshid on a part-time basis.

On Tappu's own account, he had at that time been short of money.

– Crispin Aylett QC, prosecutor

They made an arrangement the day before, and early on July 19 Tappu drove to a side street near where Miss Dookhran lived, it was said.

The two men, both wearing balaclavas and gloves, burst into her room, the jury was told.

The two women had socks stuffed into their mouths. Their mouths were covered in tape.

Their hands and feet were tied together. Each of them was wrapped in a builder's dust sheet.

– Crispin Aylett QC, prosecutor

Arshid scooped up clothes and phones, to give the "entirely false" impression Miss Dookhran had run away, it was claimed.

He also grabbed large quantities of underwear, "no doubt consistent with his sexual fascination" with her, the court was told.

The two women were taken from the house wrapped in dust sheets, and placed in the boot of the first defendant's pick up truck.

– Crispin Aylett QC, prosecutor

Tappu played no further part, jurors were told.

A month before, the owner of a six-bed detached home between Wimbledon and Kingston gave Arshid a set of keys so he could carry out work.

He drove the women to the house, and tied them to the pipes in the utility room while he was armed with a lock knife, the prosecutor said.

He allegedly took the second victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, upstairs and raped her, before doing the same thing to Miss Dookhran.

In the bathroom of that house, he cut Celine's throat, most likely with the lock knife.

With her mouth still stuffed with a sock, Celine died from the combined effect of the restriction of her airwaves and the blood that she lost.

– Crispin Aylett QC, prosecutor

The court heard Arshid then took the second woman, in her 20s, upstairs and cut her throat, and told her "she would be dead within ten minutes".

It must have been the defendant's intention to murder both women and to conceal their bodies in the deep freezer of an unoccupied house.

That way, it might be many many months before anyone thought to open the freezer that had been put in the kitchen of that house.

He put Celine's body into the deep freezer and locked it with the padlock he must have brought with him.

– Crispin Aylett QC, prosecutor

But the second woman survived and was later taken to hospital, where she gave the police details who then found the house.

A police officer arrived with a crowbar. The lock was broken and inside was the body of Celine Dookhran.

She had obviously been dead for some considerable time.

– Crispin Aylett QC, prosecutor

Arshid fled to Folkestone, Kent where he was arrested the same night in a hotel, still possessing the padlock key.

Arshid, of no fixed address, denies murder, attempted murder, two counts of kidnap, two counts of rape, two counts of conspiracy to falsely imprison another, possessing a firearm with intent - a Taser.

He also denies one count of sexual assault, and one count of assault by penetration, involving the second woman between November 2008 and November 2010.

Tappu, of Acton, west London, denies two counts of kidnap, two counts of conspiracy to falsely imprison another, and one count of possessing a firearm with intent.

The trial continues.