Case: The Fancy Dress Killer
Sehrish Waqar Sheikh
Rafi Ullah
Status: Solved
Categories: Crimes of Passion, Mental...
Case synopsis:

College receptionist Sehrish Waqar Sheikh was stabbed to death at her desk by a man wearing an executioner's mask and a long black wig.

The 23 year-old victim was knifed 65 times, mostly to the head and neck, and died within seconds of the attack on September 22, 2008.

Tragically, she knew her killer Rafi Ullah, 29, from his time delivering flyers for her brother-in-law's cab firm.

Ullah, who had come to the UK from Pakistan on a student visa, had become obsessed with the attractive young woman from a distance and believed he was in love.

Prosecutor Duncan Atkinson explained: 'There was very little contact between Rafi Ullah and Sehrish Sheikh but if anything she was kinder towards him than others in the office.

'It was that kindness which had such terrible consequences.'

In the autumn of 2008, Ullah discovered that she was planning to marry a man from Pakistan.

Suffering from the effects of mental illness, he decided his only option was to kill her and commit suicide.

On September 19 Ullah bought a dark grey executioner's mask, with fake blood around the eye holes, and a black wig from Angel Fancy Dress in Shaftesbury Avenue, central London.

Three days later he took a bus from his home in Wembley, northwest London, to Sehrish's workplace at the St George's International College in Balaam St, Plaistow, east London.

He arrived at 5.30pm and was immediately recognised by his victim despite wearing the disguise.

Mr Atkinson said: 'He said he was in the neighbourhood and thought he would come in to see her. He said he worked in a costume shop. She told him not to come to the school again.

'Ullah then asked if they were alone. He said: ''Great'' and pulled out the knife.'

Sehrish's colleague Kiran Asgha, who was two months' pregnant, was stabbed in the shoulder as the killer attacked.

She regained consciousness to see Ullah on top of Sehrish and ran from the reception to call police.

Officers arrived to find the victim lying on the floor with her trousers and underwear pulled down to her ankles.

Ullah was arrested and later claimed in interview that he pulled down her clothing to check she was still a virgin.

He said: 'She was afraid of my mentalness. She wanted to make a connection with me. She liked another boy in Pakistan. I wanted her at any cost. I cannot believe she got another man. I feel this is why I am evil.'

Ullah also wrote on a piece of paper: 'I knew her for two years and love her very much but she does not treat me even though she knows I love her.'

At the Old Bailey in March 2009 he pleaded guilty to manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility after psychiatrists agreed he was suffering from psychotic depression.

Judge Jeremy Roberts QC made an order under sections 37 and 41 of the Mental Health Act meaning he will not be released from hospital without the approval of the Secretary of State.

The judge said: 'You have done the most terrible thing here, taking away the life of a young girl who had given you absolutely no reason to do that.

'It is quite clear that you were seriously ill when you did this terrible thing. You do present a serious danger to any young woman who is nice to you such as Miss Sheikh was and you became fixated upon her.'

Sehrish's brother Yasir Waqar Sheikh said in a statement: 'How do you explain to someone how you feel when your loved one is taken from you forever, not by disease or accident, but by being executed in cold blood?

'It's everybody's worst nightmare. It felt like judgement day. That day changed our average hardworking family's lives.'

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