A “manipulative and overbearing” man will spend at least 26 years in prison for murdering his estranged wife in her own home.

Barking and Dagenham Post: Nazia Begum Ali. Picture: Met PoliceNazia Begum Ali. Picture: Met Police (Image: Met Police)

Mohammed Anhar Ali could not accept his marriage to Nazia Begum Ali had irretrievably broken down, so waited for their two young daughters to go to bed before springing from a cupboard where he had been hiding to ambush Mrs Ali.

His murder trial at the Old Bailey heard 25-year-old Mrs Ali was a Muslim but wanted her girls and herself to live a more Western lifestyle - rejecting devout Muslim Ali’s strict rules on how she had to behave.

Jurors were told Ali, 32, had spent around 10 hours hiding in a cupboard having let himself into Mrs Ali’s flat in Ellesmere Road, Bow, when she and the children were out before pouncing on his wife, punching her several times and strangling her with a scarf.

Bloodied, he then got into bed to sleep next to his children, only alerting the police the next morning - when he greeted them holding a cup of tea.

His daughters - now six and three - have “failed to grasp the finality” of their mother’s death, the court heard, with the youngest one regularly going “looking for her”, while the older child “blames herself” for not waking up during the attack.

Sentencing Ali, of Blake Avenue, Barking, Her Honour Judge Wendy Joseph QC said: “Ali was a strict Muslim and required of her a lifestyle that she found intolerable.

“He could not accept this was, sadly, a bad marriage.

“There was evidence of his being manipulating and overbearing towards Nazia.

“His conduct was fuelled by a failure to accept that Nazia was entitled to leave him, entitled to divorce him, and entitled to live her own life.

“With tragic consequences, he took things into his own hands.”

The couple met soon after Ali arrived in the UK as a student. Mrs Ali became pregnant shortly after marriage, but the relationship broke down with the defendant claiming she “needed to be exorcised”.

The court heard Ali moved out, but “pumped (his children) for information” when he discovered his wife was in a new relationship with a childhood sweetheart.

It was during one such contact session with his children in October 2018 - at the victim’s mother’s house - that Mrs Ali told her husband their relationship was finally over.

After spending all night “festering” on wild accusations about his wife, Ali bought items including two knives, a scarf, some flex, a door handle and screws - the latter so he could fix them to the inside of a cupboard in his victim’s flat to help secrete himself upon her return.

The court heard Mrs Ali bathed, fed and played with her children before putting them to bed on October 21. It was then that Ali - who had been lying in wait since around 1pm - sprung from the cupboard and attacked her.

She was found with multiple injuries to her head and ribs where he had punched her, then left her dead in her own blood after tying a scarf around her.

Ali then slept at the flat before phoning the police at 5am the next day. He admitted killing his wife but denied murder.

Reading a victim impact statement from Mrs Ali’s mother Janahara Begum, on behalf of the family, prosecutor Sarah Whitehouse QC said: “The day Nazia died was the worst day of our lives. Our hearts are broken beyond repair.

“How do I explain to a three-year-old that her mother has been murdered? They will never feel her comfort again.

“Every day when they ask me when their mother will come back from Heaven, my heart breaks even more.”

In mitigation, defence counsel Bernard Richmond QC said the couple’s relationship was “doomed from the start”.

He added: “(Ali) was a naive young man with a plainly fixed attitude of what to expect of a wife.”

Ali showed no emotion as he was sentenced to life imprisonment, to serve a minimum term of 26 years - less time spent on remand - before being considered eligible for parole.

He turned briefly to acknowledge a relative in the public gallery before being led from the dock to begin the jail term.