In an ongoing murder trial of an uncle accused of abducting, raping and murdering his niece before stuffing her body into a deep freezer at a house in London, the court at the Old Bailey has heard how he researched the crimes and methods of John George Haigh, a serial killer from post-war Britain who dissolved his victims’ bodies in acid gaining the moniker of the ‘Acid-Bath Murderer’,
33-year-old builder Mujahid Arshid is accused of abducting his niece, 20-year-old Celine Dookhran who was living at his home, and her friend, also in her 20s, who has not been named for legal reasons, on 19 July 2016. With the help of an accomplice, 28-year-old Vincent Tappu, both women are believed to have been tasered by the men who were wearing black balaclavas and gloves before being gagged and tied up and thrown into the back of a truck. Arshid is said by prosecutors to have been sexually obsessed with his niece.
Celine Dookhran was a stunning aspiring make-up artist living in London with her family. Her relationship with an Arab Muslim is said to have caused tension and friction amongst her family, prompting her to move in with her uncle and his wife shortly before the murder. In the days before the attack, her family had met with her including her uncle to try to persuade her to end her relationship. Police believe the idea of Celine being with someone else, and someone not approved of, may have triggered the ‘sexually fixated’ Mujahid Arshid.
After reports of a harrowing and terrifying attack from the unnamed second victim who managed to escape, police found the body of Celine Dookhran locked inside a freezer in a six-bedroom house in Kingston, south-west London. In police interviews, the woman reported that upon arrival at the house, Celine Dookhran was taken upstairs by Arshid and as she remained tied up and helpless the woman could hear the terrified screams of her friend.
Taken back downstairs and into the utility room where a large freezer had been placed, Arshid allegedly ordered Dookhran to climb inside the freezer with the original intention of locking her inside alive and letting her freeze to death. He changed his mind, however, and let her climb out. The second victim had also been ordered to climb inside the freezer but she refused, prompting a cold and chilling response from her attacker BBC News reports:
“I’m this close to slitting your wrist and getting this rope and tying it round your neck and just killing you here right now.”
Both women were raped and attacked with a knife, with Celine Dookhran’s throat being slit before her body was left inside the freezer locked from the outside. After she realised her friend had been murdered, the woman, covered in slashes and cuts from Arshid’s knife, began to beg for her life pleading with him that “we can run away together, we can be happy together, we can have a family,” allowing her to escape Sky News reports. At the hospital, she reported the crime and gave police information about the house she was held in and where her friend’s body still lay.
Mujahid Arshid fled London once he realised his second victim had escaped and he was tracked down and arrested in a Holiday Inn in Folkestone, Kent. It is alleged that Tappu helped Arshid kidnap both women and take them to the empty property but was not involved in the abuse and murder that took place inside the house.
Mujahid Arshid is facing charges of kidnapping, murder, attempted murder, rape and possession of an unlawful weapon. He is also charged with sexual assault for historic abuse of the woman he tried to kill when she was a young teenager between 2008 and 2010, BBC News reports. Vincent Tappu is charged with kidnapping and possession of an unlawful weapon. Both men deny all charges against them.
At his trial at the Old Bailey in London, Arshid has claimed that it was the second victim who murdered Celine Dookhran and suggested her body was put in the freezer. He claims both women went to the house with him willingly and had consensual sex with him. In court, Arshid’s defense barrister launched a scathing cross-examination of the unnamed second alleged victim who was testifying behind a screen.
She put to her that she had in fact discovered Arshid and Celine downstairs after they had sex, telling her, “You were upset and jealous at what you saw and you started to shout abuse,” before accusing her of killing Celine with a knife while Arshid was out of the room. Further, she told her, ‘You weren’t kidnapped, you weren’t raped, you weren’t sexually molested. You were responsible for Celine’s injuries and your injuries,’ according to reports in the Daily Mail.
In what prosecutors are calling an attack that was ‘planned for weeks’, they have presented evidence to the court of the internet search history discovered on Arshid’s laptop after his arrest. Searches included ‘acid-bath murderer’ and ‘can a person freeze to death’, according to the Guardian. Prosecutors said, “To that end he considered either putting them in acid or else concealing them in a deep freezer,” referring to the methods of John George Haigh as providing inspiration.
John George Haigh was a devious conman who is believed to have been responsible for the murders of six people between 1944 and 1949 in England. Despite the nickname given to him by the media during his trial, Haigh did not use any ‘bath’ to dispose of his victims but did use drums of sulphuric acid to get rid of his victim’s remains. Haigh was convicted of murder and executed in 1949.