A Manchester husband killed his wife and buried her body at the side of a layby after believing she had become possessed by an evil spirit, a court heard yesterday.
Ahmed al-Khatib, 34, said he had visions of the demonic creature known as the ‘Jinn’ since he was 16 and had even undergone an exorcism carried out by an Imam.
But he believed the spirit which took four forms including a white rabbit and a ‘devil dog’ had ‘got inside’ mother of three Rania Alayed, 25.
In June last year she vanished after being allegedly lured to the flat of Al-Khatib’s brother in Salford.
Her body was allegedly hidden inside a suitcase bundled into the back of a motorhome then driven 87 miles to the A19 near Thirsk, North Yorks where it is believed her remains were buried. They have never been found.
Al-Khatib later claimed he had accidentally killed her during a row in which she stumbled and hit her head on a piece of furniture. He denies prosecution claims he murdered her because she had become ‘too Westernised’.
At Manchester Crown Court, Al-Khatib said: ”I still love her now. She is the only love for me. The only woman. She is my love and life, she is everything to me. If you think this court can give me punishment then I don’t think so.”
He claimed the ‘Jinn’ – a demonic spirit in Islamic folklore and mythology – had taken on the shapes of relatives, animals and ‘a devil’ – even leaving ‘fingermarks’ around his neck, and goaded him to commit suicide.
The exorcism occurred when he was still living in his native Syria when he was 21 and the spirit was ‘banished’ through his left foot.
”When I was 16 years old I was seeing shadows and things and hearing voices,” Al-Khatib told the jury.
“I couldn’t work from the ages of 17 to 21 and after that my dad took me to see an Imam – a religious man in our culture – because I was seeing the jinn and was talking to them and they were giving me orders and telling me to kill myself which I tried to do at the time.
“I was talking in my sleep because I was scared. The jinn would change in form. Sometimes it was a devil. He was very shiny with four hands and sharp teeth and blood coming from the teeth and very long hair.
“I still see it now. After I go to the Imam I didn’t see it for a long time but was still hearing the voices.
“Sometimes it would visit me at my home and sometimes it would go inside people and inside animals. About three times it went inside Rania.
“He is just inside Rania and she would look like him. If he goes inside dogs it will look like him. A devil dog with red teeth and blood coming out.
”When it goes inside her she has four hands and she can extend her hands, and red hair and very big eyes. I would leave the house and she would say ‘you need help’ so I would need to go out and come back and she would be back as my wife.
“The last time I saw her she said ‘you need medical help’.”
Earlier the court heard how the couple married in Syria when she was 16 and he was 23. They fled Damascas initially for Greece but emigrated to the UK in 2004 and after living in Stockton-on-Tees for five years moved to Manchester.
Al-Khatib said: ”It was a nice life between me and Rania at that time. We used to go to the seaside and We were happy. I was never violent to Rania. They said I was a drunk man. I don’t drink alcohol at all, I don’t even like the taste.
“We moved to Manchester when our third child was born because my mum and dad live there and I thought they could give us a hand with the kids.
“But when she went to college she changed and didn’t spend as much time with the family. She would spend more time in the mirror and on the phone on Facebook and Whatsapp. I wasn’t happy with it at all.
“I said you need to pay more attention to your children and your family. I was not happy like I had been before. Things had changed. I was happy because I loved her and wanted to see a smile on the face of her and the kids.
“Rania had plans to leave me. The first step was saying I was drunk but I never drank because of my religion. She said I was beating her.
”She said rape but how can I rape my wife? If I want to have sex with her and she said no then I would just wait until the next day.”
He claimed Rania concocted a ‘plan’ to leave him by saying she was consistently beaten and even raped by her husband.
On January 18 last year when Rania called police to their home in Longsight, Manchester, following an argument over messages on her phone to another man which suggested they had been having an affair.
She left with the children and sought refuge in a hostel, before taking out a harassment order on Al-Khatib. She later filed for divorce.
On February 18 last year, Al-Khatib was referred to a specialist mental health unit in Manchester by his GP after claiming the jinn had reappeared.
A statement read to the jury from the hospital described his suicidal thoughts, constant apparitions and ‘dishevelled’ appearance, but he was discharged after three days.
During his evidence, he said tablets provided by the hospital blocked out hallucinations of the jinn, but he was refused them once discharged and resorted to cannabis and banging his head to evade the thoughts.
Al-Khatib, of Gorton, Manchester, and his brother Muhaned, 38, are said to have transferred Rania’s body from Muhaned’s flat to a motorhome before driving to the A19 near Thirsk in North Yorkshire where she was buried by the roadside.
Al-Khatib and Muhaned deny murder but admit perverting the course of justice. A third brother, Hussain Al-Khatib, 34, has pleaded not guilty to perverting the course of justice over the alleged concealment of her body.
The trial continues.