A “manipulative” predator who killed two women and hid their bodies in a freezer has been given a life sentence with a minimum term of 38 years.
Zahid Younis had subjected both victims to “very significant violence” in the days before he killed them.
The body of one of the women, Henriett Szucs, was hidden in the small, padlocked chest freezer for almost three years before it was found by police in the 36-year-old killer’s flat in east London in April 2019.
The second victim, mother-of-three Mihrican Mustafa, 38, had not been seen since May 2018.
Both women were described by prosecutor Duncan Penny QC as “vulnerable”.
He said they had been living “somewhat chaotic lives” and had been homeless for a time.
The two victims had also struggled with addiction to class-A drugs.
They were, the prosecution said, easily manipulated by a man who had a history of preying on the vulnerable.
Younis showed no emotion as the verdicts were read out, while members of Ms Mustaga’s large family, who attended every day of the three-week trial, said “yes” in the public gallery.
Her older sister, Mel Mustafa, said: “Thank you God, thank you.”
In a statement, Ms Mustafa’s family, who called her Jan, said her death has “changed our family forever” as they said she was a “fantastic mother” who “never said anything bad about anybody…an angel”.
They said they never stopped looking for her and when she did not appear at her daughter’s 11th birthday, her daughter wrote that she sat in the corner “crying my eyes out looking at your pictures and reading your poems while in my head screaming, ‘where are you! Please mum, come back home'”.
A statement written on behalf of Ms Szucs’ mother, Maria, said her murder was made even harder by it being in a country she does not know the law or court processes.
She lost touch with her daughter when she came to the UK which “only exacerbates her grief” and the fact she lay in a freezer for so long without anybody looking for her “torments Maria on a daily basis”, as well as the fact she has not been able to see her body or lay her to rest, it said.
Police had been searching Younis’ home after he was reported missing, when they discovered the women’s remains in the freezer.
After officers noticed a strong smell and saw flies clustered around the appliance, they prised it open with a crow bar to find a large frozen shape and a foot in a grey Superman sock – which were the remains of Ms Mustafa, wrapped in a bed sheet and plastic.
The freezer was taken to a mortuary where it was X-rayed, revealing the body of another woman – Ms Szucs – who was wearing pyjamas and wrapped in a sleeping bag then plastic, which was the packaging the freezer came in.
The condition of the bodies meant it was difficult to fully examine them, but post mortems revealed the women had sustained significant injuries, with more than 50 internal and external wounds, including numerous rib fractures.
Ms Szucs had suffered severe head injuries, while Ms Mustafa’s sternum and larynx had been fractured.
Detective Chief Inspector Simon Harding, the senior investigating officer on the case, said Younis was “an incredibly dangerous individual” who was both “manipulative and violent”.
“We have seen throughout this trial that he is incredibly violent to women he has formed relationships with.
“Part of his pattern is to target vulnerable women who lead chaotic lifestyles.”
The two women were known to have associated with Younis in the weeks leading up to their disappearance and personal possessions belonging to the pair were found inside his flat.
Traces of Ms Szucs’ blood were found on the carpet inside the property and fingerprints belonging to Ms Mustafa were found on the oven.
At his trial, Younis outlined an elaborate set of events he claimed explained why he was innocent of murder.
He told the jury he came home one day and found Ms Szucs dead on his sofa. He claimed he panicked and hid her body in a newly purchased freezer, with the help of a local criminal.
He then testified that the same criminal and another man brought the body of Ms Mustafa to his home in May 2018 and demanded he hide that body in the freezer as well.
But the jury was told that one of the men the defendant claimed had been involved was in prison at the time of the alleged events.
The court heard how Younis bought the £169.99 freezer in cash from Curry’s in Beckton on the afternoon he killed Ms Szucs “for the sole purpose” of concealing her body.
The murder trial heard how Younis was a registered sex offender, jailed twice previously for sexual activity with a child and for violence against a separate teenage girl after he was released from jail the first time.
He was jailed the first time after he married a 14-year-old girl in an Islamic ceremony at a mosque in Walthamstow, east London, in 2004.
While in prison in 2018 his electricity supply was disconnected, contributing to the decomposition of the bodies and causing a foul smell.
An electricity engineer attended on 11 April 2019 to clear the debt on the meter, next to the freezer, and noticed the bad smell, which Younis tried to mask with air freshener spray.
Shortly after, Younis abandoned the property and made off before being arrested on 30 April in Kensington, west London, getting into a taxi when he told officers: “It’s my house, it’s my problem. No one else is involved.”
Some of his former victims gave evidence in the case.
DCI Harding said: “His life is littered with lies and manipulation of people.
“His story of finding the body of Henriett and then denying that he was in a relationship with her was shown to be a lie, after letters pointing to that relationship were found in the flat.”
The senior detective said Younis had shown absolutely no remorse.
“All his previous convictions show his violent and abusive behaviour towards women,” DCI Harding added.
“He broke one woman’s arm in three places. And some of these women came to court to give evidence and showed incredible bravery in reliving those events.”
In his defence,Younis said Ms Szucs had been “obsessed” with him and that out of goodness, he would feed her when she came to visit him.
But the jury at Southwark Crown Court did not believe those assertions, finding him guilty of murdering both women.
Younis had already admitted two charges of preventing the lawful and decent burial of a dead body.