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Pregnant Woman Naila Mumtaz 'Killed By Evil Spirit'

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Members of Naila Mumtaz's family are facing murder charges at Birmingham Crown Court
Members of Naila Mumtaz's family are facing murder charges at Birmingham Crown Court

A pregnant 21-year-old died after being smothered and assaulted by family members who later claimed she may have been killed by an evil spirit, a jury has been told.

Birmingham Crown Court heard that Naila Mumtaz was pronounced dead in hospital in 2009 after the emergency services were called to her home in the Handsworth Wood area of the city.

Her husband, Mohammed Mumtaz, brother-in-law Hammad Hassan and Mr Mumtaz's parents, Salma Aslam and Zia Ul-Haq, deny charges of murder and manslaughter.

Opening the case against the defendants, prosecutor Christopher Hotten QC said Ms Mumtaz was found "ashen" and lying on a bed by ambulance staff in the early hours of 8 July, 2009.

Jurors heard that Ms Mumtaz, who came to Britain in May 2008 after an arranged marriage in Pakistan, was found apparently lifeless by paramedics who arrived at her home in Craythorne Avenue at about 4.30am.

During his opening speech, Mr Hotten said: "Efforts were made to revive her but they failed and at 5.05am she was pronounced dead and with her passing so ended the potential for the life of her unborn child.

"Was she or may she have been possessed by an evil spirit which took her life, as the defendants were to suggest both at the time and after her death?

"Did she die as a result of some undetected or unknown illness or will you be sure that, as we say, she was assaulted, smothered by these four defendants?"

Mr Hotten said the cultural context in which the young woman met her death was of importance to the case, and that a "framework" of telephone evidence would be put before the jury.

Jurors were told that numerous telephone calls were made to Ms Mumtaz's relatives in Pakistan, the emergency services and other individuals in the hours before she was taken to hospital.

During the calls, it is alleged that Ul-Haq claimed that a spirit had been sent from Pakistan, while a female at the house in Craythorne Avenue was allegedly heard to say "don't call an ambulance yet - we will cure her ourselves".

Mumtaz, 24, Ul-Haq, 51, Aslam, 51, and Hassan, 24, all of Craythorne Avenue, also deny causing or allowing the death of a vulnerable adult.

Part-way through Mr Hotten's opening speech, Mumtaz collapsed in the dock in a distressed state and the jury was sent home until Wednesday.