The murder trial of a TikTok star and seven others has been called off after a “jury irregularity”. A retrial will now take place in 2023.
Reporting restrictions limit what can be said about the reasons behind the decision. The eight defendants, including influencer Mahek Bukhari, 23, have been in custody since they were arrested in February and March of this year.
They are accused of killing Saqib Hussain and Hashim Ijazuddin who died in a crash on the A46. And on Friday, December 2 at Leicester Crown Court, judge Mr Justice Saini issued a statement which he said could be reported by media,
The statement read: “The discharge was by reason of jury irregularity. The irregularity had nothing to do with any conduct or alleged conduct of the defendants or the families or friends of Saqib Hussain or Hashim Ijazuddin, but was purely internal to the jury.
“There will be a re-trial before a fresh jury in the new year.” The defendants are set to face the same charges of murder and manslaughter, which they all deny, when the re-trial begins.
The eight defendants are: Natasha Akhtar, 22, of Alum Rock Road, Birmingham, Mahek Bukhari, 23, and Ansreen Bukhari, 47, both of George Eardley Close, Tunstall, Raees Jamal, 22, of Lingdale Close, Loughborough, Rekan Karwan, 28, of Tomlin Road, Northfields, Leicester, Mohammed Patel, 20, of Braybrooke Road, Northfields, Leicester, Sanaf Gulammustafa, 22, of Littlemore Close, Crown Hills, Leicester, and Ameer Jamal, 27, of Catherine Street, Belgrave, Leicester.
The case centres on Mahek’s mother’s former lover, Saqib Hussain, 21, who died alongside his friend Mohammed Hashim Ijazuddin on Friday, February 11, during a high-speed incident on the A46 near Six Hills, north of Leicester, in which he told police in a 999 call that he was being rammed off the road.
Earlier that evening, Mahek and her seven co-defendants had gone to meet Saqib outside the Tesco store in Hamilton, Leicester, because he was blackmailing Mahek’s mother. For some reason, when Saqib and Hashim arrived in the car park in the early hours they paused for a moment and then drove off, later crashing into a tree on the central reservation of the A46.
The prosecution claim the two young men saw they were being ambushed by the eight defendants – including some in balaclavas – and were chased up the A46 and rammed off the road. But Mahek today told the jury she did not want to hurt Saqib.
The jury at Leicester Crown Court has already heard the police interview of her co-accused Mohammed Patel, who described having a wheel brace from Mahek’s Audi TT to use as a weapon and wearing a balaclava to the meeting at Tesco. Mahek today told the jury she saw no one in balaclavas.
Patel said that when Mahek and her mother arrived at Leicester the wheel brace was removed from the boot of her car. But Mahek denied the boot had been opened.
She said: “I would have noticed if someone opened my boot.” Prosecutor Collingwood Thompson KC replied: “Well, that’s what happened.” She said: “Well I didn’t see anything at all.”
Mr Thompson accused her of not telling the truth. He said she knew Patel had a weapon. She replied: “My intention wasn’t to cause [Saqib] any harm or injury so why would we need weapons?”
When asked why the Skoda containing Saqib and Hashim was chased up the A46 and she said it was “not a pursuit”. Mr Thompson asked: “It’s perfectly obvious he didn’t want to stop, so what were you going to do?”
Mahek said she was on the phone to Saqib while they were “following” the Skoda and that she was trying to get Saqib to pull over somewhere else so they could talk, she said. She said Saqib was upset after seeing a man in the Audi TT with her mother and she was trying to calm him down.
She said: “I had a heated three-minute conversation with him. He’s mentioned he’s seen a man driving my car with my mum in the passenger and that basically got him triggered.
“He’s saying ‘your mum’s cheating on me’ and ‘I’m going to your house’. I was telling him, ‘Stop and talk, that’s the reason we’ve come to Leicester’. But he was refusing because he got triggered.
Mohammed Patel told Leicestershire Police he was not responsible for the murder of Saqib Hussain and his friend Mohammed Hashim Ijazuddin but said he was in the back of Mahek’s Audi and witnessed the crash.
In the videotaped interview a few weeks after the fatal collision on Friday, February 11, he described being asked by his friend and co-accused Raees Jamal to meet him at the home of another defendant, Rekan Karwan, in Tomlin Road, Leicester. Here he also met Mahek and her mother, Ansreen, and was given a wheel brace to use as a weapon.
The prosecution case is that Saqib had been threatening to release explicit pictures of Ansreen from their three-year affair – so Mahek and the others planned to ambush him and steal his phone to obtain the images. Patel told the police he did not know what was happening but knew they were all going to Tesco in Hamilton, Leicester, to meet with the two men.
Patel said he and Rekan Karwan left the Bukharis’ Audi TT and lay in wait near a stairwell for the two crash victims in Hashim’s Skoda Fabia. Patel said: “The Skoda has seen us two men stood at the stairwell, took off, quite quickly with the Seat Leon driving quite fast behind it.”
He described the Audi TT, being driven by Rekan Karwan, then following behind the other two cars and a phone conversation between Mahek, sitting next to him in the Audi, and Saqib in the Skoda Fabia. He said: “There’s a heated conversation going on between Mahek Bukhari and Saqib.”
He added: “I didn’t really follow what the situation was. I was under the influence of cannabis at the time.
“She says, ‘Watch what I do to you’. I don’t know what to do or how to get out of this situation.”
He said the Seat Leon then tried to stop the Skoda. He said: “The Seat Leon is now chasing the guy full on. Raees’s driving is very erratic.
“Now there’s a phone call to my phone to Mr Jamal’s phone. We’re not able to stop them from the Audi TT.”
Patel described holding his phone up to Rekan Karwan, who was speaking to Raees Jamal. He said the two drivers discussed ramming the Skoda. Patel said: “[Raees Jamal] says, ‘I’m going to try to stop the guy, I might have to ram him’. [Rekan] says, yeah, go on, ram him’.
Patel added: “After that Raees’s driving is very erratic and reckless, very reckless. He’s managed to get in front of the Skoda Fabia, swerving all over the place between both lanes. It’s like he’s not in control of the car.
“The Skoda guys push past and manage to get through. There’s a conversation between Rekan and Raees on my phone and Rekan says, ‘Ram him’.
“The Skoda’s in the middle of the two lanes, we’re at the back. [Raees Jamal] has clipped [the Skoda] on the rear driver’s side and he’s been like that two or three times. The Skoda manages to get back on the straight, but the third time he’s got him sideways, the car is literally being dragged across the A46, pushing him.
“You can clearly see the passenger and driver in the Skoda. Raees has kept in contact with him and he’s done a 180. And there is a violent blow to the passenger side front of the Skoda and this car’s gone flying over the central reservation.
“The Skoda’s trying to get out of it, turning the wheel left and right but it’s gone flying, flipped on its roof in the air. I think he hit the metal barrier and clipped onto one of the bollards.”
Patel then told the police officers he wanted to call 999 after the crash but was ordered by the others to keep his phone off. He said that in the days after the crash he “felt really bad” and was “traumatised by the situation”.
Saqib rang 999 from the passenger seat and a harrowing recording of the call was played in court. He told the Leicestershire Police call handler: “I’m being followed by two vehicles. They’re trying to block me in. They’ve got balaclavas on.
“They’re trying to ram me off the road. They’re trying to kill me. I’m going to die!”
The operator then asked him where he lived and he said he was from Banbury in Oxfordshire, adding: “I just came to Leicester to see one of my mates who goes to university here.”
Mahek and her mother were arrested just eight hours later at their home in Stoke on Trent. Mr Thompson said: “A way had to be found to silence Saqib – either by causing him a really serious injury to warn him or to silence him forever by killing him.
“The revelation of the affair could have ruined Asreen Bukhari’s marriage and damaged her reputation in her community. It could also have affected Mahek’s relationship with her father because she knew about the affair.
“Mahek was a social influencer and had a large number of followers on TikTok and the revelations of the affair might have been damaging to her standing with her followers.”
He described the events as a “story of love, obsession, anger, attempts at extortion and, ultimately, of murder”.