Jury will see video of woman burned alive
A jury in a murder trial in the High Court at Auckland is to see security video footage of a woman being burned alive at the service station where she worked.
"When you see the tape, you will see a murder being committed," Crown prosecutor Aaron Perkins said in his opening address yesterday.
Ahmad Riyaz Khan, aged 23 of Mangere, is accused of murder by setting fire to his former girlfriend Gulshad Banu Hussein at the Shell service station in Atkinson Ave, Otahuhu, in August last year after she said she did not want anything more to do with him.
It is alleged that as the 23-year-old woman tried desperately to escape, Khan poured a litre bottle of lighter fluid over her head, shoulders and upper body before setting her ablaze with a cigarette lighter.
Mr Perkins told the jury that Ms Hussein "erupted in what can only be described as a fireball".
"She died a horrible death while this young man simply watched on."
Mr Perkins said that Khan, a car groomer, fell for the attractive, hard-working, ambitious woman and they started seeing each other about a month before her death.
But Mr Perkins said that the relationship soured and Ms Hussein made it clear she wanted nothing more to do with Khan.
However, Khan was obsessive and refused to accept that it was over.
Ms Hussein was said to be scared of Khan who on one occasion allegedly hid near the service station where she was the manager and chased her when she left.
She was advised to take out a trespass notice against him.
Khan allegedly told a witness he was going to "blow up" the service station.
Mr Perkins said that the killing was captured by service station security cameras as the drama unfolded over two minutes.
He said that Khan was seen wrestling Ms Hussein to the corner of the shop where the flammable liquids were displayed.
Three times she managed to break free and ran to the door, which Khan had allegedly closed.
"Each time she breaks free and runs for the door, she is caught and each time she is taken back to the corner where the flammable liquids are," Mr Perkins told the jury.
He said Ms Hussein was brutally dragged by the hair.
The video would show a young woman in a "complete state of panic" desperate to get away.
A taxi driver saw her banging on the door, screaming for help, but instead of intervening, left to get the police.
Mr Perkins said that the jury would see a "flash of light" on the videotape behind the counter and within a fraction of a second Ms Hussein turned into a ball of flame.
Khan, who Mr Perkins said was standing directly alongside her, scrambled over the counter, his own hand and arm in flames.
Despite her upper body being engulfed in flame, Ms Hussein managed to crawl towards the door and out into the forecourt where she tried to turn on a tap.
Mr Perkins said that passersby tried to douse the flames with wet clothing before one of them turned a fire extinguisher on the stricken woman.
Ms Hussein died on the forecourt where she fell.
Witnesses would say that Khan did nothing to help but instead complained that he, too, had been burned.
One would say that Khan denied knowing Ms Hussein and that he said he had tried to save her.
He allegedly gave various explanations of what happened. He said that an LPG cylinder exploded, something the Crown said did not happen.
He also claimed that Ms Hussein was having problems with her parents and her old boyfriend and "blew herself up".
Mr Perkins said the jury might prefer not to think that someone could commit such an awful crime against another human being, but not everyone thought as they did.
The trial before Justice Marion Frater is expected to last two to three weeks.