A husband who murdered his wife by deliberately setting her on fire after they had an argument at their Birmingham home has been jailed for life.
Muhammad Hammad tried to cover up what he had done by claiming care worker Nazia Akhtar had set light to herself and said he had made a valiant attempt to save her.
But a jury at Birmingham Crown Court rejected his account and convicted him of murder.
Judge Melbourne Inman QC ordered that Hammad spend a minimum of 25 years in prison before being considered for release.
He said: “Nazia was only 31 when she died.
“She had much of her adult life before her.
“She enjoyed life and her work as a care assistant.
“She had a loving family whose lives have been shattered by the loss of a much loved daughter and sister and I have read moving statements from her family.
“At about 9.30pm on April 25 last year you and Nazir were a home together at the flat where you lived.
“You deliberately threw a significant quantity of white spirit over Nazir’s clothes and then deliberately set fire to her clothes with a naked flame.
“The effect on her was that Nazir was very quickly engulfed in flames with her upper body becoming a fireball.”
The judge said Hammad had given an account of having tried to help his wife and then becoming alight himself.
But he said the defendant had, in fact, poured the spirit over his own head and set it alight in a bid to make it look like it had been a “terrible accident that engulfed you both.”
He went on “It is difficult to think of a more wicked attempt to conceal a crime.”
The judge continued: “Nazir suffered terribly before she died.
“She suffered full thickness burns to 60 per cent of her body.
“Because of her suffering she was placed in a coma for most of the two months before she died.”
Judge Inman said, though, that he accepted that it had not been a planned attack.
Hammad, 30, had denied the charge
The court had heard the couple had met in 2013 and married in an Islamic ceremony in September 2014.
Hammad moved into her first floor flat in Fox Hollies Road, Acocks Green.
They had a volatile relationship with most of the arguments centring on the fact that Mrs Akhtar’s family did not like the defendant and he did not like them.
James Curtis QC, prosecuting, said the biggest bone of contention and a “running sore” was Hammad’s relationship with his mother-in-law.
Nazia had also threatened to throw her husband out as well as begin divorce proceedings which would have scuppered his chances of getting a British visa.
She said that on the day of the fire they had rowed about their marriage being over and he had called her a “fat ugly cow.”
After the incident both were taken to hospital and the victim had initially claimed what happened was an accident.
However her account changed and she began to tell people what had really occurred.