Tunisian asylum-seeker who nearly beheaded British Indian girlfriend detained in psychiatric hospital

LONDON: A Tunisian asylum-seeker has been detained indefinitely at Broadmoor high-security psychiatric hospital after killing and nearly beheading his 19-year-old British Indian student girlfriend, Sabita Thanwani, at her London university hall of residence.
The Old Bailey heard that Maher Maaroufe (24) killed Thanwani on March 19, 2022 in her room at Arbour House, near City University, where she was an undergraduate student reading psychology, with a bright future ahead of her.
In a psychotic episode, Maaroufe, who sometimes smoked 10 pounds of cannabis a day, “thought she was the male devil”. He “almost beheaded her”, according to Louis Mubly, prosecuting.
On the night of the killing Maaroufe had gone to a mosque. A book in Arabic on “how to expel demons” was found at the scene when police discovered Thanwani’s body with a deep wound across her neck among 31 injuries inflicted with a razor blade.
A female student next door was woken by Thanwani screaming “I beg you, don’t kill me” at 5 am. She rang 999.
Maaroufe left the room wearing a balaclava and passed the police responding to the 999 call. He was found the next day hiding in a garden shed dressed in women’s clothes. He had stolen Thanwani’s phone and credit card and head-butted a police officer trying to arrest him.
On June 30, 2023 he pleaded guilty to manslaughter with diminished responsibility, as well as to assaulting a police officer.
Maaroufe arrived in the UK aged 15, overstayed his visa and later applied for asylum, which is still pending.
Psychiatrists told the court that Maaroufe had been hearing voices, thought that the TV was including him in programmes and thought he was in “the afterlife” and had “lost touch with reality at the time of the killing.”
Judge Nigel Lickley, sentencing him to an indefinite hospital order on Monday, said the main driver of the killing was Maaroufe’s schizoaffective disorder. “Without the illness you would not have killed Sabita,” he said.
But in a statement outside court the Thanwani family said they are disappointed and let down by the judgment. Her parents, Manoj andRheea, live in Dubai and Rheea is an Indian national. “There is no doubt whatsoever in our minds that this was a premeditated, cold-blooded murder,” the statement said, adding, “The murderer was well known as a violent, jealous, controlling man, influenced by religious extremism. He brutally murdered our beloved, beautiful Sabita.”
“It beggars belief that the murderer, who was illegal in the UK, was not only arrested by the police prior to the murder, but he was imprisoned multiple times… If immigration was informed and did not take action, it is culpable. Had the immigration process followed through, as it should have, this man would not have been in the UK to commit the vicious and merciless murder of Sabita,” the family said.
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