Muhammed Shafi jailed for Bracknell underpass pliers murder

Muhammed Shafi - Police picture
Image caption Muhammed Shafi had denied murdering Tuanjai Sprengel

A man who stabbed his girlfriend before beating her to death with a pair of pliers has been found guilty of murder.

Muhammed Shafi, 28, from Bracknell in Berkshire, had denied murdering mother-of-one Tuanjai Sprengel, 43, but did admit causing her death.

But the Reading Crown Court jury found Shafi guilty of murder and he was given a life sentence and told he would serve a minimum of 23 years.

Ms Sprengel was found by passers-by in Bracknell subway on 27 May.

The court heard the couple began a relationship after meeting in 2011 and on New Year's Eve married in an Islamic ceremony.

They attempted to register their marriage with Southwark Council before Pakistani-born Shafi's student visa expired.

But they were delayed by documentation problems relating to Thai-born Ms Sprengel's earlier divorce, the jury heard.

Shafi was granted an extension on the grounds of the couple's serious relationship.

On the night of her death, Ms Sprengel confided to a woman at a betting shop in Bracknell that Shafi was jealous and controlling and stopped her from working, the court heard.

Shafi and Ms Sprengel were estimated to have lost £1,000 on roulette machines before they were captured on CCTV walking into the subway. Shafi was seen returning without her.

Image caption Tuanjai Sprengel's body was discovered by passer-bys at an underpass

Police said it appeared that Shafi was attempting to use his relationship with Ms Sprengel to remain in the UK but at the time of her death she was still legally married to her German husband.

After the verdict, Det Ch Insp Steve Tolmie said Ms Sprengel had suffered "a very violent and pointless death".

Baljit Ubhey, chief crown prosecutor, said: "This was a particularly brutal and savage attack, which led to the untimely death of Tuanjai Sprengel, a woman who had made a new life for herself here in the UK."

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