Glasgow & West Scotland

Murderers Fazli Rahim and Saima Gul have jail terms cut

Fazli Rahim
Image caption Fazli Rahim had his minimum jail term reduced from 23 years to 19 years

A married couple who almost decapitated a man in front of a 12-year-old girl have had their minimum sentences reduced by appeal judges.

Fazli Rahim, 42, and 31-year-old Saima Gul were jailed for life and told to serve at least 23 years for murdering Mohammed Noor in Glasgow in May 2012.

At the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh, Lord Drummond Young ruled that the sentences were too severe.

Rahim can now apply for parole after 19 years and Gul after 17 years.

The court heard that Gul, from the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan, was 16 years old when she and Rahim went through an arranged marriage.

Bigamous marriage

Gul was pregnant when she remained with Rahim's family, while he used false documents to travel to the UK to look for work in 1999.

By the time she joined her husband in 2008, Rahim had fathered four children after a bigamous marriage to a Scottish woman.

Gul was sent to live with Mr Noor and had a child by him.

She later claimed her had raped and abused her and that he beat her with his hands and with wire.

She went to a police station the day before the murder to complain that Mr Noor had been harassing her.

The court heard that officers escorted her home and told Mr Noor to stay away from her.

On 5 May 2012, Rahim and Gul carried out the brutal attack on Mr Noor at a flat in Glasgow's Pollok area.

The couple's trial at the High Court in Glasgow heard how the murder was witnessed by a 12-year-old girl.

Giving evidence by CCTV link, she described Mr Noor screaming with Gul and Rahim on top of him.

She told how the two attackers sent her to the kitchen for a knife - then ordered her to get a bigger blade.

The girl was also made to bring a hammer which was used to strike Mr Noor on the head.

Rape claim

A jury heard 22 days of evidence and speeches - then rejected Rahim's claim that he was merely a spectator while Gul carried out the fatal hammer and knife attack.

They also rejected Gul's story that Mr Noor had tried to rape her and her husband had intervened.

Sentencing the pair, temporary judge Michael O'Grady QC said he was "extremely sceptical" about the claim that this had led to the fatal confrontation.

During the appeal hearing, however, lawyers for the couple protested that the trial judge had paid too much attention to factors which were irrelevant before deciding his sentence.

Judge O'Grady said Gul showed no sign of remorse during the evidence.

But defence advocate Claire Mitchell said she had been told by her lawyers not to react.

Ms Mitchell also argued that the jury's guilty verdict did not mean the trial judge could reject everything Gul said about being abused by Mr Noor.

Defence QC Gordon Jackson said Rahim had no significant criminal record.

He had been good friends with Mr Noor and it was not clear how much he knew about the relationship between his wife and his friend.

'Cultural factors'

Mr Jackson said judge O'Grady had not taken the background adequately into account.

Lord Drummond Young, sitting with Lord Philip, agreed that the trial judge had attached "excessive significance" to some factors.

The appeal judges said Rahim and Gul came from a society which was very different from Glasgow.

"We think some weight should be given to cultural factors," said Lord Drummond Young.

There had also been a "highly unusual" relationship between the two and their victim but judge O'Grady did not attach significant weight to this.

Lord Drummond Young continued: "We think the judge attached too much significance to the absence of reaction of the appellants during the trial."

He also said the trial judge was wrong in not taking into account Gul's account of abuse.

Even though the evidence was very unsatisfactory she had been forced to live with Mr Noor and had had a child by him.

The appeal judges also compared the punishment with the sentences handed down in other murder cases.

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