Man who said devil told him to kill his sister detained under Mental Health Act

A former high-flying auditor who said the devil told him to execute his sister has been detained under the Mental Health Act after psychiatrists said the killing was “entirely attributable to the defendant’s mental illness”.

Khalid Ashraf, 32, strangled his older sister Sarah Ashraf in his flat in East Ferry Road, Docklands, East London, on January 5 2019 following a “fierce struggle” after hearing a voice tell him to “do the right thing”.

Ashraf (pictured), who has paranoid schizophrenia, was arrested by police when concerned neighbours spotted blood stains outside the flat and raised the alarm.

Ashraf, originally from Pakistan, was arrested on suspicion of murder and later told police: “Satan asked me to murder her.”

He pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility at a previous hearing, and was sentenced at the Old Bailey on Wednesday to an indeterminate hospital order under the Mental Health Act.

Outlining the case, prosecutor James Mulholland QC said Ashraf had worked as an auditor for KPMG for eight years but had stopped working there in October 2018.

The court heard Ashraf, a non-practising homosexual, was diagnosed HIV positive in 2011 which led to depression.

Mr Mulholland said 35-year-old Ms Ashraf had visited her brother’s flat to help him prepare to move out, having been a “mother figure” in his life.

But the court heard Ms Ashraf’s boyfriend Fareed Ahmed received a call from her phone via WhatsApp later that afternoon which caused concern.

The prosecutor said: “When he picked it up, he heard crying.

“The call lasted seven seconds before disconnecting.

“He called her straight back but she did not answer.

“He then sent messages via WhatsApp … She did not respond.

“Later on that afternoon, he sent her further texts including one at 5.52pm saying: ‘Where are you? I’m in Crossharbour’.

“There was no reply and it is clear that, by then, Ms Ashraf had been dead several hours.”

Police called at Ashraf’s flat later that evening, where the defendant said he had been in a fight.

But officers found the victim’s prone body lying on the bed and arrested the tenant on suspicion of murder.

He told police he became angry because he felt his sister was “keeping something” from him, and choked her to death.

He told police: “I felt like I was on autopilot.

“I felt as if we were both being controlled and it had to happen.

“I strangled her and I felt I was doing the right thing.

“I realised that I had killed her and I then heard a voice saying that she would be alright by tomorrow.”

Mr Mulholland said Ashraf later told police he remembered the whole incident and that he had killed his sister, stating: “Satan whispers into people’s ears and he used manipulation and lies to commit acts.”

A psychiatric report said Ashraf was “suffering from an abnormality of mental functioning” at the time of his sister’s death, and found the killing was “entirely attributable to the defendant’s mental illness”.

The report said his culpability for the killing was “very low”.

Judge Richard Marks QC said: “This is obviously an extremely tragic case.”

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