London: A court was informed on Tuesday that 10-year-old Sara Sharif suffered a “constellation” of injuries, culminating in her untimely death.
Sara’s father Urfan Sharif, aged 41, her stepmother Beinash Batool, 29, and her uncle Faisal Malik, 28, made their appearance at the Old Bailey in London on Tuesday following their return from Pakistan on Sept 13, when they were apprehended at Gatwick Airport.
The trio will face a six-week trial for her murder next year, with a date provisionally set for Sept 2, 2024. A plea hearing will take place on Dec 1. The charges against them include the murder of Sara and causing or permitting the death of a child.
Urfan Sharif, accompanied by Batool, and his brother, Malik, fled the United Kingdom to Pakistan just one day before Sara’s lifeless body was discovered in Woking, Surrey, on Aug 10.
In court, Surrey police unveiled the discovery of Sara’s lifeless body after receiving a phone call from Pakistan that lasted eight minutes and 34 seconds, timestamped at 2:47am on Aug 10. According to reports, the trio had booked their flight to Pakistan two days earlier, on Aug 8.
Upon officers’ arrival at the Sharif family residence, Sara was found lying on her back, fully clothed under a blanket in an upstairs bunk bed. Her identity was confirmed through DNA analysis, comparing her genetic profile to that of her mother, Olga Sharif, residing in Somerset, as well as another relative.
Prosecutor Giles Bedloe informed the court that Sara’s injuries included a healed collarbone fracture, a healed hyoid bone fracture in her neck, multiple rib fractures, extensive bruising across her torso and limbs, and a brain haemorrhage.
A hyoid bone fracture is a rare occurrence and is usually the result of direct trauma to the neck because of strangulation, hanging or blunt trauma.
Mr Bedloe asserted: “It follows Sara had been subjected to multiple events of violence over a sustained period of time that must have culminated in her death. There is quite a significant amount of post-mortem work ongoing and that will continue.”
Appearing via video-link from Belmarsh high-security jail in south London and Bronzefield women’s prison in Surrey, Sharif, Batool, and Malik only confirmed their identities and birthdates before the court scheduled their case timetable.
Judge Mark Lucraft KC, the Recorder of London, revealed that a decision regarding whether the trial should be heard by a high court judge would be made later.
All three defendants have been remanded into custody pending their next hearing.