A TikTok influencer and her mother have been jailed for life with a minimum term of more than 31 years and 26 years respectively for ambushing and then murdering two men during a high-speed car chase.
YouTube and TikTok content creator Mahek Bukhari, 24, wiped away tears in the dock at Leicester Crown Court as she and her mother Ansreen Bukhari, 46, were on Friday sentenced for their involvement in the killing of Saqib Hussain and Mohammed Hashim Ijazuddin last February.
Fellow defendants Rekhan Karwan, 29, and Raees Jamal, 23, were also jailed for life with a minimum of 26 years and 10 months and 31 years respectively for two counts of murder – while Natasha Akhtar, 23, was jailed for 11 years and eight months, and Ameer Jamal, 28, and Sanaf Gulamustafa, 23, were jailed for 14 years and eight months and 14 years and nine months respectively for two counts of manslaughter.
Mr Hussain and Mr Ijazuddin, both 21, died when their car left the A46 dual carriageway near Leicester, with prosecutors saying during a three-month murder trial at Leicester Crown Court that they were deliberately rammed off the road.
The victims, from Banbury in Oxfordshire, were in a Skoda being chased by Audi and Seat vehicles containing the eight defendants.
Mahek was said to have taken part in the ambush after Mr Hussain threatened to use sexually-explicit material to expose a long-running affair he had been having with her mother, who was married.
The court was told Mr Ijazuddin’s Skoda Fabia “split in two” and caught fire after hitting a tree at the Six Hills junction in the early hours of February 11 last year.
The victims had to be identified by their dental records.
Mahek Bukhari and her mother, both of George Eardley Close, Tunstall, Stoke-on-Trent, had denied two counts of murder but were found guilty by a jury at the beginning of August after more than 28 hours of deliberations.
Prosecutors said Mr Hussain was “lured” into meeting with the Bukharis in the Tesco car park in Hamilton, Leicester, for “one last meeting” on the pretence of giving him back the £3,000 he said he had spent on taking his lover out during their tryst.
But Ansreen and Mahek arrived at the arranged meet-up along with the six others in two vehicles, an Audi TT and a Seat Leon.
Mr Hussain then arrived at the car park in a Skoda Fabia, being driven by his friend Mr Ijuzaddin, who had said he would take him to Leicester as a “favour”.
CCTV footage showed the Skoda Fabia arrive in the car park and then immediately leave, with the Audi TT and Seat Leon following the Skoda out of the car park two minutes later.
The cars then ultimately ended up in a chase, with analysis by forensic collision investigators showing the Audi had reached speeds of up to 100mph.
The speed of the Skoda at the time of the crash, which was not captured on CCTV, was estimated at being in excess of 80mph.
In a 999 call to police made by front-seat passenger Mr Hussain moments before his death, he said their car was being “rammed off the road” by balaclava-wearing assailants in two pursuing cars.
In a victim impact statement read out in court by prosecutor Collingwood Thompson KC, Mr Hussain’s dad Sajad, who was in court surrounded by family, described his son as his “pride and joy”.
He said: “The joy Saqib bought into our lives was immeasurable. His beautiful presence was a gift.
“He brought love and light into the lives of everyone who knew him. He was kind-hearted and selfless, and he was loved by all his friends and family and everyone who knew him.”
He described how Saqib’s mother fell to the floor “crying and screaming ‘my child, my child’”, when they were told by police their son had died.
Mr Ijazuddin’s father Sikander Hayat told the packed courtroom his family have been living a “never-ending nightmare that has shattered our lives”.
Looking at the defendants in the dock, he said: “Hashim was innocent. Totally innocent. One hundred per cent innocent.”
He added: “We are not the same and we have realised we never will be so carefree and happy again. My heart has been ripped out.
“Why did this happen to him? He did not know his murderers or what awaited him in that Tesco car park.
“We have lost our son in the worst possible way. The fear he must have felt in the moments leading up to his death. He was left with his friend to burn. It is heart-shattering.”
In mitigation for Mahek before sentencing, barrister Christopher Millington KC said his client was “somewhat immature” and had been left in an “invidious” position by her mother’s affair, but she had not intended the outcome of what happened.
He said: “She was driving an Audi which was a courtesy car that could be traced back to her.
“Neither Ansreen Bukhari or Mahek Bukhari wore anything covering their faces.
“The evidence does not establish an intent to kill.”
Mitigating for Ansreen, Patrick Upward KC said his client was a “respectable family woman” for many years.
He said: “She had been under pressure from Saqib. There were threats being made to express what had happened between them.
“On at least one occasion, Saqib did actually send a message to Ansreen’s husband inviting him to become a witness to what had been going on, but the message was deleted by Mahek.
“Ansreen deceived a lot of people – her husband, her son, her family, her friends and we have seen the heart-wrenching effect this has had on the family of the two young men.
“As a mature woman, as a mother, she knows the effect of what she has done. She will have to spend the rest of her life living in the shadow of her shame.”
Sentencing, Judge Timothy Spencer KC said Mahek Bukhari’s “tawdry fame” as a social media influencer had “made you utterly self – obsessed, with a wholly unjustified sense of entitlement, and no apparent awareness of the impact you have on others, oblivious to the damage you do”.
He said: “The prosecution were right to categorise this case as cold blooded murder.
“TikTok and Instagram are at the heart of this case, Mahek Bukhari being a social media influencer.
“That is the reason you, Mahek, dropped out of university. Had you not done so, you would now be a young graduate with your whole life ahead of you. Now, you constrain yourself to prison for all of your best years.
“It was the reason you, Ansreen Bukhari, became your daughter’s chaperone. It was the reason your head was turned towards the perceived glamour of promotions, shisha bar openings and the like – a world far removed from the life you lived until then as a mother and housewife.
“You fell for the advances of Saqib Hussain and you began your affair. It was an affair you came to regret and decided to end.
“That decision led to the deaths of Saqib Hussain and Mohammed Hashim Ijazuddin.
“Saqib Hussain was blackmailing you. He was volatile but I am quite sure, had you had a mature approach to ending your affair, he would have come to terms with it.
“Mohammed Hashim Ijazuddin was totally innocent in all of this. All he did was agree to give his friend a lift and he found himself sucked into a deadly maelstrom caused by all of you in the dock.
“By January 2022, you, Ansreen Bukhari, put matters into the hands of your daughter – what a calamitous decision.
“You, Mahek Bukhari, approached Rekhan Karwan as a go-between and you, Rekhan Karwan, brought in Raees Jamal. You both knew much more of the situation than you let on to the jury about the Bukhari troubles.
“There never was any money for Saqib Hussain at the meeting – it was a lie to lure him to this city.”