Their victim, Awais Akram, was transformed from a normal 25-year-old into “a cross between a zombie from a horror movie and the Incredible Hulk”. He was left with life-threatening burns and his flesh hanging off his body, the court heard. He needed major surgery, including amputation of both ears, loss of his right eye, a corneal transplant to save his left eye and two months of hospital treatment in intensive care.
But Mr Akram survived and bravely entered the witness box, protected from the sight of the dock by a curtain, to give evidence against the men who had attacked him in July last year. In a harrowing moment the trial had to be stopped when he broke down, screaming and wailing, at having to recount his horrendous ordeal. Danish-born Mr Akram was targeted because an “intimate” relationship he had been having with Sadia Khatoon was discovered by her husband and family.
The liaisons had started on their Facebook sites and led to a series of meetings in her car and at her house. Khatoon was then forced to betray him by luring him into “a deadly trap” in Leytonstone where he was set upon in the early hours of the morning. Mr Akram was stabbed and beaten as well as having sulphuric acid poured on him inflicting 47% burns as the thugs shouted “Sadia.”. One of the attackers held the acid bottle over Mr Akram’s mouth in an unsuccessful attempt to make him swallow the chemical.
Nevertheless he was unable to speak or communicate for three months and it was not until November he was able to make a statement and tell police what had happened to him. Today a jury found Khatoon’s brother Mohammed Vakas, 26, guilty of conspiracy to murder and her cousin Mohammed Adeel, 20, and a 17-year-old youth guilty of plotting grievous bodily harm with intent.
They will be sentenced later by the Common Serjeant of London Brian Barker QC. Both Khatoon and her husband Shakeel Abassi were named on the indictment as co-conspirators in the murder plot but have fled to Pakistan. During the trial Mr Akram, still badly scarred over the back and sides of his head, told the jury how he had met Khatoon “nearly every day” but he insisted their relationship extended only to “kissing and touching” although he believed she wanted them to have sex.
During this period Mr Akram went to Pakistan in May last year to get married to another woman. But he remained in touch with Khatoon who convinced him to return to Britain on the promise that she would secure him a job and a flat and paid for his plane ticket. On the night of the attack Khatoon had called him to tell him to go to an internet cafe on High Road in Leytonstone so they could communicate over the internet.
He was initially reluctant to go “but I felt what difference would it make if I go and see?”. Mobile phone records show that while he was providing a “running commentary” to her of where he was, she was with her husband at a hotel in Windsor, Berkshire directing the attackers to intercept him. A witness who saw him after the attack staggering around the street described him as looking like “a cross between a zombie from a horror movie and the Incredible Hulk.”
Outside court DCI Nigel Furness paid tribute to “an incredible young man.” “We didn’t expect him to survive but he came back within a year to court and gave evidence against hose who attacked him. He is very courageous with immense strength of character.”