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The grieving family of a mother whose body was found in a padlocked freezer believe she may still be alive today if police had taken their missing person report more seriously.
Mihrican “Jan” Mustafa, 38, was murdered, and her body was found nearly one year after she had been reported missing. Zahid Younis was jailed for killing her and 34-year-old Henriett Szucs, both of whose remains he left in the chest freezer of his home.
But Mihrican’s family had reported her missing to Metropolitan Police nearly a year previous.
Officers had knocked on Younis’ door in Canning Town, east London, months prior to the discovery – after his number was found in Mihrican’s call history.
It was only when concerns were later raised about his wellbeing that officers broke into the flat and discovered the two bodies, Mirror reports.
Mihrican’s heartbroken cousin, Ayse Hussein, has now accused the force of acting in a dismissive manner, and questioned their monitoring of Younis.
She told the Mirror: “Because she was vulnerable, they didn’t take her seriously. And every woman – whatever race, nationality, whatever job they are doing – it doesn’t matter.
“They should all be treated the same, but Jan wasn’t.”
Her bereaved family is one of many demanding Met Police reform, after a damning review found the force to be institutionally racist, misogynist and homophobic.
Discussing the report’s findings, Ayse said: “It flags up questions now – why was Jan treated differently from someone else? Was it race, was it misogyny?
“While Jan was missing, a doctor disappeared a few months later, and within two or three days she was all over the radio. So why was she more special than Jan? It’s just not fair.
“I don’t know what book the Met reads, or what rules the Met follow, but clearly it isn’t one book because they pick and choose who gets priority, and who doesn’t.
“Jan was missing for a whole year – during that time the Met never gave us missing person posters, they never put up a reward, never let us do an appeal for Jan.
“Why? These are the questions we ask now – why? When others got it and we didn’t. We feel so let down by the Met.”
During Younis’ six-week murder trial at Southwark Crown Court, jurors were told he had targeted vulnerable women including drug addicts like Mihrican and Henriett – who had both also gone through periods of homelessness.
Recalling when her cousin first went missing, Ayse said: “It wasn’t a big deal to the Met. It was like ‘oh don’t worry about it, she’ll come back when she’s ready’.
“They were so confident that she would be coming back, they said she hadn’t left a suicide note or anything unusual or suspicious, so she’s probably just gone off or staying with friends, and she’ll be back soon. So even from the beginning, they didn’t take it seriously.
“When it’s your loved one you know, when the weeks and months are going past, that this is definitely something unusual. So what does that tell you? It’s serious.
“Jan was classed as a medium risk for the whole year that she went missing. We were saying to them how serious this is, that she’s missed her children’s birthdays, she’s missed Christmas. This is something really, really serious.”
In 2020, Younis – who is also known as Boxer – was found guilty of two counts of murder and jailed for life with a minimum tariff of 38 years.
He has admitted putting the women in his freezer and previously pleaded guilty to preventing the lawful and decent burial of both women, but he had denied double murder.
Younis has several previous convictions for assaulting partners.
In addition, he was jailed for 30 months for assaulting a 14-year-old teenager and unlawful sexual activity with a child and was put on the sex offenders’ register.
The prosecution said that in 2007, following his release from prison, Younis got into a relationship with a 17-year-old girl whose father had recently died.
He was later sentenced to four years and 11 months for two counts of wounding and one of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
Ayse said: “It was only when Jan was found and the missing person report came out that we discovered the fifth week in, when the Met was looking through her phone records, that Zahid’s number was one of the last to be called on her phone.
“So they went to his property and knocked on the door. He wasn’t home so they put a note through the door for him to call.
“A few days later he did call back and said that a friend of his used his phone, and that he did know her through a friend, but he’d not seen her, and that was it.
“Then maybe a month or two later they might’ve knocked again just to say ‘any update, have you seen her since’ but come on. If you’d done your homework properly, Zahid Younis is a known sex offender that’s being monitored by the Met.”
Ayse claimed Younis was being monitored as a medium-risk sex offender, and that police were visiting his property every six months.
She said: “If you’re going to monitor a sex offender then do it properly. Don’t just go in and speak to him for two minutes. Check the house and all the rooms – someone could be being held hostage, you don’t know what’s going on.
“It’s so frustrating. They had all the information on a computer in the fifth week with his name and history. Jan may even have been alive the fifth week she went missing in that flat. He could’ve just locked her in a room and told her to be quiet when they knocked.
“How do we know that? We never will. She could have been alive today if the police had done their job properly.”
In a statement, the Met said it referred itself to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), and learning was identified for its North East Basic Command Unit.
A spokesperson said: “Various lines of enquiry were conducted throughout the missing person investigation in an attempt to try and locate Jan. After her death, the Met referred itself to the Independent Office for Police Conduct in accordance with agreed protocols.
“The IOPC referred the matter back to the Met for the Directorate of Professional Standards to investigate. The investigation concluded in January 2021 and identified learning for the North East Basic Command Unit. The IOPC agreed with the outcome.
“The family of Jan were regularly updated throughout the investigation.”
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley told reporters that he accepted allegations of racism, misogyny and homophobia in the force, but would not use the term institutional because it has become politicised, and meant different things to different people.
Apologising to those let down by the force, he said the Met was taking action to improve vetting and getting rid of more officers who should not be serving.
Asked for his reaction when he first read the report he said: “It’s disturbing. It’s upsetting. It’s heartbreaking.”
Sir Mark went on: “To be part of an organisation that has let individuals down so badly is deeply upsetting. And that’s where part of my own motivation comes from.
“Because we have to right this wrong. We have to deal with these cultural problems. And the vast majority of my colleagues are up for this.”
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