Laura Wilson was just 17-years-old when she was stabbed to death next to a canal in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, in 2010.
This wasn’t a mugging gone wrong, or a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. In fact, the mother-of-one was the victim of Britain’s first white honour killing. Her death was premeditated murder, plotted and committed by the boyfriend she was madly in love with.
Laura’s crime was to bring dishonour on her Muslim lover Ashtiaq Ashgar, 21, who is now serving a life sentence for the brutal murder.
In 2008, the couple began an intense relationship at school when Laura was just 15, and Ashtiaq, 16.
Her sister, Sarah, reveals on tonight’s episode of Britain’s Darkest Taboos on Crime & Investigation Network: ‘She loved him. She worshipped the ground he walked on, she really did. She would have done anything for him.’
Ashtiaq came from a traditional Muslim family who were planning an arranged marriage for their son with a girl from Pakistan.
They would have been horrified to learn he was dating a white girl so he made Laura keep their relationship a secret.
Unbeknownst to his family, he lived a double life where he drank, smoked cannabis, carried weapons and had numerous relationships with women, including Laura.
When Laura found out that he had been seeing other girls, they broke up and she slept with his married friend, 22-year-old Ishaq ‘Zac’ Hussein, to make him jealous.
Only 16, she fell pregnant as a result of the fling and had a daughter, Alicia. Zac refused to acknowledge he was the father.
After Alicia was born, Laura and Ashtiaq rekindled their relationship but he insisted it must continue to be a secret. But while Laura was very much in love, her mother, Maggie, believes Ashtiaq was just using Laura for sex and treated her badly.
She said: ‘I heard a phone conversation between Laura and Ashtiaq, Laura telling him how much he loved him and he was just so nasty. You could hear Laura crying in the background. He was saying just how much he hated her and that he’d got another girl, and he wasn’t interested in her and she’s shouting back “I love ya, I love ya…”. He used Laura I think at the end.’
Laura soon became sick of being Ashtiaq’s secret and on October 6, 2010, fueled by alcohol, she and her sister made the fatal mistake of revealing all to his family.
They knocked on his mother’s door and told her what was going on.
Sarah recalls: ‘Laura told her that she wanted to marry him, but his mother got aggressive and hit her with a shoe, calling her “a dirty white b****”.’
The whole time Ashtiaq stood behind his mother ‘acting sheepish’.
The public episode would have been deeply shameful and embarrassing to him.
On a roll, Laura and Sarah also visited Zac’s family to reveal how he is the father of her baby.
Maggie recalls: ‘She said “I am sick of her being a secret” as she had been told not to mention about Alicia to any of the family. So she told them but they just didn’t want to know.’
Maggie added that Laura’s relations with Ashtiaq and Zac had ‘fetched shame on their family… she had to be stopped.’
In the days following Sarah and Laura turning up at their houses, an angry Ashtiaq sent Zac a text message saying: ‘I’m gonna send that b***** to Hell.’
He also said he wanted to make ‘beans on toast’ of her, which is a phrase that means to spill blood.
He asked Laura to meet him at the canal one evening and it’s there that he murdered her.
When Laura did not return home that evening, Maggie said she ‘just knew’ something terrible had happened.
Meanwhile, Ashtiaq was trying to cover his tracks by texting Laura’s friend asking if she had ‘seen’ her.
Two days later, Laura’s body was found in the canal. She had more than 40 stab wounds, most of those to the head, and some were defence wounds.
Maggie had to go identify her daughter. She said: ‘I went over and kissed her and I put my arms around her and I just sobbed.’
Sarah was overwhelmed with guilt. She said: ‘If it was going to be anyone it should have been me. It was my choice to go and knock on Ashtiaq’s door, it was my choice to go and knock on Zac’s door. She had everything to live for.’
Police charged Ashtiaq and Zac with murder–describing the case as Britain’s first white honour based killing.
Both men pleaded not guilty.
On May 2011 at Ashtiaq‘s trial, the court heard how after stabbing Laura, he threw her into the canal but she kept fighting for her life. A pathologist report found that the stab wounds to the head were actually done to keep her under the water.
On June 1 Ashtiaq changed his plea to guilty in the hope of a reduced sentence, as the evidence was stacking up against him.
On December 21 the judge sentenced 18-year-old Ashtiaq to 17-and-a-half years imprisonment for Laura’s murder.
‘He showed no remorse, just upset at the amount of time he got in jail,’ says Maggie.
Meanwhile, following a retrial Zac was acquitted of murder.
Ashtiaq is currently serving a life sentence and will be eligible for parole in 2029 when he’s 34-years-old.
Sarah said she believed his punishment was not enough, adding: ‘He’s going to be out in 2029… he can still get out and get married and have kids and have a good life. My sister can’t.’
Maggie and Sarah are now raising Laura’s daughter, Alicia, and this keeps them going.
Maggie said: ‘I need to keep strong for Alicia. I have got to make sure she has a good upbringing, good schooling. Keep her safe.’