Emma James, Mirror, March 27, 2017
A Pakistani cricketer who hit his wife with his bat and made her drink bleach has been spared jail – clearing his way to play for a top club, a court has heard.
Mustafa Bashir also slapped and choked his wife, berated her for wearing western clothing, tried to turn her against her own family and called her a “slag” when she went out socialising with friends he called “English slag girls”.
He avoided jail after a judge said he was “not convinced” the victim was vulnerable.
Bashir’s lawyer claimed in court that the 34-year-old would sign a contract with former county cricket champions Leicestershire as a professional player after being offered a contract shortly before his arrest.
However a spokesman for the club denied those claims, saying it has never spoken to Bashir or his agent, or offered him a contract.
Manchester Crown Court heard how Bashir and Fakhara Karim met in their native Pakistan and married in 2013, but he controlled her and how she spent her money.
During the stormy marriage he struck Miss Karim over her back with his cricket bat because he felt she spent too long talking to a friend on the phone, telling her: “If I hit you with this bat with my full power then you would be dead.”
The incident occurred at their home on New Year’s Eve in 2014, with Bashir snatching his wife’s phone and telling her he would search it to look at her messages.
He bent her fingers back in attempt to break them and slapped her so hard she lost consciousness, the court heard.
Prosecutor Roger Brown: said “The next thing she remembers is waking up on her bed, she went to get her phone but he was there.
“She said to him ‘it’s over please leave me alone’ but he called her a ‘slag’, and strangled her until she was struggling to breathe.
“He grabbed a cricket bat that was in the bedroom and her over the back with it. She recalls feeling a sharp pain.
“He said to her ‘If I hit you with this bat with my full power then you would be dead’. He went into the hall and she took the opportunity to call 999.”
In an earlier incident the couple were on a day out to Rochdale Lake in April 2014 when they argued over his cricket tour to the Netherlands.
Bashir, who plays for a local cricket league in Oldham, Greater Manchester, grabbed his wife by the neck and squeezed until a member of the public intervened, the court heard.
As the argument continued at home he grabbed her neck again and then picked up a knife and threatened to kill himself as his wife begged him not to.
Mr Brown said: “He took her into the bathroom where he grabbed a bottle of bleach and he made her drink the bleach so she would kill herself. She spat that out as she was unable to swallow it.
“Then he gave her tablets from the house and told her to take them. She did but again she was unable to swallow them.
“He said to her “I want you to kill yourself.”
In a statement Miss Karim said she was a confident, active and social woman before she met Bashir, but became a shell of her former self as she was abused.
Miss Karim, a hotel receptionist who was taking university studies, added: “It will take a long time to get back to how I was before. My education results got better after the split and I got a 2:1 and was able to qualify for my masters. I still find it very difficult to trust people.
“I can’t see how I could trust another man again after what happened to me. I dreamt of being in a happy relationship and I do not feel now that that will ever happen with someone else.”
Judge Richard Mansell QC said he didn’t believe the victim was vulnerable as she was “an intelligent woman with a network of friends” and had a college degree.
Bashir admitted assault occasioning actual bodily harm but his lawyer said if he was spared prison he would be able to accept a place at Leicestershire which has won the English county championship three times and produced a string of England stars including David Gower, Ray Illingworth and Peter Willey.
Passing an 18 month jail term suspended for two years Judge Mansell QC ordered Bashir to attend a workshop entitled “building better relationships” and pay £1,000 costs, and banned him from contacting Miss Karim indefinitely under the terms of a restraining order.
The judge said: “You told her how to spend her money and you tried to turn her against her family who you regularly insulted. She would buy clothes that were of a western style which you disapproved of and called her a slag and said her friends were ‘English slag girls’.
“But I am not convinced she was a vulnerable person. Sometimes women who moved here from their country become trapped in a relationship where they lose their support network of family and friends and cannot speak the language.
“This is not the case with her. She is plainly an intelligent woman with a network of friends and did go on to graduate university with a 2:1 and a masters – although this has had an ongoing affect on her. She had difficult trusting people now, especially men.”
He added: ‘’With regard to the mitigating factors I am not convinced of your remorse for her, but you are sorry for the position you find yourself in over the last two years. Your current partner is supporting you in court and she complains of no violence. You have employment prospects of being employed in cricket for Leicestershire Cricket Club.
“This court will not tolerate violence in a relationship of this nature. It is a very fine line between imprisonment and a suspended sentence.’’
In mitigation Bashir’s lawyer Hugh McKee said: “He has continued to play professionally in a local cricket league but of some importance certainly to him is if he is allowed to keep his liberty he will be employed by Leicestershire as a professional.
“He was about to sign the contract when he was arrested.”
Mr McKee added: “Mr Bashir was working in that time for long hours and having two jobs and she had no jobs.
“He says that he gave her money and got into debt to allow her to go on holiday with her friends. He struggled and continues to struggle and to this day he hasn’t been able to give an explanation about what led him to do what he did.”
Following the sentencing hearing a spokesman for Leicestershire County Cricket Club said: “[We] are aware of stories that have been published this morning regarding Mustafa Bashir.
“The club are bemused by these stories.
“Any references to Mustafa Bashir signing or being approached to sign for Leicestershire County Cricket Club are completely false.
“The club have never spoken to Mustafa Bashir or an agent, nor offered a contract to the player.”