A man who says he killed his wife believing that she had been possessed by an evil jinn told a court he loved her dearly.
Ahmed Al-Khatib admits killing Rania Alayed, 25, of Beechfield Street, Cheetham Hill, and burying her in a copse on the A19 in North Yorkshire in June last year. Her body has not been found.
The prosecution in a Manchester Crown Court trial say Mr Al-Khatib was a physically and sexually abusive husband who killed Rania for leaving him and becoming “too Westernised”.
Former takeaway driver Mr Al-Khatib, 34, of Knutsford Road, Gorton, denies murder on mental health grounds, saying he was hearing voices and seeing frightening visions in the build-up to the killing.
Giving evidence in his defence, Mr Al-Khatib denied claims he beat and raped his wife.
He described being plagued by visions of a jinn from the age of six.
He told court the jinn took on the shapes of relatives, animals and a “devil” – even leaving “fingermarks” around his neck – and goaded him to committ suicide.
Mr Al-Khatib said: “About four times I saw the djinn inside Rania, one time I saw him inside my son talking to me. The djinn can go inside anything he wants. I talk to dogs before, I talk to rabbits before.
“When the djinn goes in Rania, Rania will look like him. Rania have four hands and she can extend her hands, and red hair, and very big eyes. I told her the djinn was inside you, she said you need medical help. Last time I saw her she said you need medical help.”
Mr Al-Khatib described being exorcised by a raqi (Muslim exorcist) when he was 16-years-old in Syria, where he grew up as a Palestinian refugee from Gaza.
He said: “After I go to the imam I didn’t see it for a long time. The jinn leave my body through my left foot.”
Mr Al-Khatib told court he met Rania when he was 20, and that theirs was a “strong love story”. He said they had a “nice life” after settling in the UK in 2005, but Rania “changed” and became inattentive when she began to attend college. He said allegations he was abusive were part of a “plan” she had to leave him.
The court heard the marriage ended in January 2013, with Ms Alayed accusing him of rape and Mr Al-Khatib accusing her of cheating.
Mr Al-Khatib said he was “lost” and in poor mental health after she left him, with hospital records from before the killing detailing complaints of “constantly hearing voices” and seeing a “white rabbit who keeps telling him to kill himself”.
At one stage during his evidence Mr Al-Khatib asked for a break, saying he was “hearing voices”.
Moments before that he said: “I still love her now. She’s my life, she’s everything to me. If you think this court will give me punishment I don’t think so, because there’s no punishment worse than Rania being gone. She’s gone.”
The case is still ongoing.