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Asylum seeker who nearly beheaded girlfriend in attack branded a ‘monster’

Tunisian-born Maher Maaroufe, 23, is to be sentenced at the Old Bailey for the manslaughter of Sabita Thanwani.

An asylum seeker who nearly beheaded his girlfriend while stabbing her to death has been branded a “monster” by the victim’s family, a court heard.

Tunisian-born Maher Maaroufe, 23, is to be sentenced at the Old Bailey for the manslaughter of 19-year-old City, University of London student Sabita Thanwani at her accommodation in Clerkenwell.

He had denied it was murder on the grounds of diminished responsibility because of mental health issues, a plea deemed acceptable by prosecutors.

Sabita Thanwani death
Maher Maaroufe is to be sentenced for the manslaughter of Sabita Thanwani at student accommodation in Clerkenwell, London (Metropolitan Police/PA)

Ms Thanwani’s father, mother and brother referred to Maaroufe as “evil” and “sadistic” in victim impact statements read to the court on Thursday.

The student was fatally stabbed in the neck with a knife at around 5am on March 19 last year.

Prosecutor Louis Mably KC added: “In fact, the nature of the wound showed he had almost beheaded her.”

Before her death, Ms Thanwani had complained that Maaroufe was “possessive and controlling”, even waiting outside nightclubs she was in to escort her home, the prosecutor said.

The court heard Maaroufe entered the UK legally on an unknown date but had overstayed and was in the process of claiming asylum at the time of the attack.

He was unemployed, smoked cannabis and “regularly got into fights”, Mr Mably said.

On the evening before the attack, Ms Thanwani met Maaroufe, who was wearing a balaclava, outside a mosque and they spent time in Edgware Road and Oxford Street.

After they had returned to Ms Thanwani’s accommodation, other students heard her shouting “stop”, “I can’t breathe” and “I beg you, don’t kill me” in the early hours of the morning, the court heard.

One young woman, who called the police, said she heard a “loud scream of help”, Mr Mably said.

Maaroufe tried to get into another room before leaving the building in Sebastian Street.

He was found by police asleep under a tarpaulin in a garden shed and head-butted a police officer while being arrested, the court heard.

Ms Thanwani, an aspiring psychologist, was described as a “hardworking, conscientious, kind and caring young woman”.

Her body was found with a slit throat next to items used to smoke weed. A sock was placed over the room’s smoke alarm.

Ms Thanwani’s father Manoj said in a statement read to the court by another family member: “This monster stabbed my baby, inflicting as much pain and suffering as he could.”

He added: “He is an evil, sadistic murderer, his actions were calculated to kill her because she rejected him.”

Her mother Rheea wrote: “He murdered Sabita, he murdered me, he murdered all of us.”

The victim’s 22-year-old brother Raveen added “anger and rage consumes” him when thinking about the defendant.

Earlier this year Maaroufe pleaded guilty to manslaughter but denied Ms Thanwani’s murder.

He also pleaded guilty to a charge of assault by beating an emergency worker.

Maaroufe is to hear his sentence at a later date to be set by the court.

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