Sainsbury’s worker killed by boyfriend who sent text saying he ‘got rid’ of her

A Sainsbury's marketing manager was murdered by her boyfriend who then sent a text to his drug dealer saying he had "got rid" of her before killing himself days later. Cocaine and gambling addict Jay Dawes, 28, killed his university graduate girlfriend Amani Iqbal with a dressing gown and left her in a bathtub, an inquest heard. Dawes then sent a text to his drug dealer saying he had "got rid" of Amani, also 28, shortly after she was last seen on New Year's Eve 2020.

Just days later on January 2 last year he drove his Peugeot into an HGV lorry that was parked in a layby near Saffron Walden, Essex. The lorry burst into flames and Dawes was killed almost instantly. He also said he had got himself another girlfriend, had broken up with Amani and was now feeling "happy and upbeat".

Urgent appeal after child 'taken in van' with children playing nearby witnessingAmani Iqbal was found dead at her Walthamstow flat the day after Jay Dawes fatally crashed his carAmani Iqbal was found dead at her Walthamstow flat the day after Jay Dawes fatally crashed his car (MyLondon/BPM Media)Amani Iqbal was found unresponsive by policeSpeaking about her daughter, Amani's mother said: 'She loved the outdoors and we would go for walks together. She loved travelling and would spend weekends in the countryside' (MyLondon/BPM Media)

Miss Iqbal, a Durham University graduate who worked as a marketing propositions manager for Sainsbury's, was found after Dawes's death. Waltham Forest Coroners Court in east London was told how the couple had been talking about getting married, having babies and getting a dog in the days before she died.

The couple were seen on CCTV holding hands together just hours before the killing. Amani's mother Samina Iqbal told the inquest, in evidence that was read out by the Coroner: "The circumstances surrounding her tragic death are to this day unclear. "Our family is still in shock and struggling to make sense of such a sudden and unexpected event.

"Growing up she was a happy and active girl who loved school. She loved playing and was very bright." She added: "She maintained strong friendships with her school girlfriends.

She only had two boyfriends before starting a relationship with Jay. "At first their relationship went very well and they moved into a flat in Bounds Green together. We often had them over and went to their house for lunch.

"However, I soon saw him undermining her friendships with her closest school friends, which turned her against them to some degree. "Then he changed and he decided he didn't want to be with her. She came back to live with me.

"I was taken aback by the fact that they broke up but they never completely broke away from each other. "They kept speaking and seeing each other as friends but I didn't like the way he treated her." The grieving mum said her daughter told her about Dawes' debts, instability and previous suicide attempts.

She added: "She told me about his depression, instability, previous suicide attempts, lack of work and the fact he had debts. "He told her repeatedly his family didn't care about him and they only got back together when she bought a flat in Walthamstow in 2018. "Their relationship became obscure and I thought he was not a good influence on her. "We had a wonderful relationship and spent a lot of time together.

"She loved the outdoors and we would go for walks together. She loved travelling and would spend weekends in the countryside. "She was a keen reader and was in love with life, and was very sociable."

Waltham Forest Coroners CourtWaltham Forest Coroners Court (Marion Phillips / geograph.org)

She added that they last saw each other on the day she was last seen, when she came round to her mother's for lunch.

Her mother then sent her a text in the evening and got no reply which was "unusual". Her mother added that she believes her "last texts", sent to her dad and friends to wish them Happy New Year on WhatsApp, were not sent by her because they contained spelling and grammar mistakes, and the family said they believe she was killed on New Year's Eve. Miss Iqbal was last seen on CCTV crying as her boyfriend closed the curtains at their flat just after 9pm on that day.

He began texting his drug dealer Brian Alexander within an hour. The pair exchanged around 60 texts and met in person three times in the time between her disappearance and the car crash. Mr Alexander insisted the texts were about whether Mr Dawes could do gardening work for his mother.

Mr Dawes also withdrew GBP250 three times and drove her Fiat 500 during that period, and on one occasion he withdrew the money on her card and bought pizza. Miss Iqbal's lifeless body was found on January 3, 2020, in the bath at their flat in Walthamstow. Her t-shirt was partially removed and a dressing gown was found in the bathroom.

A bag of ice was found on top of her body, and he had been caught on CCTV buying ice shortly after she was last seen. Pink plastic gloves were found in the bathroom, a clump of hair was found in the hallway and blood stains were found on the hinge of the door. Pathologist Dr Olaf Biedrzycki said the cause of death appeared to be compression of the neck caused by a third party.

Police said their findings at the scene were consistent with an unlawful killingPolice said their findings at the scene were consistent with an unlawful killing (Getty)

Police also said their findings at the scene were also consistent with an unlawful killing, the hearing was told.

Taking to the witness stand, Brian Alexander said he could not remember details of texts he exchanged with Mr Dawes between the last time Amani was seen and when his friend killed himself. He appeared very nervous, breathed heavily and was anxious as he gave evidence and was cross-examined by the coroner and lawyers for Miss Iqbal's family. He said they had known each other "for a few years" but only got back in touch at Christmas 2020 when they exchanged messages.

He insisted the texts were about whether Mr Dawes could help his mum with her garden and Mr Dawes asked to borrow GBP50. He said in his police statement: "I have known him for a couple of years through friends and he did gardening and fencing. "On New Years Eve 2020, I got a text from him saying he had got rid of her or broken up with his girlfriend, I can't remember the exact words he used.

Police investigated the incidentPolice investigated the incident (Getty Images)

"He said had got another girlfriend who he had broken up with and now he was happy again.

He appeared upbeat and happy." He claimed he could not remember reading texts where Mr Dawes spoke about his girlfriends, whether he spoke about girlfriends when they met up and whether he said he had "got rid of her" or not. He added: "I can't remember any of these calls or sending any of these texts.

"People say they have got rid of a pair of shoes or a car, that doesn't mean they have killed them." Met Police Detective Superintendent Steve Ramshaw said Mr Alexander was being "economical" with the truth. Miss Iqbal's GP told the hearing there was no evidence she had any physical or mental health problems.

Mr Dawes' inquest was also due to take place, but had to be adjourned to a later date which was not setMr Dawes' inquest was also due to take place, but had to be adjourned to a later date which was not set (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

She never left a suicide note and there is no evidence the pair had made a suicide pact.

A toxicology report found she had 135 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood in her system, with the legal limit set at 80 milligrams. In summary, Miss Iqbal's family's lawyer Rachel Barrett said: "The family ask the coroner to record a verdict of unlawful killing. "The standard of proof is the balance of probabilities and if you can reach findings amounting to either manslaughter or murder then that would suffice on the balance of probabilities.

"We suggest it is the just most likely explanation for her death, it is the only evidence that fits the evidence you have heard. "Significant pressure was applied to her neck over 15 to 30 seconds using a ligature and that is an unlawful act. "It is objectively dangerous, it is objectively likely to cause harm and death resulted."

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Mr Dawes' mother Jane told the hearing she did not believe balance of probabilities was a high enough standard of proof and insisted her son was "the most placid person" and was "generally shy".

Recording a conclusion of unlawful killing, Area Coroner for East London Nadia Persaud said: "The injuries are strongly indicative of third party involvement. "There is only a theoretical possibility that she caused the injuries to herself and if she had done so the ligature would still have been there; it was not. "There is no clear evidence of intent to record a conclusion of murder.

"Placing a ligature around someone's neck with such force to cause these injuries would meet the test for unlawful killing. "The medical cause of death is compression of the neck. It is likely on the balance of probabilities that she was unlawfully killed.

"I would like to express my deepest sympathies to the family and I am very sorry for your loss." Mr Dawes' inquest was also due to take place, but had to be adjourned to a later date which was not set. The Samaritans is available 24/7 if you need to talk.

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