Banaz Mahmod was a young woman who should have had everything to live for – but when she was just 20-years-old she was raped and murdered by her own family.
Her body was then stuffed into a suitcase and buried in a garden, where she was eventually found more than three months later.
Banaz was the victim of a brutal and horrifying so-called honour killing and her tragic story is now being told in the ITV drama, Honour, starring Keeley Hawes.
She plays Det Supt Caroline Goode, the police officer who investigated the murder and helped bring Banaz’s father, uncle, and three cousins to justice.
Her father, Mahmod Babakir Mahmod, was found guilty of her murder and jailed for 20 years while her uncle, Mahmod Babakir Mahmod, was also convicted of killing her and sentenced for 23 years.
At a second murder trial Mohammed Saleh Ali and Omar Hussain were both also convicted of Banaz’s murder and jailed for 20 and 21 years respectively.
Banaz was brought up in a strictly traditional Kurdish family, who lived in south London, after fleeing Iraqi Kurdistan when she was just 10.
In 2002, her elder sister Bekhal fled the family home when she was forced into an arranged marriage. She lived in foster care , where she told the authorities her family had threatened her and subjected her to abuse because she was friends with people they didn’t approve of.
Bekhal also sometimes wore western clothes and styled her hair. She also reported her father for threatening to kill both her and her mothers and sisters if she didn’t come home.
Her bravery meant Mahmod was partially ostricised by his community, although he did force Banaz’s younger sister, Payman, into an arranged marriage with a man who was 15 years older than her when she was just 16.
When Banaz was still a teenager she was also forced into an arranged marriage with a man 10 years her senior, who she described as having a mindset from “50 years ago”.
While she was married Banaz told police she had been raped and physically abused, something her family were aware of but told her to stay in the union so she didn’t bring shame on them.
When one of her sisters found her covered in bruises, she confronted Banaz’s husband, who told the family: “Yes, I do beat your daughter but it’s because she’s disrespectful. And yes I do force her to have sex, but only when she says no.”
Unable to cope with the horrifying cycle of abuse, she finally left home two tears after her wedding but returned in 2005.
It was then that Banaz started a relationship with Rahmat Sulemani, a man she had chosen for herself. Despite fierce disapproval from her father and uncle, Banaz kept seeing Rahmat.
Crime writer Mark Billingham, who had been so affected by the case it inspired him to write novel Love Like Blood, said: “They worshipped one another and they tried to keep apart.
“They knew the trouble they were going to get in but they couldn’t be without one another so they would meet secretly.”
It was when she accidentally overheard a phone conversation between her mother and her brother that Banaz became aware of the horrifying plot to have her murdered, which had been orchestrated by her own family.
Det Supt Goode said: “A council of war was held at Ari Mahmod’s house where the decision was made that Banaz and Rahmat would both be killed. Ari Mahmod rang Banaz’s mother and her that that was going to happen.
“In his words ‘they are bringing shame on the family and that b**** and that b****** are going to die’.”
Terrified after hearing the conversation, Banaz wrote a letter to police, telling them about the threats to kill her and her boyfriend, and delivered it to Wimbledon Police Station on December 12.
In it, she wrote: “Numbers 2, 3, 4 and 5 said they are ready and willing to do the job of killing me and my boyfriend.”
Author Mark said: “What must it have been like for her getting up every morning, going downstairs and not knowing what was going to happen that day?
“She was living every minute, of every hour of every day in absolute terror.”
Just over two weeks later, on New Year’s Eve, police were called to a cafe in Wimbledom where Banaz was making claims her father had tried to kill her.
She was drunk after her father had taken her to her grandmother’s home, where he had plied her with brandy poured into a glass he would only touch while wearing gloves.
She was taken to hospital, where Ramhat filmed a chilling video of her detailing to plot against both of them as she lay in bed.
But Banaz had nowhere to go and when her family arranged to meet her at a McDonald’s, she believed her father when he told her he was sorry and shouldn’t have listened to her brother.
He promised his daughter that nothing would happen to her and that she would be safe at home – it was a lie and just a few weeks later she would be murdered.
Two days before Banaz’s death, Rahmat was kidnapped and told that both her and his girlfriend were going to be killed.
Frantic, Rahmat reported his girlfriend missing but when police arrived at the family home, her father insisted that his daughter was free to come and go as she pleased and was probably staying with a friend.
Police started searching the woods close to Banaz’s home but when they tried to get more information from her family found they refused to speak.
Not only that but when they were in the home that she had shared with her parents and brother, officers saw no photos of the 20-year-old.
Finally, Banaz’s cousin, Mohamad Hama, told police he had been there when her boyfriend was kidnapped.
It was while he was being held in a cell that he made a phone call that would lead to her killers’ downfall.
Det Supt Goode said: “He was callously describing the murder to a relative and they were congratulating themselves on how manly they were.
And they described that murder in the most gruesome of terms.
“They had anally raped Banaz, she was vomiting she was so afraid. They had wrapped a cord three times around her neck so tightly that it was biting into her flesh.
“He described having his feet on her back and pulling and pulling on that cord. Can you imagine the horror of that situation? It took more than half an hour for her to die.”
But police had still not recovered Banaz’s body. Mobile records from two of her family members finally led them the house in the West Midlands.
Hama had asked a friend in a phone call if a “freezer had been put back over her body” and officers knew where to dig.
On April 28, 2006, Banaz’s body was found. It was so badly decomposed no DNA samples could be taken.
The following June her father and uncle were convicted of her murder – but two other cousins, Mohammed Saleh Ali and Omar Hussain, fled to Iraqi Kurdistan.
They were finally extradited in 2009 and jailed for her murder the following year.