Asylum seeker stabbed housemate more than 30 times

2 months ago 9

An asylum seeker who stabbed her housemate more than 30 times in a 'frenzied and calculated attack' to avoid being thrown out of Britain has been jailed for life.

Awa Zongo faced deportation back to her native Burkina Faso near the Ivory Coast after three failed asylum applications.

Some 48 hours before she was due to be returned to West Africa by Home Office officials, Zongo hurled a pan of boiling water over Asam Panahandeh then stabbed her while shouting: 'I'm not going back'.

An off-duty nurse spotted psychology graduate Miss Panahandeh staggering around in the street in Wigan with the knife still protruding from her throat last December.

The 42-year-old suffered wounds to her chest, abdomen, chest, back, buttocks, arms, legs, head and neck and 20 degree burns. 

One wound missed a main artery in the victim's neck by 1mm and doctors who treated her said it was 'miraculous' that she survived the attack.

Judge Patrick Field QC described Zongo's attack as 'furious, frenzied and calculated', adding: 'It seems that your sole purpose for this merciless attack was to stop your lawful removal from the UK. 

'It was a particularly cynical, calculated and frankly wicked attack.'

Awa Zongo, who was facing deportation, has been jailed for life in the UK after stabbing her housemate 

Paramedics recovered a crochet hook from Zongo and as she was taken to the police station she said: 'I didn't mean to kill her, I tried to stab myself as I wanted to die.'    

At Manchester Crown Court, Zongo was jailed for life with a recommendation she serve a minimum of seven years before being considered for parole. 

It is understood she will be deported after she completes her sentence in the UK which is expected to cost the taxpayer some £43,000 a year.

As he jailed Zongo, Judge Patrick Field QC told her: 'You launched a furious, frenzied and calculated attack on your victim. You plunged that knife into your victim's neck right up to the hilt. The fact that wound did not prove fatal is nothing short of miraculous.' 

The court heard Zongo had tried to get into the UK in January 2019 but was refused entry as a visitor and held in an immigration detention centre for the purposes of removing her from the country.

Prosecutor Mr Joe Boyd said: 'She was placed on a plane leaving the UK two days later but was removed from it on the instructions of the captain when she became unmanageable.

'She was then due for removal on February 2, 2019 but made another application for asylum and was moved to rented accommodation provided by asylum support services. She was living alongside Miss Panahandeh and two other people.'

Mr Boyd said Zongo was refused asylum in July but appealed, which was dismissed in October. She took her claim to an upper tribunal which refused again on December 12. 

He added: 'She had exhausted all her options and if she had not gone on to commit this offence she would have been deported on December 16. 

'This was an unprovoked attack carried out for no other purpose but to ensure the defendant remained in the country for a significant period.

'In the days before the assault there was evidence of the defendant acting in a manner which concerned her victim. The defendant said she was unwell and feeling suicidal. 

'The victim called for an ambulance twice to take her to hospital but paramedics said there was nothing wrong with the defendant and said she was playing a game.  

'On the morning of December 14, the victim was using the shared bathroom. The defendant opened the bathroom door and entered holding a large saucepan with boiling water inside. 

'The defendant poured the water over her head. She then grabbed her victim by her hair, told her to lie on the bathroom floor and struck her over the head with one hand while holding her down with the other. 

'She then stabbed her victim with a kitchen knife and the victim later said the defendant was 'stabbing me everywhere.' 

At Manchester Crown Court, Zongo was jailed for life with a recommendation she serve a minimum of seven years before being considered for parole. It is understood she will be deported after she completes her sentence in the UK

'When the knife broke the defendant went to fetch a similar knife from the kitchen. When she returned, she went to check if her victim was still alive and when she realised she was, continued the attack. 

'The victim believed the defendant wanted her to die and pretended to be dead.

'The defendant stabbed her victim and left the knife in her neck, before leaving her on the floor believing her victim was dead.' 

Zongo admitted causing grievous bodily harm with intent after her not guilty plea to attempted murder was accepted. 

In mitigation her lawyer Steven Swift said: 'She has led a life blighted by physical and sexual abuse and economic deprivation. An expert phycologist claims she has PTSD.'

In a statement Miss Panahandeh said she now 'suffers from depression and pain 24 hours a day' and is unable to use her left hand. 

Burkina Faso has been suffering from a period of instability since a coup in 2014 and has been ravaged by attacks linked to Islamist militants, local defence militias and the army. The violence has led to one million people fleeing their homes and leaving 11,000 facing famine. 

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