The murder of Banaz Mahmod – the true story behind ITV drama Honour

The two-part drama follows the investigation into the so-called 'honour killing' of Banaz.

Keeley Hawes stars in ITV’s Honour as DCI Caroline Goode, the senior investigating officer leading the investigation into the disappearance – and subsequently the murder – of Banaz Mahmod in 2006.

The case made headlines as it revealed that members of Banaz’s own family had killed her, and that she had warned local police that her life was in danger – but they had failed to act in time.

Here are the details of the story that inspired the two-part drama.

Who was Banaz Mahmod?

Banaz Mahmod was born on 16 December 1985 in Iraqi Kurdistan, one of six children to Mahmod and Behya Mahmod.

The family sought asylum in the UK when Banaz was 10 years old, and settled in Mitcham, south London.

When Banaz was a teenager she was forced into an arranged marriage with a man 10 years her senior.

Banaz reported that her husband was very strict, “like it was 50 years ago”, and that she was raped by him.

Although her parents claimed that leaving her husband would bring shame on the family, in July 2005 Banaz returned to the family home.

Banaz began seeing Rahmat Suleimani, a relationship that both her uncle, Ari Mahmod, and her father strongly disapproved of. Banaz and Rahmat continued seeing each other in secret, but the family remained aware of their relationship.

What happened to Banaz Mahmod?

Banaz became aware that her uncle had threatened to kill her and her boyfriend, and went to the police in December 2005. Later that month, she brought a letter to Wimbledon Police Station listing the people she believed were trying to kill her.

On 31 December 2005, police were called to a cafe in Wimbledon where Banaz had arrived, claiming her father was trying to kill her. Banaz was distressed and injured, having broken a window in order to escape from the family home.

Banaz was taken to hospital, but the police officer who interviewed her did not believe her, and described her as “melodramatic” and “manipulative”.

On 25 January 2006, Rahmat Suleimani reported her missing to the police, having become concerned when he was unable to contact her.

The police spoke with her parents, who gave the impression that Banaz often stayed out late and that this was nothing out of the ordinary. Rahmat, however, remained concerned and continued to contact the police.

Eventually, the police discovered inconsistencies in the accounts given to them by Banaz’s parents, and questioned her parents and her uncle as well as searching their houses.

The case was passed on to the Metropolitan Police’s Homicide and Serious Crime Command, to be handled by DCI Caroline Goode.

How did Banaz Mahmod die?

DCI Goode’s investigation eventually uncovered that Banaz died on 24 January 2006. She was raped and tortured before being strangled to death by her relatives Mohammad Hama, Omar Hussain and Mohammed Saleh Ali, who had been instructed to kill her by Banaz’s father and uncle.

Banaz’s body was forced into a suitcase and driven to Handsworth in the West Midlands, where it was buried in the back garden of a residential house. Her body was found by police in April 2006.

Who was convicted of Banaz Mahmod’s death?

Following the Met Police investigation, Mohammad Hama, Ari Mahmod and Mahmod Mahmod were all charged with murder.

In July 2007, Ari Mahmod and Mahmod Mahmod were both found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison, with minimum sentences of 23 and 20 years respectively.

After pleading guilty, Mohammad Hama was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life, with a minimum sentence of 17 years.

Mohammed Saleh Ali and Omar Hussain fled to Iraqi Kurdistan after murdering Banaz.

Mohammed Saled Ali was extradited to the UK in June 2009 – the first ever extradition from Iraq to the UK – and Omar Hussain was extradited to the UK in March 2010.

Both were charged with murder, conspiracy to kidnap, threats to kill and perverting the course of justice, and found guilty at trial in November 2010, receiving life sentences with a minimum term of 22 years for Mohammed Saleh Ali and 21 years for Omar Hussain.

Another of Banaz’s cousins, Dana Amin, was found guilty in 2013 of perverting the course of justice and helping to bury Banaz’s body, and sentenced to eight years in prison.

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