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Man convicted of murder - Bracknell

Friday 30 November 2012, 4:06pm

A 28-year-old man has been sentenced to life imprisonment with a recommendation that he serve a minimum of 23 years in prison after being found guilty of murdering his partner.

Muhammad Shafi was found guilty of murdering his partner Tuanjai Sprengel, aged 43, following a trial by jury at Reading Crown Court. He denied the charge.

MUHAMMAD SHAFI

Shafi attacked Tuanjai in an underpass under the London Road A329 in Bracknell in the early hours of Sunday, May 27 2012.

Senior Investigating Officer Det Ch Insp Steve Tolmie said: “Throughout this trial, members of the jury have listened carefully to all the evidence put before them and have found Shafi guilty of Tuanjai’s murder. He has now been brought to justice.

“Despite evidence which proved that Tuanjai was repeatedly struck with such force that bones in her hands were broken as she tried to defend herself, Shafi claimed that he did not know what had killed her and that it was not his intention to kill or cause serious harm.

‘’I would like to thank the witnesses for attending court and providing the evidence that convicted this dangerous killer. He stabbed her in the neck before savagely beating Tuanjai with a heavy pair of cutters on at least nine occasions. She was struck with considerable force across the back of her head causing some horrific lacerations’’

“He told police that he deeply regretted what had happened and that he loved Tuanjai very much. Yet, according to evidence from his friends, Tuanjai was still breathing when Shafi left her to die in the underpass. When confronted by Police at an early stage in the investigation he did not offer any explanation and made out that he knew nothing of her murder. This was a very violent and pointless death. Shafi has shown no remorse or emotion from the time of his arrest, throughout the extensive interviewing at the police station and during this trial. There were a few ‘crocodile tears’ from the witness box but these were of self pity’’  

The success of this investigation was due to old fashioned leg work by detectives on the ground and during a fast moving enquiry they secured the crime scenes, quickly arrested the offender, before closely examining CCTV evidence and recovering the murder weapons and blood stained clothing from undergrowth in the Bracknell area.

Tuanjai was born in Thailand but married a German national Rudiger Sprengel in 1994 in Denmark. She became a full German citizen six years ago. In June 1997 she gave birth to a son, Simon. She left Mr Sprengel in October 2010 to move to the UK. In March 2012 Mr Sprengel filed for divorce.

Shafi, a Pakistani national, entered the UK under a student visa which expired in February 2012. He and Tuanjai appear to have undertaken an Islamic marriage ceremony in January 2012, however Tuanjai’s divorce was not final.

It appeared that Shafi was attempting to use his relationship with Tuanjai to remain in the UK but at the time of her death she was still legally married to her German husband.

On the afternoon of Saturday 26 May, Tuanjai and Shafi left their home in Basemoors. They went to the Ladbrokes shop in Bracknell at 5pm where they stayed until 10pm playing the roulette machines.

During the course of the evening Shafi twice visited the ATM in Lloyds TSB branch in Bracknell to withdraw money. The couple did argue at one point but left together at 10pm. It was found they had lost about £1,000 on the roulette machines during the course of the evening.

Between midnight and 1am on Sunday 27 May, a witness heard an argument between a man and a woman in the Basemoors area.

At just after 8am, Tuanjai’s body was found in the underpass by a man who was cycling home from work on a night shift.

At around 9am, Shafi went to his friend‘s house in Bracknell and asked him to look after a rucksack. Shafi told him: “I’ve done a very bad thing”.

Shafi told another friend that he had killed his wife. The friend told him to hand himself into the police but Shafi refused and instead dumped his rucksack filled with bloodstained clothes on waste area behind a nearby BP garage.

Police had discovered Tuanjai’s identity and at 2pm officers attended her address in Basemoors. They met Shafi who said he was her partner.

He told them that they had argued the day before but had gone out in Bracknell and returned at 11pm.

He said that Tuanjai then went out with a friend, but he could not provide details of that friend or explain why he had not reported her missing.

At 2.15pm Shafi was arrested and cautioned but did not make any reply. He denied the murder.

Baljit Ubhey OBE, Chief Crown Prosecutor for Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said: “We have worked closely with Thames Valley Police since this investigation was launched. This was a particularly brutal and savage attack, which led to the untimely death of Tuanjai Sprengel, a woman who had made a new life for herself here in the UK.

“The jury found that there was overwhelming evidence that Mr Shafi killed Ms Sprengel and rejected his claims that she provoked him to lose his self-control. The CPS praises the strength and courage of Tuanjai’s cousin and friends who gave evidence at the trial and gave the jury an insight into Tuanjai and her deteriorating relationship with Shafi.

“As a result of the hard work and diligence of the prosecution team, a just outcome has been achieved for the victim and her family and friends. We hope that the conviction and sentence will in some way help them come to terms with this tragic event and move forward with their lives.

“However, no matter how long the prison sentence is, we acknowledge that nothing can make up for the loss felt by the family and friends of Tuanjai Sprengel. Our thoughts are very much with them at this time.”

Press Bureau
(01865) 846699

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