A US businessman who murdered a British woman he met on an internet dating site has been jailed for life.
Sammy Almahri, 45, was told he would serve at least 17 years’ imprisonment for killing Nadine Aburas, 28, at the Future Inn hotel in Cardiff on New Year’s Eve 2014.
Afterwards, Almahri carefully washed her body, dressed her, put her into bed and wrote a suicide note to make it look as though she had killed herself, placing a “Do not disturb” sign on the door and fleeing the UK.
Cardiff Crown Court heard that the couple met on internet dating site MuslimMatch.com in 2013, with Almahri making the fictitious claim that he worked for the FBI.
He was described as being “besotted” with Miss Aburas and showered her with presents – including a car.
However, the court heard that the relationship soured in 2014 when Miss Aburas visited Almahri in New York.
When she returned to her family in Cardiff, she was described as looking “tired” and “drained”, and later contacted police saying she had been raped – although the complaint was not pursued by her or the police.
Almahri later threatened to post a naked photograph of Miss Aburas on Facebook and also accessed her text messages – believing she was seeing another man in Cardiff.
In a jealous rage days before he murdered her, he sent her a message saying: “F*** you, you will be so sorry, you will regret everything, he just want to f*** you, I will be in Cardiff soon, you will pay very bad, I will f*** you to hell, I hope you realise what you’re doing before I coming.”
Almahri arrived in the UK on December 27 and met Miss Aburas in London. They travelled back to Cardiff the following day but by December 30 Almahri had been in a fight with Miss Aburas’s brother, who had learned of the threats over the naked photographs.
After being told to leave Cardiff by her family, Almahri checked into the hotel and drank a large quantity of alcohol – including nine shots of tequila. After the murder he drank another three shots of tequila and two bottles of lager, the court heard.
After killing Miss Aburas, Almahri drove to Heathrow Airport using his victim’s car and boarded a flight to Qatar, before eventually ending up in Tanzania. Her body was found by a hotel worker later that day.
Almahri made several phone calls to the police in the days that followed, suggesting Miss Aburas could not live without him and had taken her own life.
Almahri told police: “I am not a criminal. I don’t kill her, she asked me to help her, yes, I help her … she had a little scratch on her neck.”
A post-mortem examination concluded that Miss Aburas had died from pressure to the neck and face.
Almahri, of 4500 Broadway, New York, initially admitted manslaughter, but denied murder saying he was suffering a mental disorder and carried out the killing after hearing the “voice of God”.
But on the second day of his trial at Cardiff Crown Court last month, he pleaded guilty to murder.
Sentencing Almahri, Mrs Justice Nicola Davies said: “It is the Crown’s case that between August and December 2014 you were acting in an increasingly jealous, possessive and threatening manner towards Nadine, particularly in the texts and electronic messages you were sending her.
“You were said to be effectively blackmailing Nadine with the photographs in your possession.
“Only you know what took place in the bedroom which led to the murder of Nadine. On the account you gave psychiatrists the two of you had consensual sex.
“It is likely that you were jealous and possessive in your relationship with Nadine. In my view, the evidence demonstrates a relationship in which you demonstrated both jealously and possessiveness of Nadine.
“The threats which you made to her to release the pictures to family and friends would have been deeply distressing.
“I am satisfied that your killing of Nadine was prompted by jealously and anger.
“In taking the life of this 28-year-old woman you have deprived her family of a beautiful and loving daughter, sister and aunt. Your actions will impact upon Nadine’s family for the rest of their lives. Their loss is immeasurable.”
Speaking outside court, Miss Aburas’s family said: “Sammy Almahri took Nadine from us at the start of her adult life.
“Nadine was a remarkable young woman, courageous, intelligent and loving. Her infectious laugh and the beauty she brought to our lives will be forever missed.
“Nadine’s caring nature brought her close to many in our community and her murder has had a huge impact on everyone that knew her.
“Sammy Almahri tragically and maliciously ended a life with so much promise and only fully accepted responsibility when he realised the weight of the evidence against him.
“It is unimaginable for us as a family to understand the heinous crime that has been committed.
“We will continue to remember Nadine and the joy that she brought to us but our lives will never be the same.
“Sammy Almahri took the glue that held our family together and no sentence given to this man can compare to the sentence that he has given us.”