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Killer grocer pretended to cry when he 'found' wife's body - but teen saw through him

Muhammad Ilyas, 41, killed Maria Chavez at their home in London then staged an elaborate cover-up and pretended to be shocked when he found her body - but a teen witness saw through his "fake" tears

A grocer who strangled his wife to death screamed in pretend shock when he "found" her body.

Muhammad Ilyas, 41, killed Maria Chavez, 32, at their home in Ilford, east London, then staged an elaborate cover-up.

He went out to meet relatives to set up an alibi and give an imagined 'killer' a chance to come into the house and murder his wife.

Ilyas made calls to his wife's mobile after he had murdered her and then pretended to find her body on the first floor landing when he returned to the house and burst into hysterical tears.

But a teenage witness at the scene was convinced it was all an act and her evidence helped an Old Bailey jury convict Ilyas of murder.

Ilyas showed no emotion as he was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 18 years.

Judge Nigel Lickley, QC, told him: "You killed Maria by compressing her neck forcefully with a ligature.

"Why you did that has not been explained by you. You did not give evidence at your trial and your case was that a stranger entered your home that afternoon and killed your wife. That evidence was rejected by the jury."

Referring to Ms Chavez's family, the judge added: "They will suffer the loss of Maria for the rest of their lives. Milestones in their lives will pass and the sharing of important events will lack Maria's presence, support and love.

To Ilyas, judge Lickley said: "You betrayed her.

"And for some reason only you know you took her life. You murdered a good and kind person.

"Whatever the reason, and there was one, something caused you to react in a very violent and disturbing way. You were able in a very shot time, having killed Maria, to compose yourself.

"Why you killed Maria is not known. Only you know.

"Having made a decision to kill her you first hit her in the mouth causing injury and then you strangled her, I find, with an item of clothing or a towel. For a time Maria would have resisted.

"You have offered no explanation today or offered no regret or remorse. You made no effort to save her. You left her where you killed her."

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