A woman who suffered a violent death with her two children in their south Dublin home three years ago spoke of her fear that she would be killed by her husband within two weeks of arriving in Ireland in late 2018.
The bodies of Seema Banu (37) and her children – daughter, Asfira (11) and son, Faizan (6) – were discovered almost two years later in their home in Llewellyn Court, Ballinteer, Co Dublin on October 28th, 2020.
An inquest into the deaths of the three victims on Thursday heard Ms Banu told a supermarket security guard who had seen her and her children crying and in distress on Christmas Eve in 2018, that they were being beaten and tortured by her husband, Sameer Syed.
A sitting of Dublin District Coroner’s Court on Thursday heard that Ms Banu had stated: “He is dangerous. He will kill me and I just want to go back to India.”
Ms Banu also repeatedly told people with whom she came in contact that she wanted to return home to India as she and her children had been forcibly brought to Ireland by Syed.
Evidence was heard that Ms Banu had money and passports ready since mid-2019 to try and flee from Syed but also that she kept changing her mind.
She had been threatened by her husband that if she reported him to the authorities that gardaí would take her children away from her and she would not be able to see them again until they were 18.
A nephew of Ms Banu, Syed Suhan, revealed that Syed had left India in 2019 before he faced a charge of assaulting his wife.
The coroner, Clare Keane, said she had an official report that recorded Ms Banu had been brought to a hospital in India on May 1st, 2019 after being assaulted by a relative.
Following the discovery of the bodies of Ms Banu and her children in October 2020, Syed was later arrested and charged with their murders.
However, Syed (38) took his own life in his cell at the Midlands Prison in Portlaoise in last June just a week before he was due to go on trial at the Central Criminal Court.
Syed had appeared in court a few days before the discovery of the bodies of his wife and children on a charge of assault causing harm to Ms Banu on May 16th, 2020. The inquest heard gardaí were twice called to the family home at Llewellyn Court after receiving reports of domestic violence on that date.
Syed had initially appeared before Dublin District Court on May 18th, 2020 where he was refused bail following a Garda objection.
Syed was subsequently released from custody on condition that he did not return to the family home and the inquest was informed that he went to stay with a friend in Rathmines.
Det Garda O’Neill said Syed had twice unsuccessfully applied for his bail conditions to be varied to allow him to return to Llewellyn Court.
In other evidence the inquest heard that gardaí and social workers first became aware that Ms Banu and her children were the victims of domestic violence after they were alerted by Dunnes Stores staff in Sandyford on Christmas Eve in 2018.
A security guard, Kamran Khan, said he was approached by his manager while he was off-duty in the store to ask if he spoke Hindi.
Mr Khan explained that staff were concerned about a woman and two small children who were crying in the store.
Ms Banu and her daughter were seen being pulled and forcibly grabbed by a male in their company.
Although a native of Pakistan and an Urdu speaker, Mr Khan said he was able to translate what Ms Banu was saying.
He said she said she needed help and wanted to go back home to India because her husband was beating and torturing her and their children “very badly”, including earlier that day.
They were given food including chocolate after staff learnt that Ms Syed and her children had not eaten since the previous evening.
The inquest heard other supermarket staff had prevented her husband from coming into the store while Mr Khan was speaking to Ms Syed.
Mr Khan said Asfira had also told him that she had been beaten by her father.
The inquest heard the girl had stated: “He is dangerous. He is beating us.”
A former garda, Aisling Long, who responded to the call from Dunnes Stores, said Ms Banu did not want to make a formal complaint, although she had admitted that her husband used to slap her, hold her throat and speak “dirty words” to her.
Ms Long, who reported the incident to Tusla, said she returned with the family to their home where both Ms Banu and Syed were upset before she brought her and the two children to a shelter in Blanchardstown.
The hearing before a jury of six women and two men will resume on Friday.