Seema Banu suffered years of beatings and torture at her abusive husband’s hands

Sameer Syed died by suicide in June 2022 – one week before he was due to stand trial for murder

Seema Banu with her daughter Asfira Riza (11) and son Faizan Syed (6)

Sameer Syed


For years, Seema Banu was subjected to horrendous physical abuse and emotional control at the hands of her husband.

Living in Ireland with little English, no family, and reliant on him financially, her first two weeks here consisted of daily beatings and torture.

Their daughter Asfira, who was just 11 when she died in October 2020, was also assaulted by her father at times.

On Christmas Eve in 2018 they got some respite from his violence when gardaí brought them to a women’s refuge.

The family returned home the next day.

The following April they travelled to India, where Ms Banu was once again beaten by Syed, this time in front of her shocked family.

She was hospitalised, and he travelled back to Ireland by himself on May 19.

Family members told an inquest this week that he tried to convince her to follow him with their children, telling her, “I won’t assault you again”, and “We will live happily from now on.”

Eventually in February 2020, the 37-year-old brought her daughter and son Faizan back to Dublin and settled in Llewellyn Court, Rathfarnham, with her husband.

The promises made by Syed were short-lived.

On May 15, Ms Banu made a video call to her family, crying throughout and expressing fears she would be killed.

Gardaí were called to the family home twice the next day, and the second time they discovered her unconscious in bed upstairs surrounded by her children.

Sameer Syed was arrested and later charged with assaulting his wife, and bail conditions meant he was not allowed near the family home.

Tusla also became involved, and plans for the family were put in place.

Social workers noted that, over the following weeks and months, Ms Banu began to defend her husband and deny he ever assaulted her.

Her nephew, Kashief Ahmed, said Syed convinced his wife that if she complained, gardaí would separate her from their children.

On August 9 she recorded a video, saying: “My husband loves me very, very much”, while describing the assault incident as a “misunderstanding”.

Sameer Syed

Nearly two months later, on October 3, she recorded another video with Asfira in which they claimed she fainted on the night of the assault after feeling dizzy.

Syed, despite being ordered to stay away from the house, was present when the recording was made.

It was one of 29 “ghosting” visits he made to the home in a two-month period.

On the morning of October 22, social worker Holly Nuzum met Seema Banu.

Ms Nuzum, whose dedication to the family was praised by the inquest jury, noted that the mother of two seemed stressed and unwell.

Seema was offered support, but declined.

As the social worker left, she said something that made Ms Banu smile.

“I told her she had a lovely smile, and she should do it more often,” Ms Nuzum told her. It was the last time she saw her alive.

At 8.05pm that evening, Syed left the property where he was living in Grosvenor Lodge, Rathmines, and walked a short distance to the nearby bus stop.

In an attempt to avoid detection, the cyber-security expert left his phone at home connected to the wi-fi.

CCTV footage showed him getting on the No 14 bus ­heading towards Rathfarnham.

Syed, a large man, disguised himself as a woman and wore an ankle-length dress, a large jacket, a face covering and dark glasses, while carrying a bag.

He took his seat downstairs as the bus made its way to Llewellyn Court.

Around half an hour later, CCTV footage showed him walking into the estate towards the family home, having changed into regular clothes.

Examinations from devices inside the home give some indication as to what happened next.

At 10.01pm, Seema Banu recorded a video on her mobile phone in which she re-­affirmed ­previous claims that her husband had not assaulted her in May.

The injuries, she said, had been self-inflicted, while she also showed a signed “final statement” in which she again denied being assaulted.

Gardaí believe her daughter Asfira penned the document in English at least a week earlier, because a picture of it had been sent to Syed’s phone on October 16.

Little Asfira was also seen on the video saying: “Dad loves us a lot. He loves us so much.”

The last communication from the mother came at 12.24am when she messaged neighbour Vivienne Balwalya, saying: “Won’t come to school tomorrow.”

Over the next four hours or so, gardaí believe Seema, Asfira and Faizan (6) were strangled by Syed.

The thorough garda investigation, led by Detective Inspector Vivian Rock, established that all electronic devices in the home went dead at 2am.

Two hours later at 4am, 38-year-old Syed left the house having murdered his family.

Gardaí traced his movements and discovered that he dumped the house keys in a drain around half a mile away. They were later recovered.

He also mailed a parcel containing documents to India, and that morning arrived at the courts in Dublin for his assault case against his wife.

On October 23, Syed responded to a text from Ms ­Balwalya about the case saying: “Hi Vivienne, please pray for us to get back to our normal life.”

At 10.30am on Wednesday, October 28, social worker Ms Nuzum arrived at 33 Llewellyn Court for an appointment with Ms Banu.

All of the blinds were drawn, the doors were locked, and Ms Nuzum became concerned.

Gardaí forced entry and found a tap in an upstairs bathroom had been left running, causing damage to the kitchen ceiling and flooding the house.

Asfira (11) and Faizan (6) were located lying face down, side-by-side, in an upstairs bedroom.

They each had a scarf wrapped around their neck with a knot at the rear. Asfira also had a plastic bag near her head.

Their mother was found on her bed in another room, lying supine on her back with a scarf around her neck, and her “final statement” placed neatly on the bedside locker.

All three died from asphyxia due to ligature strangulation.

Gardaí launched a murder inquiry and a family liaison officer was appointed to Syed who, in the initial stages at least, appeared a bereft father.

However, digital evidence showed that he was at the family home on the night of October 22, while forensics established that his fingerprint was found on the bag beside Asfira’s head.

He denied any involvement when arrested a month after the killings but was later charged with all three murders.

When he was shown the footage of himself dressed as a woman on the bus, Syed ­“capitulated”.

He admitted in interviews with Detective Sergeant Peter Woods that he was there on the night they were killed and that he was responsible for his wife’s death, but claimed “another party” murdered his children.

Syed was due to stand trial last June, but a week beforehand died by suicide while in custody in the Midlands Prison.

Ms Banu’s relatives, Syed Suhan and Kashief Ahmed, were present in court at the Dublin Coroner’s Court this week as the jury returned a verdict of unlawful killing for all three victims.

The coroner, Dr Clare Keane, praised the garda inquiry and Tusla while extending her ­sympathies to the family.

While the inquest answers some questions their family have, the death of Sameer Syed means that they will never truly know why he murdered his wife and two children that night.

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