Final act of evil | 

Witnesses 'appalled' by killer Sameer Syed's crocodile tears at funeral of murdered family

As 'a final insult' killer Sameer Syed insisted that his victims be laid to rest in Ireland, rather than India, against Seema's family's expressed wishes

Sameer Syed put on a display of being a grieving husband and father, but he was the chief suspect

Patrick O'Connell

A Muslim Imam who was at the funeral of murdered Seema Banu and her two children has said both he and gardaí present knew of killer husband Sameer Syed's status as 'chief suspect' and were 'absolutely appalled' by his 'acts of grief' at the grave.

Shaykh Dr Umar Al-Qadri also described as 'a final insult' the killer's insistence that his victims be laid to rest in Ireland, thousands of miles from Seema's family and against their expressed wishes that their remains be repatriated to India for burial.

"He was a monster, simple as that," said Dr Al Qadri,

"He gave the appearance of being an observing Muslim but he clearly was not even a normal human being."

Triple killer Syed had been due to go on trial for the murders next week but died in his cell in the Midlands Prison on Thursday afternoon.

Shaykh Dr Umar Al-Qadri

Sources could not yesterday confirm prison rumours that Syed, who had twice tried to strangle his wife prior to the murders in October 2020, had told others he had received bad news from his legal advisors in the run up to his death.

Speaking about the day of the funeral of murdered Seema (37), Asfira (11) and Faizan (six) at Newcastle Cemetery on November 6 last year, Dr Al Qadri said knowledge of Sameer's status as chief suspect in their death was confined to only a handful of those present.

"He hadn't been arrested yet," Dr. Al Qadri recalled.

"So only very few of us knew - people like myself, because of my contacts with law enforcement, and of course the gardaí who were there watching.

"When you look at people like him and you realise what evil they have committed, and then they can act in this way, act like they are victims even though they have committed such heinous crimes, it makes me really, really angry.

"How can somebody kill his own children and wife and yet behave like that?

"Okay, if it doesn't work out, just walk away, it's as simple as that - live and let live.

"But for somebody to do something like this and then act as he did, I have absolutely no sympathy.

"When I read that he died in the prison, I honestly had no sympathy.

"And neither has anyone in the Muslim community - our community was extremely saddened by the death of Seema and her children."

Sameer Syed insisted that the coffins of his wife and children be opened at the funeral

Pictures taken at the funeral by the Sunday World showed the extent to which Syed hammed up his role as a grieving father and husband on the day of the burials - even having the coffins opened at the graveside so he could look down one last time at each of the family members he murdered.

But, said Dr Al Qadri, Syed's display of grief didn't fool those who suspected the truth.

"The gardaí who were there knew as well," he recalled.

"But there is a whole judicial process that has to take place and that is why people like myself, even though we were absolutely appalled at how he was acting, couldn't say anything.

"Obviously, we didn't know for sure he was the murderer, but we suspected him.

"There was also the fact his wife had already ended up in hospital once because of him assaulting her.

"But unless you are 100 per cent sure, you cannot accuse someone of murder."

Ahead of the funeral, Seema's family in Karnakata, India, had publicly and officially requested that the remains of her and the two children be repatriated there for burial.

However, as next of kin, Syed overruled them and insisted they be buried in Dublin.

Mum Seema, Asfira (left) and Faizan

"That is something that could and should have been dealt with differently," said Dr Al Qadri.

"Sure, he was the next of kin but he was also the chief suspect in the murder.

"The family in India had lost a daughter and their grandchildren so to be then deprived of participating in the last rites, that is something that they will always live with.

"It's like he denied them closure."

Asked if it was, in hindsight, a final insult, Dr Al Qadri said: 'Yes'.

Asked if it was possible the family's remains could now be repatriated to India, Dr Al Qadri said it was not.

"In Islam, once somebody is buried, we don't remove the remains, we don't do that," he said.

"It's so sad because when you look at the pictures you can see the children were so small.

"Look at the pictures … it just unbelievable that people can become monsters.

"It's really so sad."

Sameer Syed insisted that the coffins of his wife and children be opened at the funeral

Dr Al Qadri also highlighted the fact that Seema's death in 2020 and that of Zeinat Dashabsheh in 2021 mean that 20% of the women killed violently in the State in those years were Muslim.

"That is a huge over-representation of Muslim women in those figures because Muslims make up just 1.3% of the Irish population," he said

"That is really shocking and we need to look at solutions."

He calls for the increased inclusion of females from minority communities within the guards and increased training and educational opportunities to be allocated for female immigrants.

"We need to ensure there is flexibility in the immigration system so women are afforded independence and confidence - so they can report safely when they become victims," he said.

Asked if funeral arrangements have yet been decided for Syed, Dr Al Qadri said he did not know.

He said, as far as he knows, Syed has no next of kin in Ireland and so considered it unlikely that the killer will be buried in this country.

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