Brutal crime  | 

Killer Sameer Syed dressed as woman to conceal murder of wife and two kids, gardai suspect

As part of the inquiry, it was investigated if he wore a hijab before and after the murders in an effort to hide his identity.

Sameer Syed in Newcastle Cemetery

Robin Schiller

Gardai investigating a man for the murders of his wife and two children suspected that he dressed as a woman in an attempt to hide his horrendous crime.

Sameer Syed was found dead in his prison cell on Thursday, just days before he was due to go on trial for the murders of Seema Banu (37), her daughter Asfira (11) and her son Faizan (6).

Their bodies were discovered in their home at Llewellyn Court, Ballinteer in south Dublin in 2020.

The murder charges will be formally dropped after Syed was found dead in the Midlands Prison on Thursday afternoon.

Sameer Syed (37) had previously been arrested and was charged with seriously assaulting his wife five months before her murder.

On October 28, 2020, concerns had been raised about his family's welfare after the mother and children hadn't been seen for a number of days.

Gardaí were alerted and members of the Armed Support Unit forced entry into the property shortly before midday.

Once inside they discovered the remains of Seema in one bedroom and her two children in a separate room. Examinations would later establish that they were all strangled with a ligature.

A garda alert was immediately issued for Sammer Sayed to establish his whereabouts. It stated that he may be armed and dangerous and was suspected of involvement in a serious crime.

The following morning, he appeared before the Criminal Courts of Justice in relation to the assault case.

An application by his defence did not proceed with the matter adjourned and in the confines of the court he met two senior detectives with his solicitor.

They spoke for over an hour in a consultation room but, as he was not under arrest, Mr Syed later walked out of the courts complex.

A garda inquiry continued with detectives reviewing CCTV footage, phone data and taking witness statements to try and place him at the scene during the time of the murders.

As part of the inquiry, it was investigated if he wore a hijab before and after the murders in an effort to hide his identity.

Gardaí said they were investigating all of the circumstances surrounding the murders, but Mr Syed was the only suspect at that time.

He later attended a funeral service for his wife and children, who were buried in the Muslim burial section of Newcastle Cemetery.

The ceremony was livestreamed so her family in India could watch. They later expressed upset at not being able to repatriate their bodies home.

Local Fine Gael TD Neale Richmond described it as a "further tragedy" as the victim's are now unlikely to get justice in a courtroom.

“This brings to a close a truly horrific chapter in our close-knit community’s history. We think of Seema Banu, Asfira Riza and Faizan Syed who died so brutally a couple of years ago.

“It is a further tragedy that it is now unlikely that their family or friends will ever see justice in the courts," he said.

Hundreds attended a vigil in the days after the tragedies to pay their respects to the family. Offers of support also poured into Ballinteer Educate Together, where Faizan was in first class and Asira a sixth class pupil.

Just weeks after the murder Mr Syed gave a number of newspaper interviews.

Speaking to the Sunday World, Syed broke down several times as he told of wishing he could turn back time before the murders.

“If God gave me one wish – only one wish in my life – I want to go back and be with my family happy," Sameer Syed said just a week after the murders he was suspected of carrying out.

“I’m a human being who has no power to do that thing to make everything like it was. If God could give me one wish and go back and be happy with my family. I wish it would go away like a bad nightmare.”

Gardaí also had concerns about Mr Syed's welfare and state of mind, and about the possibility that he could flee the country before they had a chance to arrest him.

He was placed under discreet 24/7 surveillance which included gardaí monitoring the city centre hotel where he was staying after the killings.

At the time, one source said it was hoped he would engage in a public appeal for information.

This, it was explained, was hoped to have a similar effect as the appeal made by killer Joe O'Reilly after he murdered his wife Rachel Callaly at their north Dublin home in 2004.

"He was the only suspect but gardaí wanted him to make an appeal with the hope of him tripping himself up which would assist the inquiry," the source said.

However, Mr Syed refused to assist the investigation and was described as being "unco-operative" when communicating with gardaí. Despite his reluctance, the inquiry continued and on November 28, 2020, he was arrested on suspicion of the killings and questioned at Blackrock Garda station.

The following day he was brought before Dublin District Court and formally charged with the murders of his wife and children. He was remanded in custody where he had remained until his death on Thursday.

Prison officials were alerted to the incident shortly after 3pm and he was pronounced dead, with authorities now carrying out an investigation into the incident.

"The cause of death is determined by the coroner’s office," a spokesman added.

Gardaí have also said that the results of the post-mortem examination would determine the course of their enquiries. At this stage no third-party involvement is suspected.

The charges are expected to be formally dropped in court next week and an inquest into the deaths will take place at a later date.

While this will offer some insight into the tragedy to their family and loved ones, the death of Sameer Syed means that no one will ever face justice for the murders of Seema Banu, Asfira Riza, and Faizan Syed.

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