Inquest into Rottingdean death

12 August 2010, 14:13

An inquest has today given a verdict of unlawful killing into the death of a woman who was found in her burning bungalow with severe head injuries.

A post-mortem examination found she had six lacerations to her scalp, likely to have been caused by separate blows.

Her left index finger was fractured and her right was bruised, which were likely to be injuries caused by her trying to defend herself, the inquest heard.

Giving evidence, Detective Chief Inspector Steve Johns of Sussex Police's major crime branch said she had been attacked by a metal lintel later found dumped near the bus stop which Mr Soboh said he had been waiting at until he realised he had forgotten his phone.

The lintel, which was around 2ft long, had traces of Mrs Knowles-Samarraie's blood on it and was found to have come from the bungalow.

After being attacked her body was then set alight and white spirit was used as an accelerant, a bottle of which was also found at the property.

Mr Johns said the police investigation explored the Yorkshire-born widow's colourful life living in Iraq and her subsequent escape home after her oil minister husband and son were executed under Saddam Hussein's regime.

But he said they had found no other suspects for her murder and she had no enemies nor had been frightened of anyone.

There were also no signs of forced entry at the house.

The detective told the inquest her close friend Brian Sutherland was spoken to by police and he said she had been ``her normal jolly self'' when he last saw her a few days before her death, although he was aware she sometimes argued with her daughter.

No alcohol or drugs apart from painkillers were found in her system, and she had no underlying health problems that could have caused her death, the inquest heard.

During the trial at Lewes Crown Court, jurors were told that Mrs Knowles-Samarraie had originally been married to Mr Soboh in a marriage of convenience, but they later divorced and he married her daughter.

In 2007 she had a book published about her experiences living under Saddam's dictatorship, entitled I Never Said Goodbye.

No family or friends attended the inquest as it was heard that after being cleared of her murder, Mr Soboh joined his wife and children in Jordan where they now live.

After hearing the evidence, assistant deputy coroner for Brighton and Hove, Karen Henderson recorded the verdict of unlawful killing.

After the hearing, Mr Johns said in a statement:

``We have reviewed the inquiry to see if there might be any future lines of inquiry, but none have emerged.

``Our investigation was thorough. Mrs Knowles-Samarraie was killed in her home using a weapon from the house, there was no forced entry to the house and there was no evidence of an intruder.

``Additionally, all of her possessions were intact, suggesting that robbery was not a motive.''