An obsessive man has been jailed for suffocating a student with a face mask in a jealous rage then dumping her body in undergrowth inside a large suitcase.

Muhammad Arslan, 27, forced a floral patterned mask into the mouth of 21-year-old Hina Bashir after she visited his flat in Ilford, in July last year.

He claimed he had only meant to quieten her after he confronted her over naked photographs of her that he had been sent.

The prosecution rejected his explanation as “elaborate and concocted” and asserted he had killed her out of anger and jealousy.

Arslan, of Natal Road, admitted manslaughter on the first day of his trial but denied murder and perverting the course of justice by concealing Hina’s body.

A jury at the Old Bailey found him guilty of the charges on Wednesday (June 21).

In his evidence, Arslan claimed that he had been friends with Hina since she was 11 and romance had followed, even though they could not meet openly for cultural reasons.

He admitted it was a “fantasy” that she was his fiancee but he still wanted to have a relationship.

Judge Richard Marks KC sentenced him on Friday (June 23) to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 20 years for the murder and five years running concurrent for perverting the course of justice.

The judge told Arslan: “I am satisfied…that your unrequited feelings for Hina boiled over and resulted in you taking hold of a face mask and forcing it into the back of her mouth which led to her collapse and ultimately to her death from asphyxiation.”

Romford Recorder: Arslan has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 20 yearsArslan has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 20 years (Image: Met Police)

He added that Arslan’s “prime motivation” was to save himself after killing Hina, from Manor Park.

He said Arslan embarked on a “campaign of lies” to conceal what he had done, “lying to all and sundry” before disposing her body in a “shocking and callous manner”.

Hina’s father, Bashir Khan, made an impact statement which was read out in court in which he asserted that “animals would treat my daughter better”.

“He treated her in a heinous and brutal way,” Mr Khan added.

The father spoke of how Hina’s death has traumatised his family and how they loved their “beautiful, bubbly girl”.

The court heard during the trial how Arslan and Hina grew up in the same village in the Faisalabad district of Pakistan.

From the age of 11, Ms Bashir had been befriended via text message by the then 17-year-old defendant, it was alleged.

At one point, Arslan declared: “How wonderful it is that I have found my princess in the house right next to mine.”

Hina went on to reject his advances and had a boyfriend in Pakistan and another after moving to the UK in November 2021 to study business management at Coventry University’s London campus, the court heard.

She also worked part-time for a security company at Queen Mary University London.

Within months of her arrival, Arslan had followed her, enrolling at the University of Essex for a masters degree in data science and applications and working part-time in a warehouse, jurors heard.

Arslan already had a masters degree in maths and quantum physics from the University of Faisalabad and had given up a job as the manager of a pharmacy to travel to the UK, jurors were told.

On the evening of July 11 last year, Hina and two female friends had visited Arslan’s flat to collect some belongings she had left there while moving.

When Hina did not come out, her friends had to leave without her and the student was never seen alive again, jurors were told.

Having killed her, Arslan put her body into a suitcase in the bedroom he shared with a friend and stored it there overnight.

Arslan then spent hours trawling through her private messages and photographs on her mobile phone, the court was told.

The prosecution said Arslan set off from his house the next morning dragging a suitcase containing Hina’s body, travelling to an industrial estate by the M25 near Upminster where he hid the suitcase in some undergrowth to the side of a lane.

Romford Recorder: Hina was 21 when she was murderedHina was 21 when she was murdered (Image: Met Police)

After the killing, Arslan had deleted his contacts from Hina’s phone, lied to police about Hina’s disappearance and made inquiries about travelling to Northern Ireland and Birmingham.

An examination of his phone revealed the extent of his obsession with Hina before and after she travelled to the UK.

He had repeatedly declared his love for her and reacted with shock on learning she had found someone else.

Police found a large number of photographs of Hina, including collages of her image, on Arslan’s phone. Love hearts had been added on some pictures.

Following Arslan’s conviction, Det Ch Insp Dave Whellams, said: “Arslan was obsessed with Hina to the point that he told people they were engaged and said they should have children together. This relationship was completely in his mind.

“Our investigation showed that Arslan was unable to live with the fact Hina did not want to be with him. It was this rejection that tragically led to her death.

“Once Arslan had murdered Hina he did everything he could to cover his tracks but the evidence gathered by our team left no doubt in our mind as to his guilt.

“We are pleased the jury felt the same way and our thoughts now continue to remain with Hina’s family and friends who are dealing with an incomprehensible loss.”