The man accused of beating a Sydney mother to death in her northern suburbs mansion had allegedly argued with her husband over money the day before, telling him “I will win in the end”.
The NSW Supreme Court heard on Tuesday that Shahnaz Qidwai, 65, was found dead in the bedroom of her home in Henley by one of her four adult children on the afternoon of June 15, 2012.
The man now facing trial for murder over the attack is Tony Halloun, a western Sydney concreter who had been contracted to fix the Qidwai family’s driveway and undertake other works.
In his opening address to the jury, Crown Prosecutor Giles Tabuteau told the jury that Mrs Qidwai’s husband, a local doctor, had hired Mr Halloun on the recommendation of his parents.
However, some weeks after the work had begun, the driveway had still not been completed, and the Qidwais had refused to pay Mr Halloun the remaining money for the work until it was completed.
The court heard that, the day before the alleged murder, Mr Halloun, who was alleged to have significant debts, confronted Mr Qidwai at his Croydon doctor’s surgery demanding the remaining cash.
“When the doctor arrived at the surgery, the accused confronted him and demanded $3500 for the completion of the job,” Mr Tabuteau told the jury in his opening address.
“The doctor said ‘you will be given the money when you have finished'.
“Dr Qidwai will tell you the accused’s tone was aggressive and he said ‘I will win in the end’.”
Mr Halloun allegedly rang to apologise later in the day, and showed up at the Henley mansion with his assistant the next day to continue the building work.
The court heard that throughout the course of the day, Mrs Qidwai, who had stayed home to oversee the work, called her husband a number of times to say that the concreter had said he was suffering from cramps and needed to come inside and use the toilet.
This was the last time he spoke to his wife before her violent death.
At 2pm, the couple’s youngest child, Maha Qidwai, had arrived home to find the electric gates to the three-storey home open, and her mother’s slip-on shoes strewn on the floor.
“Maha called her mother but there was no answer,” Mr Tabuteau told the jury.
“She went into Mrs Qidwai’s bedroom and found her lying on the floor. She had bruising and blood on her face and mouth and she was cold to the touch.”
A post mortem later found that the direct cause of death was blunt-force injuries. But the 65-year-old was also suffering injuries similar to those inflicted by an electric stun device.
Police later found that $3420 had been taken from various envelopes at the home. Mrs Qidwai had stored this money in a plastic tray to pay staff from her husband’s surgery, and to give to the couple’s four children.
When interviewed by police, Mr Halloun initially said he knew nothing about the murder.
More to come