Ilford man convicted of wife’s murder

A man has been found guilty of murdering his wife at their family home in Ilford.

Muhammad Ilyas, 41, of Kingston Road, was found guilty of the murder of Maria Rafael Chavez at the Old Bailey on Friday, June 10.

Police were called on the evening of May 13, 2021 after Ms Chavez was found unresponsive at a residential property in Kingston Road.

She was pronounced dead at the scene.

An initial investigation found Maria hadn’t suffered any obvious injuries and there were no signs of a disturbance. Officers arranged for a special post-mortem examination to establish how she died.

This was carried out on May 26, 2021 and revealed she had suffered compression to her neck, likely to have been as a result of being strangled.

Homicide detectives from the Met’s Specialist Crime Command carried out further enquiries, which included collecting CCTV evidence and speaking to neighbours.

This information, along with the pathologist’s findings, helped officers establish that Ilyas had killed Maria during the afternoon of May 13, 2021 while the couple’s three children were at school.

Ilyas was arrested and denied killing Maria, telling officers he believed she had died from natural causes.

The findings of the post-mortem examination disproved this.

The couple had moved the UK in 2019 and Ms Chavez was attending a college course to learn English at the time of her death. Ilyas was working on a market stall in Stratford.

Detective Chief Inspector Laurence Smith, from the Specialist Crime Command, said: “Ilyas has not offered any explanation about the circumstances that led to his wife’s death and has refused to accept responsibility for her murder.

“This is a tragic case that has left three children without their parents and I’m sure what they’ve been through will remain with them for the rest of their lives. My thoughts are with them and the rest of Maria’s family and friends.”

Ilyas will be sentenced at the Old Bailey on Friday, July 1.


Mick Ferris

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