Cocaine and gambling addict, 28, strangled girlfriend to death

Cocaine and gambling addict, 28, strangled marketing manager girlfriend to death with dressing gown cord then texted drug dealer saying he ‘got rid’ of her before killing himself days later, inquest hears

  • Amani Iqbal was murdered by her boyfriend Jay Dawes on New Year’s Eve 2020
  • Just two days later he drove into a parked HGV lorry – and was killed instantly
  • Waltham Forest Coroner’s Court heard the couple spoke about having children

A marketing manager was strangled to death by her cocaine and gambling addict boyfriend who then sent a text to his drug dealer saying he had ‘got rid’ of her before killing himself days later. 

Jay Dawes, 28, killed his university graduate girlfriend Amani Iqbal, also 28, with a dressing gown cord and left her in a bathtub at her home in Walthamstow, east London, an inquest at Waltham Forest Coroners Court heard.

Dawes then sent a text to his drug dealer saying he had ‘got rid’ of Amani shortly after she was last seen on New Year’s Eve 2020.

Just days later on 2 January 2021, he drove his Peugeot into a HGV lorry that was parked in a layby near Saffron Walden, Essex. The lorry burst into flames and Dawes was killed almost instantly.

Miss Iqbal, a Durham University graduate who worked as a marketing propositions manager for Sainsbury’s, was found after Dawes’s death.

Waltham Forest Coroners Court in east London was told how the couple had been talking about getting married, having babies and getting a dog in the days before she died.

The couple were seen on CCTV holding hands together just hours before the killing.

Marketing manager Amani Iqbal, 28, was strangled to death by her cocaine and gambling addict boyfriend Jay Dawes, also 28, at her home in east London on New Years Eve 2020 – who then sent a text to his drug dealer saying he had ‘got rid’ of her before killing himself days later

Amani’s mother Samina Iqbal said that she last saw her daughter on New Year’s Eve 2020, when she came round to her mother’s for lunch.

Her mother then sent her a text in the evening and got no reply which was ‘unusual’.

Her mother added that she believes her ‘last texts’ sent to her dad and friends to wish them Happy New Year on WhatsApp were not sent by her because they contained spelling and grammar mistakes. The family said they believe she was killed on New Years Eve.

Miss Iqbal was last seen on CCTV crying as her boyfriend closed the curtains at their flat just after 9pm on that day.

He began texting his drug dealer Brian Alexander within an hour, and within the time between her disappearance and his car crash, the pair exchanged around 60 texts and met in person three times.

Mr Dawes also withdrew £250 three times and drove Amani’s Fiat 500 during that period, and on one occasion he withdrew the money on her card and bought pizza.

Miss Iqbal’s lifeless body was found on 3 January 2020 in the bath at their flat in Walthamstow.

Her t-shirt was partially removed and a dressing gown, believed to have been used as a ligature, was found in the bathroom but was not around her neck.

A bag of ice was found on top of her body, and he had been caught on CCTV buying ice shortly after she was last seen.

Pink plastic gloves were found in the bathroom, a clump of hair was found in the hallway and blood stains were found on the hinge of the door.

Pathologist Dr Olaf Biedrzycki said: ‘It [the cause of death] appears to be compression of the neck caused by a third party.’

Police also said their findings at the scene were also consistent with an unlawful killing, the hearing was told.

Taking to the witness stand, Brian Alexander said he could not remember details of texts he exchanged with Mr Dawes between the last time Amani was seen and when Mr Dawes killed himself.

He appeared very nervous and anxious and was breathing heavily as he gave evidence and was cross-examined by the coroner and lawyers for Miss Iqbal’s family.

He said they had known each other ‘for a few years’ but only got back in touch at Christmas 2020 when they exchanged messages.

He insisted the texts were about whether Mr Dawes could help his mum with her garden and Mr Dawes asked to borrow £50.

He said in his police statement: ‘I have known him for a couple of years through friends and he did gardening and fencing.

‘On New Years Eve 2020 I got a text from him saying he had got rid of her or broken up with his girlfriend, I can’t remember the exact words he used.

‘He said had got another girlfriend who he had broken up with and now he was happy again. He appeared upbeat and happy.’

He claimed he could not remember reading texts where Mr Dawes spoke about his girlfriends, whether he spoke about girlfriends when they met up and whether he said he had ‘got rid of her’ or not.

He added: ‘I can’t remember any of these calls or sending any of these texts.

‘People say they have got rid of a pair of shoes or a car, that doesn’t mean they have killed them.’

Met Police Detective Superintendent Steve Ramshaw said Mr Alexander was being ‘economical’ with the truth.

Miss Iqbal’s GP told the hearing there was no evidence she had any physical or mental health problems.

She did not leave a suicide note and there is no evidence the pair had made a suicide pact.

A toxicology report found she had 135 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood in her system. The legal limit is 80 milligrams.

Amani’s mother told the inquest, in evidence that was read out by the Coroner: ‘The circumstances surrounding her tragic death are to this day unclear.

‘Our family is still in shock and struggling to make sense of such a sudden and unexpected event. Growing up she was a happy and active girl who loved school. She loved playing and was very bright.

‘She went to Grange Park Prep School and then The Latymer School, a grammar school, and did very well in her GCSEs and A Levels before attending Durham University, graduating with an economics degree in 2013.

‘She took a gap year and travelled with her boyfriend at the time. She spent four months in South Korea teaching English and then travelled around Asia and South America.

‘In July 2014 she was back in the UK and she did a masters at Cass Business School and the following year she was working for a media agency. She started a new position at Sainsbury’s head office and worked on beauty products for a time.

‘She maintained strong friendships with her school girlfriends. She only had two boyfriends before starting a relationship with Jay.

‘At first their relationship went very well and they moved into a flat in Bounds Green together. We often had them over and went to their house for lunch.

‘However, I soon saw him undermining her friendships with her closest school friends, which turned her against them to some degree.

Waltham Forest Coroners Court (pictured) in east London was told how the couple had been talking about getting married, having babies and getting a dog in the days before she died

‘Then he changed and he decided he didn’t want to be with her. She came back to live with me. I was taken aback by the fact that they broke up but they never completely broke away from each other.

‘They kept speaking and seeing each other as friends but I didn’t like the way he treated her.

‘She told me about his depression, instability, previous suicide attempts, lack of work and the fact he had debts.

‘He told her repeatedly his family didn’t care about him and they only got back together when she bought a flat in Walthamstow in 2018.

‘Their relationship became obscure and I thought he was not a good influence on her. We had a wonderful relationship and spent a lot of time together.’

In summary, Miss Iqbal’s family’s lawyer Rachel Barrett said: ‘The family ask the coroner to record a verdict of unlawful killing.

‘The standard of proof is the balance of probabilities and if you can reach findings amounting to either manslaughter or murder then that would suffice on the balance of probabilities.

‘We suggest it is the just most likely explanation for her death, it is the only evidence that fits the evidence you have heard.

‘Significant pressure was applied to her neck over 15 to 30 seconds using a ligature and that is an unlawful act.

‘It is objectively dangerous, it is objectively likely to cause harm and death resulted.’

Mr Dawes’ mother Jane told the hearing she did not believe balance of probabilities was a high enough standard of proof and insisted her son was ‘the most placid person’ and was ‘generally shy’.

Recording a conclusion of unlawful killing, Area Coroner for East London Nadia Persaud said: ‘The injuries are strongly indicative of third party involvement.

‘There is only a theoretical possibility that she caused the injuries to herself and if she had done so the ligature would still have been there; it was not.

‘There is no clear evidence of intent to record a conclusion of murder.

‘Placing a ligature around someone’s neck with such force to cause these injuries would meet the test for unlawful killing.

‘The medical cause of death is compression of the neck.

‘It is likely on the balance of probabilities that she was unlawfully killed.

‘I would like to express my deepest sympathies to the family and I am very sorry for your loss.’

Mr Dawes’ inquest was also due to take place, but had to be adjourned to a later date which was not set.

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