Brothers who tried to drag sister into car after her secret wedding are jailed
17th September 2019

Two brothers who tried to drag their sister into a car in a suspected 'honour-based violence' have each been jailed for 11 months.

Paris-based businessmen Amir and Sharjal Mohammad were said to have disapproved of Rabia Mohammad's choice of husband, after she got married in secret.

She had met Daniel Kulagin in December last year while studying biomedical sciences at the University of Kent.

They married at a mosque in London in March after he converted to her Muslim faith.

But a court heard she kept the nuptials secret from her family in the belief they had wanted her to wed a cousin.

When she was said to have 'disappeared' for two days in May, the brothers travelled to the UK to 'seek her out'.

They visited her campus in Canterbury and spoke to her friends, one of whom showed them an Instagram post of Rabia's marriage certificate.

A court heard a 'tug of war' then played out in the street when the newlyweds were tracked down to Gillingham, Kent.

Nearby residents, including an off-duty police officer, initially thought they had witnessed a car crash.

But they were forced to intervene when Sharjal, 26, and Amir, 28, tried to drag their sister to their car as she screamed for help and desperately kicked out.

Mr Kulagin was also held by his neck as he went to his wife's aid while those trying to help Rabia were told by the brothers it was 'a family matter'.

Rabia eventually fled behind a concerned member of the public, who took her into his flat for safety to await the police's arrival.

The Mohammad brothers, who work in the hotel and service industry in France, were initially charged with attempted kidnap of their sister and assault of Mr Kulagin by beating.

But the prosecution agreed not to proceed with those offences – which were denied – when they both pleaded guilty to affray.

Maidstone Crown Court, Kent, also heard that Rabia and Mr Kulagin no longer supported the prosecution as the family had since reconciled and Mr Kulagin was 'welcomed without hesitation' by his father-in-law.

Jailing the brothers, who have spent four months as remand prisoners, Judge Adele Williams said: "Both of you travelled to Kent from Paris because your sister fell in love with a man of her choice.

"She married him in secret because she feared her choice would not be approved by your family.

"You sought them out and found them in the street.

"You tried to drag your sister away from her new husband and this event was seen by members of the public who were clearly very concerned indeed.

"This was wholly unacceptable behaviour. You were seeking to put your own wishes above those of your sister and her husband. It was really wrong.

"Her freedom of choice and her freedom to go about in the street was interfered with by your conduct.

"Happily, it appears now that everyone is reconciled….But in my judgment the appropriate sentence is one of immediate custody."

The court heard Amir, himself a former masters degree finance student, reported Rabia missing to police on May 6 and spoke to university security staff as to her whereabouts.

But violence flared two days later when the brothers confronted her and her husband.

Prosecutor Craig Evans said witnesses were alerted by the sound at about 7.20pm of what they thought was a car crash, before noticing the parties were 'disgruntled' with each other.

The three men were pushing each other before one of the brothers approached Rabia.

"He grabbed her with both hands and started to drag her away towards a silver hatchback," the prosecutor told the court.

"She was pushed to floor by the same male and it appeared to the off-duty officer that the male had his hands around her neck and hair.

"He then dragged her up and towards the car. She was screaming and kicking back in what appeared to be self-defence."

Mr Evans said there was then an altercation between the brothers and Mr Kulagin, which left him with a red mark to his neck.

Father and son Kevin and Samuel Costelloe then intervened, having come out of their nearby flat.

"They saw Rabia kicking and screaming and two men trying to drag her into the car," continued the prosecutor.

"She was saying 'No, no, don't let them take me. I don't want to go with them'. However, one brother grabbed her arm and the other was trying to grab her legs.

"She said 'Don't let them take me. I don't want to go with them' but one of the defendant's said 'This is a family matter. She is our sister. Give her to us'."

Rabia managed to free herself and stood behind Mr Costelloe Snr.

He and his son then took her into their home and called police.

The court heard witnesses were also concerned enough to take photographs and video footage of the incident.

At a previous hearing in June, Judge Williams was told by the prosecution that the offences as originally charged had 'a background of honour-based violence'.

But David Martin-Sperry, defending Sharjal, said the family were alarmed by her uncharacteristic disappearance and, having located her, simply wanted to talk to their sister.

"At that stage and from their perspective and from what they knew, they feared she might be being led astray," he told the court.

"Their purpose was to split the two and speak to their sister…There was a tug of war and the object of the exercise was to get her away from the husband and get her to talk.

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