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Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Architect stabbed wife, killed mother-in-law and himself in gas explosion after discovering his marriage was over

An architect stabbed his wife to death before blowing up his own house, killing himself and his mother-in-law, an inquest heard yesterday. 

Hugo Gye
Mail Online

A few days earlier, Hassan Rafie had warned his wife Mahnaz: 'You leave me, I will kill you and kill myself - if I can't have you no one else can.' 

He then tampered with a gas meter in order to trigger an explosion and fire which killed his mother-in-law Dolleh Mohanaei, who was in an upstairs bedroom at the couple's house in Bolton, Greater Manchester. 

Firefighters found the body of Mrs Rafie, 48, lying next to that of her husband, 49, in the kitchen of their home as gas leaked from the meter on December 9 last year. 

Mrs Mohanaei, 74, who had been staying with the couple while awaiting treatment for lung cancer, was found collapsed and was taken to hospital, where she was later pronounced dead. 

Bolton Coroners Court heard that Mrs Rafie died from four stab wounds to the chest, consistent with a serrated 17cm bladed hunting knife that was found in the kitchen, while Mr Rafie and Mrs Monahaei both died from burns and smoke inhalation. 

The couple, who were originally from Iran, were due to celebrate their silver wedding anniversary, and had two sons - Ommid, a newly qualified doctor, and medical student Arash. 
However, the inquest was told that the couple's marriage had broken down and Mr Rafie became 'controlling', checking his wife's phone

In a WhatsApp message to a friend two days before her death, Mrs Rafie wrote: 'Hassan kept crying so I left him to it. I had to tell him that me and him are finished. He kept telling me to stay.' 

The friend added that Mr Rafie had been speaking to his mother-in-law to try and save his marriage, and had told his wife: 'If I can't have you, no one else can'. 

Another friend told the police that Mrs Rafie had told her over the phone that her husband had said: 'You leave me, I will kill you and kill myself.' 

A forensic pathologist told the inquest that Mrs Rafie suffered injuries inflicted with 'significant force', with two stab wounds penetrating her lung, one 12cm deep between her ribs and another penetrating through her liver

The inquest heard evidence that a trail of petrol was found on the floor, while the charred remains of a petrol can and a cigarette lighter were also recovered. 

Duncan Thorpe of Greater Manchester Police said: 'We didn't find any evidence of any third-party involvement. It became apparent from speaking to a number of friends and family, the relationship between Mahnaz and Hassan had deteriorated. 

'From a diary we read, what it appeared was that going back as far as 2010, there were some problems within the marriage. Mr Rafie's own father had died, he was dealing with an inheritance claim over in Iran. 

'He was out of the country for some considerable time, it may have put pressure on the relationship. We have spoke to two main witnesses who were friends with Mrs Rafie and they gave further information into the state of the relationship. 

'What came out was Mr Rafie was quite controlling with Mrs Rafie, he would monitor her when on the phone, check her phone for texts. That was the picture that came out to us, culminated with a number of texts leading up to December 9.' 

He added that the investigation also found indications that she had been trying to get in touch with a solicitor with a view to getting a divorce. 

Mr Thorpe said he believed Mr Rafie - who had recently bought diesel, petrol and two petrol cans - was to blame for the tragedy. 

The couple's son Ommid insisted it would have been possible for a intruder to break in and subsequently leave the house, even though the doors were locked from the inside, and added that his father needed the fuel to restore his garden. 

Dr Rafie said: 'Having been given back the laptop, I think there is significant information which shows reflections of my father's mental state. 

'My point is, my dad had multiple searches, cancer trials, he had been looking at funeral arrangements. I think that's significant, that he was in a normal frame of mind. 

'He had emailed his dentist about gum treatment. He was addressing his affairs. The summary I take away from it was normal, someone forward planning and looking into future decisions at that time.' 

But Gary Jarvis, of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, dismissed the suggestion that a third party could have been involved. 

'If someone had done that they would never had time to shut and lock the door, there would have been an explosion,' he said. 'It would have been impossible to leave. Someone in the kitchen produced a naked flame to ignite the vapours.' 

Coroner Jennifer Leeming ruled that Mrs Rafie and her mother were unlawfully killed, whilst an open verdict was recorded into the death of Mr Rafie. 

She told the family: 'I have been more than impressed by the courage and dignity shown by yourself and your family. It is not easy coming to an inquest and this has been one of the hardest ones. 

'You have approached these proceedings as a family with the utmost courage and dignity.'
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