Tue, June 15, 2004

15 years for stepmom

KANEEZ FATIMA must spend 15 years in prison before she can seek parole for her role in the "barbaric" murder of her 5-year-old stepdaughter, Farah Khan, a judge ruled yesterday. Justice David Watt said Muhammad Arsal Khan was the actual killer of his natural daughter, Farah, in December, 1999. He was sentenced to life imprisonment with no chance of parole for 25 years. Khan dismembered and decapitated the child and bagged her body parts "like refuse."

Watt said he, like the jury, rejected Fatima's version that she tried to save Farah but was repelled by Khan, who was in a homicidal rage.


Khan abused his child and Fatima, just as he had cruelly treated Farah's mother earlier, Watt said.

But Fatima assisted in the cover-up of the crime, Watt said, and was "not the mere spectator immobilized by fear.

"She did nothing to stop the onslaught," Watt said in deciding Fatima will not be eligible to apply for parole until Jan. 19, 2015 -- five years longer than the minimum 10 years. She was convicted of second-degree murder and is serving a life term.

"She committed an egregious breach of trust. This wasn't the first time that Farah Khan was abused and this must have occurred in Fatima's presence," Watt said.

Fatima helped Khan dispose of the child's limbs and torso in Colonel Samuel Smith park by carrying some bags inside a knapsack and then keeping a lookout as Khan buried them on the rocky shoreline.

Fatima also tearfully lied to teacher Heather Cartwright with a tale of her dying mother to conceal the murder, Watt said.

"This was a horrible crime that greatly affected our community," said Crown attorney David Fisher, who had argued for Fatima's parole eligibility to be set at between 18 and 20 years.

Defence lawyer John Collins sought the minimum 10 years for his client, whom he portrayed as a victim of two abusive arranged marriages who loved and cared for Farah as if she were her own child.


While he praised Watt for running a fair trial, Collins said he was considering appealing both the conviction and sentence.

Ten of the jurors who convicted Fatima recommended raising the parole eligibility period to between 15 and 25 years. Fatima, who has already been in jail for more than four years, will be able to apply for parole on Jan. 19, 2015.