Man stabbed girlfriend to death paranoid she 'turned into a devil'

Cannabis smoker stabbed student girlfriend, 19, to death paranoid she had ‘turned into a devil’, court hears

  • Maher Maaroufe, 23, pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Sabita Thanwani 
  • Will not face murder trial on grounds of diminished responsibility 
  • Court heard how the defendant suffers from paranoia and hallucinations

A killer repeatedly stabbed his 19-year-old student girlfriend to death after he believed she had turned into the devil, a court has heard.

Maher Maaroufe, 23, pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of City University psychology undergraduate student Sabita Thanwani in Clerkenwell, central London, on March 19, 2022.

The Tunisian native denied it was murder on the grounds of diminished responsibility due to his diagnosed schizo-affective disorder. 

At his latest hearing at the Old Bailey, the court heard how cannabis smoker Mr Maaroufe suffers from paranoia and hallucinations and believed Ms Thanwani had turned into a male devil before his eyes on the night in question.

Dr Christian Brown, a consultant psychiatrist who has been treating Mr Maaroufe at Broadmoor maximum security hospital, also told the court that Mr Maaroufe was unaware of what he had done at the time of committing the violent act.

Sabita Thanwani, a 19-year-old student, was studying at City of London University, near to the accommodation where she died

Maher Maaroufe, 23, is believed to have been in a relationship with Ms Thanwani

Dr Brown said: ‘By his accounts, he believed that Sabita turned in front of his eyes into a devil, a male one at that, he describes killing a male figure.

‘He sensed that he had done something wrong, which by his accounts appears to have come to him in the minutes or hours after the offence. 

‘Despite having been charged with her murder, I do not know if he knew what he had done at the time. 

‘The level of violence here is very extreme and his behaviour afterwards, wearing women’s clothes, going away, hiding, headbutting a police officer, the basis of it is the psychotic illness.’ 

READ MORE: Boyfriend ‘stabbed psychology student before head-butting police officer’

A court heard how police were called to Arbour House in Sebastian Street after a neighbour heard the victim telling Mr Maaroufe to stop, before telling him: ‘I can’t breathe. You’re going to kill me.’

Officers made their way into Miss Thanwani’s room, where they found her lying on the floor, under blankets, with a serious neck injury. She had suffered 18 cuts to her face, neck and chest area.

She was then pronounced dead at the scene at 6am.

The court then heard that Mr Maaroufe, wearing a white shirt and blue tie in court, had put on a balaclava and fled before police officers arrived at the building. 

He was found by police sleeping under tarpaulin in a garden shed the next day and head-butted a detective constable. 

The prosecution indicated that the plea was acceptable to the Crown and Maaroufe will not face trial for her murder. 

He also pleaded guilty to a charge of assault by beating an emergency worker. 

It was also revealed that Mr Maaroufe, appeared in court flanked by four dock officers, had entered the UK legally some years ago but he was served with a deportation notice as an over-stayer on August 14, 2019.

He has since applied for asylum but the matter remains unresolved.

The defendant, of no fixed address, was assisted by an Arabic interpreter and was remanded back into custody. 

Mr Maaroufe will return for sentence at the Old Bailey on 8 December.



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