Endris Mohammed murder trial: Father who killed his children was 'mentally ill'
A 'loving' father-of-two suffocated his children and set fire to the family home as a result of his mental illness, a court heard.
Taxi driver Endris Mohammed suffered from a longstanding depressive disorder that explained how he shifted from happily playing with the youngsters to killing them just hours later, it was claimed.
Dr Sajid Muzaffar, a psychiatrist based at the Reaside Clinic, Birmingham, said: "It is not rational for a loving father to think his children better off dead than alive. To go from normality to the catastrophic events of later that day is a symptom of a depressive disorder. I believe it was an explanation for what happened."
Mohammed admits killing his son Saros, aged eight, and six-year-old daughter Leanor by holding a petrol-soaked rag over their faces before setting blaze to the house in Holland Road, Hamstead, Great Barr, in October last year but denies murder on the grounds of diminished responsibility in that he was mentally impaired at the time.
He also denies attempting to murder his wife who was sleeping upstairs. She was woken by the sound of the smoke alarm and managed to escape the property after unsuccessfully trying to rouse her children.
The 47-year-old claims he sank into a deep depression before deciding to kill himself and his family but after soaking the house in petrol decided he did not want his children to be burnt alive and so suffocated them first.
A jury at Birmingham Crown Court heard that he was under pressure due to money problems, lack of work and from his partner.
The prosecution assert that the decisions Mohammed made at the time were rational but defence witness Dr Muzaffar claimed Mohammed's thought processes were 'clouded by his depression.'
He also claimed Mohammed's Ethiopian background was significant as mental illness presented in different ways depending on culture, with some sufferers covering up their condition because mental illness carried a stigma in their culture.
Dr Muzaffar said this could have led Mohammed to outwardly behave 'normally' and prevent him from seeking help. He added: "There is also an expectation in some cultures for the father to be the provider and he wasn't able to fulfil that expectation."
In interview with Dr Muzzafar, Mohammed described his children as his 'best mates' and said his daughter was more like a mother to him.
"It was not like father and children, we were friends – they were my best mates," he said.
The trial continues.
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