Shortly after 7.00 am on Wednesday the 6th February 2008 a tramp was foraging for food at the rear of some shops at Kingsgate Place off the Kilburn High Road in London when he came across a blanket wrapped up in gaffer tape inside a supermarket cage. His superficial examination of the contents inspired him to alert the police. When officers later attended the scene they found the decapitated torso of a man inside the blanket.

The Metropolitan Police subsequently issued a statement which noted that a "decapitated body, believed to be an adult male, was found in a gold coloured cage similar to those used to move stock around in retail outlets and wrapped up in a duvet/blanket-type material behind shops" but that it was "not clear at this stage how long the body may have been in situ". A Murder Squad investigation was launched under the command of Detective Chief Inspector Jessica Wadsworth. The initial post-mortem on the body could not establish the cause of death due to the absence of the victim's head; however it did not take the Murder Squad that long to work out who was responsible, as on the following day one Mohamed Boudjenane was arrested at Alvaston in Derbyshire.

Following this arrest, on Saturday 9th February the police duly recovered the missing head from the Grand Union Canal, near Blomfield Road in Little Venice, and duly identified the deceased as being one Lakhdar Ouyahia. A second post-mortem carried out at the St Pancras mortuary on Sunday gave the cause of death as a blow from a blunt instrument, believed to be a claw hammer. Mohamed Boudjenane later appeared before Highbury Corner magistrates on the 11th February 2008 on a charge of murder and was remanded in custody.

During the subsequent investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Lakhdar Ouyahia it became clear that Boudjenane was responsible for something more than plain murder. It seemed that Mohamed Boudjenane had become obsessed with a Phillipino woman who worked as a nanny in Oxford and whom he had met at a party a few months previously. On Sunday 3rd February he ran into her outside a newsagents in Kilburn whilst she was on her way to church to sing in the choir. He then seized her mobile phone, and would only return it if she agreed to come to his flat. Reluctantly she agreed to do so, but once she was inside Boudjenane's flat he double locked the door and refused to release her. He then accused her of being a prostitute and of entertaining "the man upstairs", that is the aforementioned Lakhdar Ouyahia who lived in the flat above at Kingsgate Road in Kilburn. He threatened her with a knife, forced her to strip, hacked off all her hair and flushed it down the toilet together with the sim card from her mobile phone, and then shaved her head with an electric razor, telling her that she would not "need her hair in heaven". He also threatened to stab her and torture her with boiling fat, tied her up with shoe-laces, beat her, and raped her twice.

It was his apparent intention to kill her, but she managed to talk her way out of it by repeatedly promising to become a Muslim and marry him, and he therefore let her go the next day. It was clear that the woman in question did not then contact the police, as some hours later on the 4th February Boudjenane was free to turn his attention to Lakhdar Ouyahia, whom he attacked and killed with a blunt instrument and then proceeded to remove his head with a meat cleaver. He was next heard of visiting his local Sainsbury's at 8.00 pm that evening, where he purchased a bottle of Dettol, some bleach, and a mop, and was seen on the following day aboard a bus carrying an orange carrier bag. It was generally presumed that this orange Sainsbury's carrier bag contained Mr Ouyahia's head which Boudjenane was about to deposit in the Grand Union Canal.

Boudjenane later appeared at the Old Bailey on the 20th October 2008 where he was charged with false imprisonment and two counts of rape in addition to murder.

Although Boudjenane had told police that "I wanted to kill her but I killed him", and so admitted killing Ouyahia, he pleaded not guilty to murder on the grounds of diminished responsibility. He also plead not guilty to the other charges, as although he admitted tying the woman up, slapping her across the face, and threatening her with a knife, he denied trying to force her to perform sex acts and claimed that they'd had consensual sex. As he explained to the court, he believed that Ouyahia and the woman had been having an affair and that he had even seen them having sex a week before the killing. Indeed he claimed that he had "used a ladder and climbed it and saw them" and that this had made him "very angry". The woman in question (whose identity was not revealed) however denied that she had even met Ouyahia let alone been intimate with him, and insisted that she had not consented to the various acts she had performed with Boudjenane.

Boudjenane further claimed he had no memory of hitting Ouyahia with a hammer and hacking off his head with a meat cleaver, and explained this failure by claiming that he suffered from "high depression", for which he blamed "The religion. Sharia, Islam. It's about Islam and the law." He also stated that he liked going for walks naked in the middle of the night and said that a doctor had diagnosed him as a schizophrenic.

The jury was however unconvinced by this explanation and Boudjenane was convicted on all accounts. Judge Christopher Moss described him as "a very dangerous individual" and on the 6th November he was sentenced to life imprisonment with a recommendation that he serve a minimum term of twenty-two years. He was also sentenced to a further concurrent term of fifteen years for rape and false imprisonment.


  • Paul Keilthy, Forensic experts examining the crime scene, Camden New Journal, 7 February 2008
  • Man remanded over headless corpse, BBC News, 11 February 2008
  • Paul Keilthy, Forensic experts continued searching a house in Kilburn this week, Camden New Journal, 14 February 2008
  • David St George, Head-in-canal jury told of sex victim’s ordeal, Camden News, 23 October 2008
  • Tom Lawrence, Headless corpse suspect in court, Harrow Observer, Aug 8 2008
  • Neighbour 'carried head on bus', BBC News, 20 October 2008
  • Jail for headless corpse murder, BBC News, 6 November 2008
  • Man jailed for murder, rape and false imprisonment, Bulletin 0000001052 07 November 2008
  • Killer caught on bus CCTV with neighbour's head in a bag, Daily Telegraph, 07 Nov 2008

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