- Simone Jabakhanji, 27, moved to Gambia in 2009 to be with Mohammed after the pair met during a family holiday
- In the days before her death she told family and friends she was fearful of him and his aggressive behaviour
- He was arrested by Gambian police for her murder but later released
- British coroner critical of Gambian authorities for failing to disclose details of her death and says there is not enough evidence that it was suicide
A bride who joked about her new husband ‘breaking her legs’ was found dead at their home after he found out he was infertile.
Simone Jabakhanji, 27, from Leyland in Lancashire had been rowing with her businessman husband Mohammed, 29, after he was given the devastating news by doctors, an inquest into her death was told.
In the days leading up to her death she even told her mother back in England that she was frightened of him and needed to give him ‘quiet space.’
But she was found hanged at their home in the West African country’s capital city of Banjul, on August 13, 2011.
Tragic: Simone Jabakhanji moved to Africa from Lancashire to start a new life with her husband Mohammed but was found hanged at their home shortly after he discovered he was infertile
Just a year earlier Simone had married Mohammed Jabakhanji in a Gambian beach ceremony attended by her family including brother Paul Lally and mother Janice Lally.
The pair met during a family holiday and although her family initially had reservations, Mrs Jabakhanji moved to Gambia to be with her future husband in 2009 and married him a year later on Valentine’s day 2010.
In the immediate aftermath of her death Mohammed was arrested for her murder by Gambian police but he was later released.
At an inquest in Preston, coroner Simon Jones said there had been no co-operation from the Gambian authorities on their investigation and that he could not be certain her death had been suicide.
He said there had been repeated requests through Interpol, the Foreign Office and the Gambian High Commissioner, but only a limited amount of detail had been revealed.
He also added that no autopsy had been carried out in Gambia and Mrs Jabakhanji’s body had been embalmed before repatriation to England, possibly removing vital clues surrounding her death.
Happier times: Simone and her husband, who was known as Carlos, pictured on their wedding day in a Gambian beach ceremony
Mr Jones said: ‘There’s very little information about the surrounding circumstances, she was discovered to be hanging at her property. There is no indication as to how Simone came to be there.
‘When a death like this happens in this country we get police statements, photographs of the scene.
‘When we are dealing with deaths that occur outside England and Wales we are almost entirely dependent on the authorities in that country to provide us with information.
‘As a coroner I have no power to require witnesses who live abroad to attend.
Recording an open verdict he added: ‘To record a verdict of suicide in the UK I have to be satisfied to a very high standard of proof that she did what she did intending to end her own life.
‘But we can’t be certain what she did was done with the intention of ending her life. That would be at odds with the conversations she had with family and friends.
‘Similarly there is no evidence to suggest anyone else was involved.
‘I have had no response to the letters I have written to the Gambian authorities.
‘I appreciate that the family have concerns about that, but that is something for the Gambian authorities to investigate.’
Dream wedding: Simone pictured at her beach wedding on Valentine’s day in 2010 with her mother Janice and Peter Lally in Banjul, Gambia
The hearing was told that Simone and her family had been travelling to Gambia for many years and she had met her future husband on one of those trips and had moved to Gambia to be with him.
At the time of her death the couple had just returned to Gambia from Ghana, where she had been staying with her in-laws whilst Mohammed underwent medical tests.
But Mrs Jabakhanji’s best friend told the court that shortly before her death she had complained that her husband’s family did not like her.
Abigail Stone, told the inquest she last spoke to Simone via video chat on Skype on the day of her death and that she was worried Mohammed’s family had accused her of disrespecting the family.
She said: ‘She was telling me about an argument she had the night before. One of his sisters didn’t really like Simone, she had been causing some arguments.
‘Initially she had been upset they had argued, she would always phone me for advice.
‘I felt he needed space because he had found out that he couldn’t have children.’
Miss Stone said she told Mrs Jabakhanji to come home to England for a break to give her husband some space, but that her friend had insisted on remaining with her husband.
But the inquest heard that the couple began to fight after results showed Mohammed could not have children because of his unhealthy lifestyle.
Despite the devastating news that her new husband could be infertile Mrs Jabakhanji’s mother Janice said she seemed ‘normal’ when they spoke on the day of her death
Simone’s mother Janice Lally also gave evidence at the inquest, and said she also spoke to her daughter on the evening of her death about Mohammed, who was also known as Carlos.
Mrs Lally said: ‘She phoned quite often. She had phoned on the Friday evening because she and Carlos had had an argument, she always wanted to speak with me or her friend when they had an argument.’
She added that the pair, who had begun their relationship ‘in secret’ because their families disapproved, had a fiery relationship and ‘would fight regularly.’
But on the day of her death her daughter had resolved not to fight anymore and told her she planned to dress up and put on make-up to wait for her husband to return in the evening.
She said she was worried about Mohammed’s behaviour towards her daughter but that Simone herself had seemed ‘normal.’
She added: ‘He had been aggressive since he came home from Ghana, when it came back he couldn’t have children, unless he gave up smoking weed, cigarettes and alcohol.’
‘When I spoke to her on the Friday she was frightened, she was frightened of Carlos. I spoke to him eventually and he promised me that he would look after her.’
Mrs Lally also said her daughter was used to Carlos needing his own quiet space for a few days and that she had joked: ‘I suppose I can put up with that instead of him breaking my legs.’
That night, Mrs Lally received a distressed phone call from Mohammed.
She said: ‘I had a phone call off Carlos two minutes after midnight. He was crying on the phone, I kept asking him: “What’s the matter.” He said: “It’s Simone, she’s dead.’”
Coroner’s officer Irene Wright said: ‘Mr Jabakhanji was initially arrested but no charges were ever brought.’
She also added that the coroner and Lancashire police had been in touch with the Gambian authorities to seek more information surrounding Simone’s death, but had no reply.
She said due to the Gambian authorities failing to get in touch, there is no way of knowing whether further inquiries were carried out.