A man who murdered his wife and two children at their home in Dublin was wearing a dress and disguising himself as a woman the night they were killed.
His daughter, Asfira Syed, 11, also made a video message that evening in which he said: “Dad loves us so much” and denied assaulting her mother, a judicial inquiry has learned.
The bodies of Asfira, her brother Faizan (6) and their mother Seema Banu (37) were found in their home in Llewellyn Court, Rathfarnham in October 2020.
Sameer Syed had been charged with the murder of his family but died a week before he was due to go on trial in June.
Dublin Coroner’s Court today heard of the important garda inquiry into the triple murder.
The inquest heard earlier how Ms. Banu was abused by her husband for years and how he was denied access to the house because of an assault in May last year.
Evidence was provided that armed guards broke into the home on October 28, 2020 and noticed significant water damage to the kitchen ceiling from an upstairs faucet that was still running.
Garda Detective Brian O’Neill said he went upstairs and saw Asfira and Faizan lying face down next to each other on a bed.
Both had a scarf around their neck that was tied with a knot. Gda O’Neill said he knew both children had died.
Seema Banu was in another bedroom, lying face up on a bed with a scarf tied around her neck and knotted in the front.
The detective said he called out, but there was no response, and he then touched her lower left leg, which was “freezing cold”.
At that time, he said that he was sure that Mrs. Banu had died.
Garda management was alerted and the crime scene was declared at 1:20 pm.
State deputy pathologist Dr Heidi Okkers said the cause of death for all three was asphyxiation due to ligature strangulation.
She also said that the ligature may have been applied to Ms Banu after her death and that self-strangulation was unlikely in this case.
Detective Inspector Vivian Rock, who oversaw the murder investigation, said the investigative team had collected a large amount of forensic and digital evidence.
He told the jury that CCTV footage showed a man boarding a Dublin bus in Rathmines shortly after 8pm on October 22, six days before the bodies were found.
The person wore a dress, coat, hat and dark glasses while carrying a bag and took the number 14 bus towards Rathfarnham.
Det Insp Rock said it was determined that this was Sameer Syed dressed as a woman, and that the clothes were not cultural attire or otherwise.
The garments and items originated elsewhere and were recovered during searches of various premises, including at Llewellyn Court.
In garda interviews, Syed “capitulated” and admitted that it was him in disguise and that he was present at the family home on the night of the deaths.
The inquest heard that before he arrived at the house, he put on men’s clothes again.
Gardaí also recovered a video recorded by Ms Banu and Asfira shortly after 10 pm that evening.
During the video, she claimed that the injuries May suffered in an attack by her husband May had self-inflicted by strangling herself.
Ms Banu also submitted a prepared document, described as a “definitive statement”, in which she denied that her husband assaulted her.
Asfira also tells the camera that her father didn’t hit them and adds “Daddy loves us a lot. He loves us so much”.
Det Insp Rock said investigations have shown that this statement was taken at least a week earlier and was written by Asfira.
Digital investigations revealed that it was sent from Ms. Banu’s device to Syed’s phone on October 16.
It was also sent between the devices at 10:22 pm on the night they are believed to have been killed.
The statement shown in the video was found “neatly placed” on the bedside table next to Ms Banu’s body.
After being charged with the earlier assault, Syed was barred from visiting the family home and was only allowed supervised access to his children.
However, the Garda investigation found that he visited the house on 29 days, between August 20 and the day of the death, specifically on weekends. Despite this, neighbors did not report seeing him.
Syed was later arrested for the murders and in an interview admitted to killing his wife, but named “another party” to the murder of their children.
However, Det Insp Rock said that Gardaí could prove this was not the case and that the DPP charged him with all three murders.
Gardaí had found his fingerprint on the plastic bag found under Asfira’s head.
Syed was due to stand trial for murder last June, but he was found dead while in custody.
The Senior Investigating Officer said it was a lengthy investigation, following hundreds of lines of inquiry and liaising with foreign police forces.
The jury ruled that all three victims had been killed unlawfully and expressed its condolences to the family.
The coroner, Dr Clare Keane, said they had no chance of reaching their potential and their deaths were “unimaginable”.
She also acknowledged the work of the gardaí, Tusla and the Sonas refuge and said it had been a very, very difficult thing.