A MOTHER’S burned body was found with stab wounds days after she told her husband she was going to leave him, a court heard.
Firefighters found the bodies of Mahnaz Rafiei, aged 48, and her husband, architect Hassan Rafiei, aged 49, in the kitchen of their home in Albert Road West, Heaton, in the early hours of Monday, December 9, last year.
Mrs Rafiei’s mother, Dolleh Mohanaei, also known as Dolleh Joseph, aged 74, was also found in cardiac arrest in an upstairs bedroom, and she died at Royal Bolton Hospital a short time later.
Today coroner Jennifer Leeming recorded verdicts of unlawful killing for Mrs Rafiei and Mrs Joseph, and an open verdict for Mr Rafiei's death.
Bolton Coroners Court heard Mrs Rafiei, a student training to be a lawyer, had four stab wounds in her chest, and a hunting knife with a 17cm serrated blade was found on the floor near the bodies.
A relative of the family left the room in tears as evidence about Mrs Rafiei’s injuries was read to the court.
Gary Jarvis, a fire service station manager, said firefighters found the bodies of Mr and Mrs Rafiei on their backs next to each other on the kitchen floor facing in opposite directions.
Mr Jarvis said: “If somebody externally had caused the fire they wouldn’t have had time to close the door — it is impossible.
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"There would have been an explosion and they probably would have been caught up in it themselves.”
Petrol had been poured in a trail through the downstairs of the home and a nut connecting a gas pipe to the meter had been tampered with, leaving an open ended gas pipe going into the home.
It is thought someone caused an explosion by lighting a naked flame.
Dr Ommid Rafiei, the couple’s son, questioned witnesses during the inquest, asking whether someone else could have been involved and raised questions about where a set of missing house keys had gone.
He raised concerns about alleged “shortfalls” in the investigation because he had discovered his father had searched for information about cancer trials for his grandmother and had emailed a dentist about gum treatment in the days before his death.
He said the information showed forward planning.
Duncan Thorpe, who was in charge of the police investigation, said: “We don't find any evidence at all of any third party involvement.
"It was considered. We haven't found any evidence to support that matter.
“What we did identify was background information into all the parties.
"It became apparent from speaking to a number of friends and family members that the relationship between Hassan and Mahnaz had deteriorated.”
He said a diary going back to 2010 detailed problems with the marriage and friends told officers how Mr Rafiei was ”controlling” and would check his wife’s text messages and who she phoned.
One friend received a message from Mrs Rafiei on December 12 saying: “Hassan kept crying so I left him to it.
"I had to tell him yesterday that me and him are finished. He kept telling me to stay.”
She told another friend that her husband had said “you leave me, I will kill you and kill myself”.
Mr Rafiei was also alleged to have said that if he could not have his wife then nobody else could.
Mr Rafiei had bought two petrol cans from Morrison’s and more than 11 litres of unleaded petrol and £30 worth of diesel on December 6 — days before the fatal blaze.
But police said a red petrol can found melted in the home did not match the canisters sold by the supermarket.
Forensic pathologist Dr Philip Lumb told the court that Mrs Rafiei’s death had been caused by stab wounds.
Her husband died from a combination of inhaling smoke and heart disease.
Mrs Mohanaei, who had been staying with her daughter to get advice about the lung cancer she was suffering from, died from a combination of inhaling smoke, heart disease and lung cancer, he said.
Mrs Leeming said: “I have been greatly impressed by the courage and dignity shown by Dr Rafiei and by your family.
“It’s not easy coming to an inquest and this is one of the harder ones.
"You have been most helpful and you have approached these proceedings as a family with the utmost dignity.
“Speaking as a governor of the University of Bolton, your mum Mrs Rafiei was a much loved and an excellent student.”