06 Jul 2022

Investigations underway into death of suspect murderer in Laois prison

REVEALED: Number of phones, hooch, drugs and weapons seized at Midlands prisons

A garda and prison investigation will take place into the death of Sameer Syed, who was due to stand trial today for the triple murder of his wife and two children at their south Dublin home but was found dead in his jail cell last week, the Central Criminal Court has heard.

Brendan Grehan SC, for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), also told the court that there will be a "full inquest" into the deaths of Syed's wife Seema Banu, her daughter Asfira Riza and her son Faizan Syed.

Mr Grehan asked Mr Justice Paul McDermott, the judge who takes charge of the Central Criminal Court trial list, to close the court file on Syed, formally ending the criminal proceedings against him. 

Syed (38) died in his cell in the Midlands Prison in Co Laois last Thursday afternoon.

The 38-year-old, of Grosvenor Lodge, Rathmines, Dublin 6 was charged with murdering his wife Ms Banu (37), his daughter Asfira Riza (11) and son Faizan Syed (6) at Llewellyn Court, Rathfarnham, Dublin 16 on October 28 2020. His trial was expected to last five weeks. 

Ms Banu, who was from India, lived in a house in Llewellyn Court with her two children. Their bodies were found after residents in the estate became concerned when the family hadn't been seen in several days and alerted the gardaí.

Mr Grehan, for the State, today called Detective Sergeant Ger White to give evidence to the court as to why Syed's trial will not proceed.

Det Sgt White agreed with Mr Grehan that although no family belonging to Ms Banu were present in court today, they were due to travel at a later stage.

The witness also agreed with counsel that the matter was listed for trial today and it involved the murder of Ms Banu, her daughter Asfira and son Faizan. 

Det Sgt White said that Syed was being detained in the Midlands Prison and he became aware on Thursday June 9 that the accused was found in his cell. 

He further agreed that Syed was pronounced dead and that an inquest will be carried out. "A garda and prison investigation will take place," he added.

Det Sgt White said that the accused was due to stand trial for the three murders.

Mr Grehan asked Mr Justice McDermott to receive the indictment, mark the accused as deceased and close the file in those circumstances. 

Mr Justice McDermott said this was a "very tragic case" involving the death of a mother and her two children, who were aged 11 and six. He said that he wanted to express his sympathy to the families involved and called it "a very sad case". The judge added that "tragically" Syed is now also deceased.

He said: "I want to express my appreciation for the amount of work and dedication by An Garda Siochana in what was an extremely difficult case and the resources they have devoted to it. I also want to express the court's appreciation for the work done on the case and to the lawyers involved".

Following this, Mr Grehan told the court that whilst this concluded the criminal prosecution there would be a full inquest in respect of the deceased.  

Speaking outside the Criminal Courts of Justice building following the brief hearing, Superintendent Gordan Woulfe said: "The thoughts of the investigation team based in Dundrum Garda Station are today very much with the victims Ms Seema Banu and with her two children Asfira and Faizan. They were always at the fore of our thoughts as we pursued this investigation. We are also very mindful of her family in India and our thoughts are with them as well. There will be a coroner's inquest in due course and this precludes me from making any further comments".

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