‘I’m Not Going Back’: Illegal Migrant Stabbed Woman 30 Times Days Before Planned Deportation

Greater Manchester Police

A failed asylum seeker has been jailed after committing a “frenzied and calculated” knife attack on a woman in a bid to prevent her deportation from Britain.

Awa Zongo, 29, poured a pan of boiling hot water over her housemate and stabbed her 30 times in an “unprovoked” assault in December last year, just two days before her deportation from Britain was due.

Manchester Crown Court heard that the defendant kept shouting “I’m not going back” as she launched the almost deadly attack on Asam Panahandeh at their home in Wigan, with doctors describing as “miraculous” the fact that the victim survived.

Zongo, who arrived in Britain from Burkina Faso in January 2019, sought entry to the nation as a visitor but was refused and placed in an immigration detention centre, according to the Manchester Evening News.

It reports that she was due to be removed from the country two days later but was taken off her deportation flight after becoming “uncooperative and unmanageable” and allowed to seek asylum and given accommodation at British taxpayers’ expense.

Prosecutor Joe Boyd said Zongo began to experience mental health problems in December after she learned that her asylum claim had been rejected and that, having exhausted her appeal options, she would be deported on the 16th of the month.

Emergency services were called to the defendant’s address, where they found Panahandeh in critical condition with a knife lodged deep in her neck, with just the handle sticking out.

The 40-year-old victim required surgery to remove the blade and had suffered 30 stab wounds to her neck, chest, stomach, and thighs, and also had burns covering her face, shoulder arm and back.

After plunging the knife into her housemate’s neck — an attack which only narrowly missed severing a lethal artery — Zongo left her for dead.

When arrested by police on suspicion of attempted murder, she claimed she had not intended to kill Panahandeh and had no memory of the morning’s events.

Representing Zongo, Steven Swift claimed his client’s life had been “blighted by physical and sexual abuse” in Africa, where she had moved between a number of different countries with cultures “where violence and sexual exploitation became the norm for her”.

“These circumstances do appear to have impacted upon her,” he told the court, before claiming that a psychiatrist had reported that Zongo appeared to be suffering symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) triggered by the rejection of her asylum application.

But Judge Patrick Field QC rejected the defence’s claim that PTSD had played a major role in the “merciless attack”, telling Zongo it appeared “that your sole purpose was to prevent your lawful removal from this country”.

“No other explanation has been offered… If, therefore, this was your motivation it was particularly calculated, cynical and, frankly, wicked,” the judge said.

“You acted in a deliberate and calculated manner,” he told Zongo, adding that: “Whatever your motivation, what happened on December 14 demonstrates that you are a particularly dangerous offender.”

Despite this strong rhetoric, however, he sentenced the migrant to a minimum term of just seven years.

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