A teenager who drew up an agreement with a “demon” to sacrifice women in exchange for a lottery win has been convicted of the murders of sisters Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman.
Danyal Hussein created a handwritten plan, signed in his own blood, in which he pledged to murder six women every six months; in return requesting financial reward.
In the early hours of Saturday, 6 June 2020, he made good on his pact, killing complete strangers Bibaa and Nicole in a pre-meditated attack that officers believe saw him observe them for some time before stabbing both to death in Fryent Country Park, Wembley.
Hussein, 19 (10.05.02) of Guy Barnet Grove, Eltham was found guilty by a unanimous jury following a four-week trial at the Old Bailey for the murders of 46-year-old Bibaa and 27-year old Nicole, and possession of an offensive weapon. He will be sentenced at the same court on September 22.
Senior investigating officer in the case, Detective Chief Inspector Simon Harding, from the Specialist Crime Command said: “This is one of the most shocking and chilling cases I have ever dealt with, and I know the investigation will stay with all of those involved for many years to come. Hussein went out that night with the intention of killing in order to satisfy his bizarre fantasies under the deluded belief he would be rewarded with financial prosperity. His wicked acts have cut short the lives of two completely innocent women - who, even more devastatingly, were exceptionally close sisters simply out celebrating a birthday – and left family, friends and colleagues bereft, still struggling to come to terms with such a random and senseless attack.
“Bibaa and Nicole were very popular, had lots of friends and lived life to the full. Their bond and shared pleasure in being in each other’s company was clear to see from the heart-breaking images and footage which captured them together that night. It is still beyond my comprehension what impact their murders will have had on their family and friends and my thoughts are first and foremost today with them. Throughout our investigation and the subsequent trial they have shown the utmost dignity in the most unimaginable of circumstances. No normal person will be able to comprehend Hussein’s motivation but I do hope that his conviction can bring the families at least some sense of justice.
“Conversely, Hussein has presented as an arrogant and egotistical character who from the outset has denied any culpability, compounding his actions by forcing the family to endure the additional trauma of a trial. He was incredibly disrespectful to witnesses and the family whilst he acted like a petulant child in the dock. Despite his planning prior to the incident, ironically it was in part his mistakes that ultimately led to his downfall, by leaving the weapon and a bloodied glove at the scene to be found and linked directly to him. Perhaps he believed the oath he signed would somehow protect him from retribution. Even though he was seen on CCTV going into his house, walking down a street and using his bank card, he maintained that it simply was not him. Even though his DNA was matched to the blood and DNA all over the crime scene, he again denied it was his DNA. I strongly believe that had he not been injured so badly that day and then apprehended he would have gone on to carry out further murders to fulfil his twisted pact, and so I am grateful the jury were able to see through his preposterous claim that he wasn’t responsible despite all the overwhelming evidence against him.
“This case presented a number of challenges including a vast and complex crime scene and lack of witnesses. And despite Hussein leaving a large amount of his blood at the scene, with no match on the DNA database we found ourselves in a frustrating position. Determined to find the person responsible as a matter of urgency, hundreds of officers were deployed to the investigation, from forensic officers gathering vital evidence, search and dive teams carrying out fingertip searches to local officers on reassurance patrols. The additional familial work carried out on the DNA sample led us to Hussein. My officers then carried out meticulous CCTV enquiries which provided a clear picture of his movements both that night and in the days leading up to the incident, as well as a hospital visit the following day. It is this work which I believe created a watertight case against Hussein. I would also like to acknowledge the overwhelming support of the public, who provided information, statements and footage which proved crucial to our investigation.”
On the evening of Friday 5 June, Bibaa had arranged a small gathering to celebrate her 46thbirthday in Fryent Country Park in Wembley; the location within the park she chose being a well-known spot for panoramic views across London.
CCTV footage captured Bibaa and her 27-year-old sister Nicole at around 19.30hrs in the Kingsbury Co-Op buying some food and drinks for the party. They appeared to be in good spirits, with Nicole seen having a chat with a man next to her at the checkout. From here they made their way to the park, CCTV again showing them entering via the Slough Lane entrance just before 19.40hrs. Once inside they headed to the top of the hill and “set up camp”. The weather was good and, over the course of the evening, friends arrived for the gathering where they ate, drank, played cards and listened to music.
As darkness fell, guests started to leave, and by midnight the sisters were alone. Clearly keen to continue the celebrations the pair played music and danced with fairy lights. At 01.04hrs Nicole sent a text message to her boyfriend saying that she was “dancing in a field”. This was the last time he would hear from her. The pair had set up Bibaa’s phone to take a series of images using a clicker device, recording 150 images in sequence of them dancing and having fun. In the final image, captured at 01.13hrs, now on Saturday, 6 June, Bibaa and Nicole could be seen looking to their left as if distracted by something. We believe their attention had been drawn to Hussein’s arrival.
Hussein’s night had started at around 19.45hrs when he was seen leaving a family address in Old Kenton Lane, Kingsbury – which is minutes from Fryent Country Park. He was wearing blue medical gloves and a mask (given the ongoing pandemic this was probably not an unusual sight) and carrying a rucksack. He walked to a nearby bus stop where he took the Number 204 bus to Edgware Road, entering Morrisons’ supermarket where he bought some alcohol and collected an Amazon delivery of a full-face balaclava and two folding shovels contained within a pouch. All of the items were placed in his rucksack, and he made his way to Fryent Country Park arriving via the Larkspur Close entrance at around 20.40hrs.
The birthday party would have been a five-minute walk from here and clearly visible given the location of the group.
There is no CCTV coverage within the park, but Hussein remained inside for four hours. Whilst unclear what he was doing all that time, it is likely he saw Bibaa and Nicole and spent some time observing them before approaching them.
The exact circumstances of the murders remain unclear, but it is believed that Bibaa was killed first – taken by surprise by Hussein and quickly overpowered. She was stabbed eight times. The attack on Nicole was frenzied and relentless, resulting in her suffering a total of 28 stab wounds. In addition, she received a number of cuts to her arms, hands and legs, suggesting she put up a significant and incredibly brave fight.
Following the murders it is believed Hussein dragged both bodies up to 75m to a wooded area seemingly in an effort to hide them from public view. He then attempted to clean up the scene, placing a number of items from the party in rubbish bags or concealing them in the wooded area and throwing the victims’ mobile phones into a pond within the park.
CCTV footage captured Hussein finally leaving the park at 04.07hrs via the same entrance / exit. Moments later he was seen returning home, minus his trousers, with his jacket tied around his waist and right hand tucked into the makeshift waistband. Neither his jacket nor the missing trousers were ever found by police.
Bibaa and Nicole were reported missing on the evening of Saturday, 6 June by friends and family when they failed to return home and were uncontactable. At around lunchtime on Sunday, 7 June some of those closest to the sisters went to the park to carry out their own search. There they found glasses belonging to both Bibaa and Nicole, as well as a knife. Devastatingly, whilst on the phone to police seeking advice about what they had found, the bodies of the sisters were discovered.
Police and paramedics were swiftly on scene and a large area of the park was cordoned off. A murder investigation was launched under DCI Harding. Due to its size and make up, the scene posed a significant challenge, and crime scene examiners spent three weeks conducting fingertip searches of the area, leading to the discovery of a number of relevant items. Officers were directed to a kitchen knife found by those friends who had been searching the park. Due to heavy rainfall, the upper side of the knife was clean, however the underside was heavily blood stained. That blood would later be found to belong to Hussein. A spot of Nicole’s DNA was also present.
Among the foliage of the hedgerow close to where the bodies were discovered, officers found bottles from the party which Hussein had discarded. They were stained with blood – subsequently identified as his. His blood was also found on leaves and branches close to where the bodies were discovered. Between this site and the pond, two latex gloves were found one inside the other. One was heavily stained with Hussein’s then unidentified blood and was damaged in the areas where his hand was later seen to have been cut. Police divers carried out a search of the pond and recovered the victims’ mobile phones.
On Saturday, 6 June, a member of public doing a clear up of the park had found the rubbish bags left by Hussein and placed them next to a bin. They were later removed by the local council to a nearby refuse site. When subsequently recovered by officers, these bags were found to contain two blankets and cushions – which had been taken to the scene by Bibaa and Nicole - stained with blood. This was later identified as Hussein’s. Officers searched through 120 tonnes of rubbish.
Analysis of Bibaa’s mobile phone indicated that Hussein had tried repeatedly to access the handset, as the screen was turned on and off more than 130 times between 01:26 and 03:48 hours. It is believed by officers that Hussein was concerned his image had been captured by the camera and he was attempting to unlock the phone so he could delete any evidence of his presence. In addition, the step counter on the handset revealed that whilst in possession of the handset Hussein had walked the equivalent of 2km. At 03.48hrs the handset display was turned off for the last time, which is likely when he threw the phones into the pond and left the park.
Given the relative rarity of a stranger murder, let alone involving two victims, officers spent much of the initial investigation ruling out those known to the women. Once it was established that an unknown person was responsible, detectives set about working against the clock to identity the perpetrator.
Detectives pored through hours of CCTV, doorbell and dash-cam footage, provided in many cases by those living and working in the area, and took hundreds of statements in the initial days and weeks following the murders. Aware that the glove discovered at the scene meant the killer had clearly injured their hand, officers made a public plea to anyone who may have noticed a relative with a significant hand injury to come forward.
While the blood samples were a significant find for officers - providing a full DNA profile - without a match on the database their efforts were frustrated. Determined to make every use of the opportunities the profile offered, DCI Harding and his team worked with the National Crime Agency to undertake familial work in an attempt to identify relatives of the suspect. They struck gold when an individual was identified as part of this process and through further enquiries were led directly to Danyal Hussein.
In the early hours of Wednesday, 1 July, Hussein was arrested at his Eltham address. The first thing officers noticed when face-to-face with the then 18-year-old were the cuts to his hand; consistent with those which would have been sustained by the suspect. He was taken into police custody and charged the following day after his DNA was confirmed as that found at the scene.
Officers were now able to direct their CCTV enquiries with greater precision and in addition to the footage revealing Hussein’s movements on the night of the murder, were able to build up a better picture and stronger case against him when they discovered his activity in the days leading up to and following the incident.
Two days before the murders, on Wednesday, 3 June, Hussein had travelled to Asda in Colindale where CCTV showed him buying a knife block containing five knives. Producing a passport to purchase the knives, he chose to pay most of the amount by card and the remainder in cash. Unable to fit the knife block into the blue rucksack he had brought along with him, he placed it in a carrier bag. Hours later he returned to the supermarket, this time buying some Unibond power tape – described as “extra strong and resilient”. While officers found no evidence that the tape was used during the murders, it is believed his purpose for purchasing it was to form part of his murderous plans.
Enquiries revealed that at around 16.20hrs on Saturday, 6 June - around 12 hours after he had left the crime scene - Hussein attended Northwick Park Hospital seeking treatment to his injured hand, believed to have been sustained when the knife had likely slipped during the attack on Nicole. Telling staff he had received the injuries during a robbery the previous night, he insisted he did not want to report the matter to police and refused to provide further details. He was referred for surgery at the Royal Free the following day where his wounds were stitched, and he attended a follow up appointment on 15 June.
During a search of Hussein’s bedroom officers discovered what seemed to account for a motive - a handwritten note purporting to be a contract with a demon, where Hussein pledged to “perform a minimum of six sacrifices every six months” and to “sacrifice only women”. Under the headline “For Me” were the words: “Win the Mega Millions Super Jackpot”. The document was signed in Hussein’s blood and on top were three lottery tickets, which he had purchased following the murders.
Also recovered during the house search was the balaclava – discovered at the bottom of Hussein’s wardrobe and with his DNA present - and shovel pouch which Hussein had picked up from Morrisons on the night of the murder, as well as his rucksack. One of two shovels was missing from the pouch and has never been recovered. Whilst there was no specific proof that these items were used by Hussein on the night of 5 June, he didn’t return home after picking up the items and before heading into the park. As such officers believe they were at least in his possession (ie. in the rucksack) when he committed the murders.
On 4 June, Hussein set up a Megamillions lottery account online, making a number of purchases after the murders between 7 June and 16 June. Likely fearing he could be linked to the incident, on 16 June he reported his bank card as stolen, claiming that a number of purchases made from 3 June onwards were nothing to do with him. As a result, he was later recompensed the money he had spent on items including the knife block, shovels, Unibond Tape and balaclava, as well as three separate online Lottery purchases. But he was caught in a lie, when he was seen on supermarket CCTV making purchases with the card on 10 June.
When Hussein was arrested on 1 July his response to police was: “Yeah – that’s near my grandma’s address.” When asked by the custody sergeant how he had suffered the injuries to his hand, he said he had been robbed. He later repeated this claim to a nurse who examined him, additionally stating that he suffered from autism and memory loss. Advising officers that he was willing and ready to be interviewed, he then proceeded to give no comment in response to all questions put to him. Since that day – and despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary – he has continued to deny any involvement in the murders of Bibaa and Nicole through his trial counsel. He refused to give evidence during his trial or produce any witnesses or evidence to counter the prosecution.