Letchworth murder trial: Sami Ozone found not guilty of murdering father-in-law Nicolas Daher, but admits manslaughter

Police outside the house in Whitethorn Lane where Nicolas Daher, inset, died in January.

Police outside the house in Whitethorn Lane where Nicolas Daher, inset, died in January. - Credit: Archant

A 61-year-old man who stabbed his father-in-law to death in Letchworth has today been found not guilty of murder.

Father-of-two Sami Ozone had denied murdering 85-year-old Nicolas Daher, but admitted manslaughter – killing without intent.

A jury at Luton Crown Court took three hours to return a verdict of not guilty this afternoon, following a two-week murder trial.

Judge Michael Kay QC has adjourned the case until August 25, when Ozone will be sentenced for manslaughter.

Mr Daher died on January 4 this year while staying at the house in Whitethorn Lane that Ozone shared with his wife Samar, 60.

Ozone attacked his father-in-law in the kitchen at 2.15pm, stabbing him once in the back and twice in the chest.

Jeremy Dein QC, who defended Ozone, successfully made the case to the jury that his client must have been suffering from diminished responsibility at the time of what he called “the utmost tragedy”.

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Making his closing speech yesterday, he asked them to put aside the “extreme emotion” they must be feeling about the case and consider the state of mind in which Ozone must have been.

He said: “You know that prior to the events of January 4, he was a man of excellent character – not good character, but excellent character.

“Why would a man of excellent character kill his father-in-law with the intention of bringing that man’s life to an end or cause him really serious injury unless he was diminished in his responsibility or, alternatively, there was a loss of control?”

Mr Dein said Mr Ozone had grown up in Syria and obtained a degree in agricultural engineering before completing mandatory military service.

He described him as a hardworking man, with a passion for the restaurant he opened in the Syrian capital Damascus.

The lawyer said his client was “a doting husband, who did voluntary work and was a loving father, and no-one had a bad word to say about him”.

He asked the jury: “Why would such a man have done what the prosecution allege – kill with murderous intent?”

He said that, despite the prosecution’s assertions that it was a murder committed out of hatred and revenge, the jury – during the two weeks of the trial – had heard no evidence of hatred.

He asked: “Where is the evidence of hatred from any witness, or that he was so angry that he was intent on murdering him?”

Judge Kay had earlier told the jury not to bring emotion to their discussions, but to be objective and compassionate when considering the evidence.

Prosecutor Robert O’Sullivan QC’s case was that Ozone had resented his father-in-law – a wealthy businessman who had funded the family’s lifestyle in Syria – deeply enough to murder him.

Mr O’Sullivan told the court that after his arrest Ozone had allegedly said without prompting: “Is the Devil alive? I didn’t mean to do it. I saw the Devil in front of me.”

Ozone told a doctor that he had taken a knife to harm himself, and that his father-in-law had been smirking and speaking to him in a derogatory way when he stabbed him.

Questioned by police, he said something had “flipped” when he went into the kitchen, adding that his father-in-law had “a devil face”.

The jury decided in favour of Mr Dein’s arguments, and found Ozone not guilty of murder.

Sami Ozone, 61, of Whitethorn Lane, is set to be sentenced for manslaughter at Luton Crown Court on August 25.

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