Sami Ozone: Letchworth husband who stabbed father-in-law to death is jailed for eight years
- Credit: Archant
A 61-year-old restaurateur who stabbed his father-in-law to death in the kitchen of his Letchworth home has today been jailed for eight years.
Sami Ozone plunged a knife three times into the back and chest of 85-year-old Nicolas Daher, a wealthy Syrian businessman who was in the UK visiting family – and afterwards claimed to have “saved my children from this Devil”.
A jury at Luton Crown Court acquitted him of murder in June, citing diminished responsibility – with Ozone admitting manslaughter. Judge Michael Kay QC today sentenced him to eight years behind bars.
Ozone, of Whitethorn Lane, killed his 60-year-old wife Samar’s father on January 4 this year after enduring years of what he considered to be controlling behaviour and humiliation.
The tournament poker player attacked his father-in-law in the kitchen of the home he and Samar shared at 2.15pm, stabbing him once in the back and twice in the chest.
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Having stabbed himself as well, Ozone was rushed to Stevenage’s Lister Hospital – where, from his hospital bed, he asked a nearby police guard, unprompted: “Is the Devil alive? I didn’t mean to do it. I saw the Devil in front of me.”
He 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.
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Questioned by police, he said something had “flipped” when he went into the kitchen, adding that his father-in-law had “a devil face”.
He said: “He was evil. He was mad. He laughed at every step in our life.”
During the two-week trial in June, the court heard that Mr Daher arrived at the home Ozone and his wife shared in Letchworth’s Whitethorn Lane on December 14 last year.
Ozone went to visit a daughter in Dubai over Christmas, leaving on December 20, and returned to Whitethorn Lane on January 3.
The following day he went into the kitchen, where Mr Daher was. Samar, in the living room, suddenly heard shouting and found her husband stabbing himself in the stomach – Mr Daher having already been stabbed three times.
Mr Daher was pronounced dead at the scene, while Ozone – who also had cuts to his wrists – was taken to hospital.
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”.
Mr Dein said 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?”
Mr Daher had owned and financed Ozone’s restaurant in Damascus.
Prosecutor Robert O’Sullivan QC’s case was that Ozone had resented his father-in-law deeply enough to murder him.
He said: “Mr Daher would criticise his son-in-law’s ability to run the business. In 2006 Mr Daher proposed letting out the restaurant to investors. Mr Ozone took it as a personal criticism.
“He had a long-standing grievance against his father-in-law. Mr Ozone tried to run a restaurant in St Albans using several hundreds of thousands provided by the sale of the Damascus restaurant – the business failed and the money was lost.
“Samar was considering divorcing Mr Ozone, who told the police he thought the idea of the divorce came from pressure brought about from his father-in-law.
“There was a lingering resentment and anger against him. Mr Ozone saw it as interference in family life.”
The jury decided in favour of Mr Dein’s arguments, and found Ozone not guilty of murder.