Rob Kidd is a NZME. News Service court reporter based in Auckland.

Bodies-under-the-bridge murders: Kamal Reddy found guilty

A man who killed his ex-partner and her three-year-old daughter and buried their bodies under a bridge has been found guilty of their murders.

After four-and-a-half hours of deliberation, a jury at Auckland High Court found Kamal Reddy guilty of murdering Pakeeza Yusuf and her daughter, Juwairiyah "Jojo" Kalim.

Reddy, 43, was unflinching as the verdicts were read out. He will be sentenced next month.

Juwairiyah's father, Mohammed Faizal, said he had been "waiting for this day for a long time". "I am glad they found him guilty, he should be put away for a long time."

It had been a long and stressful wait to find out how and why his daughter was killed, he said. "I can put this behind me finally, now I know what happened. A long time I have been waiting for this day. What comes next I don't know, I'll just have to wait and see - it's pretty daunting."

Justice Raynor Asher told the jurors: "This has been an ordeal for you. Bear that in mind and look after yourselves over the next few days."

Juwairiyah and her mother were found buried under the Takapuna overbridge in Auckland's North Shore in October 2014 but the Crown said they were killed at the end of 2006 or early 2007.

Reddy claimed the confession was a sham and it was only made under intense pressure from police who targeted him in an extensive investigation. He told the court the real killer was a part-Indian man called James, who was in a relationship with Ms Yusuf at the time.

The jury rejected that explanation, preferring the one Reddy himself unwittingly made to undercover police during a secretly-recorded interview in a Wellington apartment. He said he had strangled Ms Yusuf with the cord of an electrical iron before smothering Jojo with a pillow.

"He wrapped [the cord] around her neck once and tightened it until she stopped breathing," Crown prosecutor Natalie Walker said. "There was likely to be minimal struggle, no noise and no blood."

Pakeeza Yusuf and her 3-year-old daughter Juwairiyah "Jojo" Kalim. Photo / Supplied
Pakeeza Yusuf and her 3-year-old daughter Juwairiyah "Jojo" Kalim. Photo / Supplied

The Crown said Reddy killed the woman out of anger that she had made a scene in front of his family, jealousy that she may have been seeing someone else and resentment that he had paid a deposit for the Howick flat and was being shunned by Ms Yusuf.

He killed Jojo because she would have inevitably outed him as the killer, Ms Walker said.

After the murders, Reddy frantically drove around Bombay Hills south of Auckland, looking for a suitable area to dispose of them. When the search proved fruitless, he called his uncle Bal Naidu in the early hours of the morning and drove to his Papatoetoe address.

Mr Naidu told the court that Reddy admitted killing his girlfriend and her daughter and said they were under a blanket in the boot of his Subaru.

The pair drove to the North Shore spot where the bodies were found and Mr Naidu pointed out a couple of locations by the bridge that would be suitable. Twenty four hours later Reddy went back and dug for hours before dumping the victims side by side.

Juwairiyah "Jojo" Kalim. Photo / Supplied
Juwairiyah "Jojo" Kalim. Photo / Supplied

For more than seven years, the mother and daughter lay covered in stone and mud. Their disappearance was only noted by police when Ms Yusuf's mother made a missing person's report in 2013.

Reddy came under the microscope after they discovered he had appeared in Manukau District Court in 2007 charged with threatening to kill Ms Yusuf and assaulting her ex-husband with a machete.

Bank data showed someone had been taking large cash sums from the victim's account since her disappearance too but nothing conclusively pointed to the defendant.

It was only after undercover police officers gained Reddy's trust over the course of a six-month operation that they got the evidence they needed.

Outside court Detective Sergeant Stephen Nightingale made special mention of the work done by Crown prosecutors Natalie Walker and Luke Clancy.

He also praised the investigation team, several of whom were in court for the verdicts.
"It's been a long road and I'm really proud of them," he said.

Mr Nightingale also spoke on behalf of the victims' family. "Pakeeza was the eldest daughter in a family of five children. She was beautiful, caring and a wonderful mother to Juwairiyah," he said.

"We're extremely pleased this offender will now be held accountable for his terrible actions. We would never wish for anyone to go through what we have and are thankful our questions have finally been answered and can now begin to move forward with our lives."

Ms Yusuf's uncle Firoz Mohammed told the Herald: "Every day we have sat here for the three week trial and listened to everything they have said and today when they announced the verdict, I cried.

"The man who has done this is guilty and it gives us closure."

He said Ms Yusuf's mother and father had been in the court to hear the verdicts. "We all just don't really know what to say. This afternoon we will all get together and do a prayer for Pakeeza and Jojo to rest in peace because we know that justice has been done."

- NZ Herald

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