When she gave evidence at Leicester crown court, 46-year-old Ansreen Bukhari described how her daughter’s fame on TikTok had completely transformed her life.
“When I got married I was like a housewife, but with this TikTok thing I was going out more. It was like two different lives,” she said. “It was more excitement. We were out and meeting people and stuff.”
Born in Pakistan, she moved to the UK as a baby and had ambitions of becoming a flight attendant, but her parents prevented her from going to college.
Her daughter, Mahek, who has 128,000 followers on TikTok, where she publishes beauty and lifestyle content, told the court how she would take her mother along to events and parties she was invited to, saying: “She’s like a sister to me, we’re best friends, and I know I could only trust her for anything. That’s the reason I would take her.”
In one video on Mahek’s TikTok channel, the pair can be seen doing a synchronised dance routine under the caption: “Having an elite relationship with your mum >>>”.
It was off the back of this new world of parties and popularity that Ansreen and her daughter ended up embroiled in a web of lies, and ultimately part of a plot to murder two young men who were killed in a fireball when their car was driven off the road.
One of the victims was Saqib Hussain, 21, who met Ansreen online about three years before his death – he was then 18, but he lied and told her he was 27.
The pair began a sexual relationship, meeting up in hotels in Birmingham and London, and he would frequently send gifts to the house where she lived with her husband, her son and Mahek.
When the case first went to trial in 2022, before it was abandoned due to a “jury irregularity”, Ansreen claimed her relationship with Hussain was a one-off mistake.
However, before the retrial, police were able to access Hussain’s iCloud account and discovered photos and videos proving the pair had met multiple times over several years. Ansreen said she had lied previously to try to protect her marriage.
She claimed that she had tried to end the relationship multiple times, but that Hussain would not accept her decision, and threatened to expose their affair to her husband and son with intimate photos and videos.
Mahek said she had been upset and angry with her mother when she found out about the affair. She had a strong personal dislike of Hussain, claiming that at one point he had posted images online of her face superimposed on a naked body.
“He was a manipulative person and he was just pure nasty,” she told the court, adding that he was “basically narcissistic” and “a stalker”.
The court was read an extract of dozens of messages Hussain sent to Ansreen before his death, in which he repeatedly threatened to come to her house, and said things such as “you’re pissing me off more and more by ignoring me”, “I will do something you’re gonna regret” and “I’m a crazy bastard”.
Messages show Hussain was demanding a sum of £3,000 he claimed he had spent on Ansreen over the course of their relationship. Mahek contacted her longtime friend Rekan Karwan, she claimed, to sort out the money.
The prosecution alleged the group actually concocted a plot to kill or seriously injure Hussain, luring him to a Tesco car park in Leicester late at night where Karwan and his friends waited wearing balaclavas and carrying at least one weapon: a wheel brace.
The plan went wrong when Hussain, driven by his friend Mohammed Hashim Ijazuddin, 21, suspected something was up and drove off, closely pursued by two cars containing Mahek, Ansreen, Karwan and five others drafted in to help.
Driving out of Leicester, the cars reached speeds of up to 100mph before Hussain’s car was shunted off the road, hitting a tree and bursting into flames.
Ansreen and Mahek both stuck to the story that the car had simply lost control, and that they had been pursuing Hussain in hope that he would agree to sit down and talk to them.
But it was clear that the group had worked together after the crash to hide their involvement. When police came to the Bukhari family home to make arrests, Mahek told them she and her mother had driven to Nottingham, not Leicester.
She lied to police about her phone password so they were unable to access her messages, but she sent a message to her mother in which she said Karwan had instructed them to tell police they were the only two people in the car at the time.
It was these lies that led to the pair becoming unstuck and ultimately convicted of murder alongside their accomplices.