A jealous and abusive husband who believed “only he” could have his wife strangled her to death after she met someone else, an inquest heard.
Midwife Simbiso Moula, 39, suffered years of physical and mental abuse at Garikayi’s hands and called police just over a year before her death when he threatened her with a hammer.
A coroner found Simbiso, described as a “popular and valued member of the team” by her colleagues at Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospital, was killed by the 51-year-old mental health nurse before he took his own life in January 2019.
Walthamstow Coroner’s Court heard their bodies were discovered by one of their own children at their home in Rainham, Essex.
The couple’s daughter Nyasha Moula gave a harrowing insight into her dad’s controlling behaviour and physical abuse towards her mother in Zimbabwe and when they came to the UK.
Nyasha said in a statement: “One night he tried to hit her and she told him: ‘We are in England, it is a crime to hit your wife, if you ever hit me again I will call the police and they will arrest you and deport you.’
“According to her he never hit her again but he was still controlling.”
Nyasha said when she was nine her dad discovered Simbiso had been speaking to a man on Facebook, and said he sent the man nude photos of Simbiso.
She said: “My mother’s circle of friends decreased, we weren’t allowed to go out. He used to hit us children as his discipline method.
“My mother reckoned he was jealous she had so many people who cared for her and friends. Apart from her, he did not have a single friend. All through those years he would constantly berate her.”
The inquest heard police were called to the family home by Simbiso in 2017 after Garikayi had reached under the bed, where he kept a hammer.
Simbiso believed he was going to hit her with it, however Garikayi pleaded with her to think of his job, and Simbiso told officers the call-out had “been a mistake” and she had “over-reacted”.
Simbiso kicked Garikayi out of the house in June 2018 but he had to move back in for “financial reasons”, the inquest heard.
A friend of Simbiso said she felt Simbiso started to “live life for herself” and they went out shopping together – the first time in their friendship – as she had not been allowed to previously.
She said: “I saw a big change in her. Prior to this she would be scared to arrive home late from work or to go out.”
However she told the inquest that Garikayi would ‘stalk’ Simbiso by watching her from the hospital car park and contact her if she arrived late for work.
She also said Simbiso had taken a trip to Zimbabwe in the months before her death and believed she may have been romantically involved with a family friend.
In September 2018, Simbiso told Nyasha she had met someone, but Nyasha said: “I was happy for her but my brother and I were very worried for her.
“Garikayi was a very jealous person who believed only he could have my mum – plus he was still living in the house.
“He still thought they had a chance and he was becoming very depressed.”
DS Paul Slaymaker, an officer who attended the Moula’s house in 2017, said police identify a risk of domestic violence by asking suspected victims a number of questions.
However Simbiso answered ‘no’ to all 27 questions asked, with 14 questions needed to be answered ‘yes’ to trigger police action.
DS Slaymaker said: “Generally a standard risk might trigger advice to a victim about safety… or how to get help going forward.”
An investigation by the Met Police found the likely motive for the murder was that Simbiso was seeing another man and was going to divorce Garikayi.
Brian Boxall, independent chair of the Havering Adult Safeguarding Board, gave evidence to the inquest about a Domestic Homicide Review conducted to examine whether any lessons can be learned.
He said: “It was a difficult review because when it first came in when you looked at the agency involvement there was very little if any involvement.”
Mr Boxall said police officers attending in November 2017 could have asked the Moulas about their occupations, although there was “no guarantee” they would have told them.
He said: “Had the occupation been known, that a midwife and mental health nurse were involved, that may have potentially triggered questions by the employers that might have opened the door for intervention.”
He said another of the lessons learned was that GPs or health visitors could ask questions around domestic violence during appointments relating to pregnancy, gynaecological issues or contraception.
Mr Boxall added that controlling behaviour was a “secret crime” and although the information was out there, more people need to report it.
Senior coroner Nadia Persaud said Garikayi killed Simbiso before taking his own life, and gave a cause of death for Simbiso as compression of the neck and Garikayi as suspension.
She said: “There was a long history of domestic violence from Mr Moula towards Mrs Moula. It appears only on one occasion did this come to the attention of the statutory agencies.
“This was on one occasion in November 2017 where the police attended. They appear to have taken appropriate action in light of the information that was available to them at that time.
“There is no evidence before me that there was any opportunity for the statutory agencies to have prevented Mrs Moula’s death.”