TODAY marks 10 years since the cold-hearted parents of Shafilea Ahmed were convicted of her murder.

On August 3, 2012, Iftikhar and Farzana Ahmed were found unanimously guilty by a jury at Chester Crown Court of killing their daughter.

Shafilea was murdered in the lounge of her family home on Liverpool Road in Great Sankey on September 11, 2003, because she was determined to lead a Western lifestyle.

Her body was then driven to the Lake District and dumped in a gorge next to the River Kent in Sedgwick.

Both Iftikhar and Farzana, aged 52 and 49, always denied killing the former Great Sankey High School pupil, claiming she ran away from home on the night she was murdered – however, they did not report her missing.

But after almost nine years of lies, deception and deceit, they were convicted of her murder after an 11-week trial and were later each jailed for a minimum of 25 years.

A teacher at Great Sankey High School notified police that Shafilea had disappeared.

The former Priestley College student’s decomposed remains were found five months later in February 2004, washed up in the River Kent in Cumbria after severe flooding.

While police had always suspected that Iftikhar and Farzana had killed their daughter, no evidence was found against them until Shafilea’s sister was involved in an armed robbery at their home six years later.

The sister gave evidence to say she witnessed her parents in the act of murder while her siblings were present.

She also talked of how her parents had regularly beaten and abused Shafilea for talking to boys.

Iftikhar and Farzana Ahmed were found unanimously guilty of murder by a jury at Chester Crown Court

Iftikhar and Farzana Ahmed were found unanimously guilty of murder by a jury at Chester Crown Court

The court heard how Shafilea was the victim of a brutal ‘honour killing’ after her parents attempted to force her to marry her cousin in Pakistan, which she refused to do.

The Ahmeds suffocated Shafilea to death by forcing a plastic bag down her throat.

Following the trial, Shafilea’s school friend, Melissa Powner, said: “We have waited for this day for many years. We have watched as her killers roamed free.

“Yet today we heard those important words, words that have finally brought our friend the justice that she deserves.

“Shafilea was a caring, high-spirited and brave young lady who, even in her toughest times, always strived to remain positive and hopeful that she too would one day be able to live the peaceful and happy life she deserved.

“Shafilea was an amazing friend who no matter what her situation was would always strive to look out for others.

“Shafilea had a great sense of humour, a fun personality and a great smile and although a cliched saying, she really could light up a room with her presence.

“I believe I speak for many when I say she is, and always will be, sadly missed.

“If there is one thing we pray will come from this is that her beautiful face and tragic story will inspire others to seek help to make them realise that this kind of vile treatment – no matter what culture or background someone is from – is not acceptable and there is a way out.”

Every year on July 14, which is Shafilea’s birthday, a Day of Memory is held for victims of honour-based abuse.

This is a crime or incident deemed to have been committed to protect or defend the ‘honour’ of a family and community.

Shafilea Ahmed

Shafilea Ahmed

With an estimated 12 honour-based killings each year in the United Kingdom, the charity Karma Nirvana launched the Day of Memory in 2015 to remember the lives lost to this type of abuse.

On the annual day, John Dwyer, police and crime commissioner for Cheshire, said: “Today would have been Shafilea’s 36th birthday.

“Instead we commemorate her life, along with all other victims and survivors of honour-based violence.

“Nobody should fear living their life how they want to or be denied the freedoms that most of us take for granted.

“Honour-based violence is often under-reported and can be referred to as a ‘hidden crime’ because of this.

“I want to take this opportunity to encourage anyone who is experiencing or witnessing honour-based abuse to speak out.

“There are a number of charities and support networks available, but I would remind the public that 999 should always be the first contact if there is an immediate risk to life.

“Protecting vulnerable and at-risk people is a priority of mine, and I am committed to working alongside the force to ensure Cheshire Police continues to protect and serve our communities.”

If you believe someone you know is a victim of honour-based abuse, these are some of the warning signs to look out for.

These include acting withdrawn or upset, bruising or other unexplained physical injuries, depression, self-harm or attempted suicide, or unexplained absence or poor performance at work or school.

Other signs could be strictly controlled movements, family rows, running away from home or a family history of relatives going missing.