A carpenter repairs a cricket bat at his workshop in Islamabad, Pakistan, February 22, 2017.
A carpenter repairs a cricket bat at his workshop in Islamabad, Pakistan, February 22, 2017. Reuters/Faisal Mahmood

An English cricketer has been spared jail after beating his ex-wife because he claimed to have a contract with Leicestershire County Cricket Club. Mustafa Bashir attacked Fakhara Karim with a cricket bat and forced bleach into her mouth. However, a judge at a Manchester Court declined to give him a jail sentence and instead told him to attend a workshop.

Bashir, 34, pleaded guilty to two counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm. It was heard in court that he would often taunt the victim about her Westernised clothing, call her a derogatory term, and try to turn her against her own family.

Prosecutor Roger Brown told the court that on New Year’s Eve of 2014, Bashir slapped Karim so hard in their living room that she fell on the floor and lost consciousness. When she woke up, she told him, “It’s over. Please leave me alone.” However, Bashir instead called her a slag and then strangled her to death until she had trouble breathing.

He then grabbed a cricket bat in a bedroom and hit her over the back with it. “If I hit you with this bat with my full power, then you would be dead,” Bashir told his wife, as Brown had recounted in court.

Karim told police that she was a “confident, active and humorous person” before meeting her then-husband. She said he had left her fearing for her life. Her confidence took a dive, and she had hidden herself away from her family and friends. “Once we split, it took months for me to get my self-belief back, and I am not back to the person I was before,” she said in a statement. They married in 2013 after meeting in their native Pakistan.

Bashir’s lawyer asked for him not to be jailed so he could accept a place at the Leicestershire County Cricket Club. Hugh McKee said his client continued to play professionally in a local cricket league. Bashar apparently was about to sign a contract with Leicestershire when he was arrested.

And so instead of sentencing Bashir to jail, Judge Richard Mansell ordered him to attend a workshop because he was “not convinced” that Karim was a vulnerable person. According to the judge, Karim was “an intelligent woman with a network of friends” and a degree. He did not believe that she could be vulnerable even though he acknowledged that Bashir’s attacks on her had an “ongoing effect” on her ability to trust people.

Mansell ordered him to attend a “building better relationships” workshop, pay £ 1,000 (AU$1,623), and not to contact Karim indefinitely. He sentenced him to 18 months but suspended for two years.

LCCC denies contract with Bashir

According to Mansell, a prison sentence would have lost a contract with Leicestershire County Cricket Club (LCCC). However, the LCCC has denied it has ever been in contact with Bashir.

“The club are bemused by these stories,” a spokesman for LCCC said (via The Sun). “Any references to Mustafa Bashir signing or being approached to sign for Leicestershire County Cricket Club are completely false. The club have never spoken to Mustafa Bashir or an agent, nor offered a contract to the player.”

The club’s legal team has contacted the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to complain, with its chief executive giving a statement to say they were “appalled” that Bashir falsely claimed to have been given a job offer from them to evade a prison sentence. The CPS is investigating the case.

Complaints against the judge’s soft sentencing

British MPs Jess Phillips (Labour) and Maria Miller (Conservative) have spoken out against the judge’s decision not to send Bashir to prison. They said they would write to the attorney general.

“The brutality of the sort of acts that have been outlined really make me believe that this was a devastating episode in the victim’s life,” Miller, chair of the Women and Equalities Select Committee, told BBC. “I do think this needs to be properly understood by judges and it needs to be properly accounted for in sentencing.”

Karim herself was disappointed in the judge’s comments about her vulnerability. She told BBC that she’s a confident and strong woman because “of what I have suffered,” adding that the judge did not believe her when she said she was suffering for her life.