A Northern Irish Muslim convert whose abusive husband allegedly left Britain to fight for Islamic State told jurors she would never have taken her three young children to join him, saying: “They mean the world to me.”
Lorna Moore, 33, denied knowing teacher Sajid Aslam, 34, was going to set off for Syria while she was away on a family trip to Butlins in Skegness in August 2014.
She told her Old Bailey trial that she would “never” put her children in danger and called on her husband to “grow a pair” and come back to Britain to explain himself.
Moore, who is originally from Omagh, Northern Ireland, told how she met Aslam when they were in the same university halls of residence.
She converted to Islam and they married three years later, going on to have three children aged 10, nine and three.
Soon after the birth of their first child, she said Aslam changed and became verbally and physically abusive towards her, calling her a “f****** fat bitch”.
She told jurors: “He started swearing. He pushed me into a pavement. He would grab me by the hair and put my face into the toilet and say ‘Does that look clean to you?’ He never left marks.”
In 2010, Moore went to police to ask them to help evict him from the family house but they could not help, the court heard.
She said: “I had got to the point where I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I had been pleading with him to leave voluntarily.
“I went to Walsall police station and they basically said there was a thing called squatter’s rights and they had no authority to go in and drag him out and if I wanted him out they suggested changing the locks.”
Two weeks later, she locked him out and he stayed with his mother for the next six months until Moore went to a Muslim cleric to ask for a divorce.
On the cleric’s instructions, she said: “He said I should be grateful. He said just because I was a white Muslim did not make me a special Muslim and I had to take him back in the house. I was devastated.”
Aslam returned but they did not live as a couple, apart from a brief reconciliation when their third child was conceived.
In November 2014, Moore returned from a trip to visit family in Ireland to the “nightmare” of police searching her home.
She said her older children were “scared” and “confused” about what was going on while her “little one was crying”.
She told the jury that she had always co-operated with the police inquiries, saying: “I wanted to help them.”
Defence lawyer Rag Chand said: “The prosecution case is you were intending to leave for good - is that true?”
Moore replied “No” and pointed out that she had just paid £4,500 for a teaching course.
On her children, the lawyer asked: “Would you take them to Syria? Would you ever put their lives in danger?”
Moore replied: “Never.”
Quizzing her about police interviews, the lawyer said: “You are asked about the last communication with Sajid Aslam. You say if he is innocent and got nothing to hide, he should grow a pair. What did you mean?”
Moore replied: “Exactly that. He has got three kids here. He knows surely, if he had any concern for the kids and he is innocent, the first thing he would do would be to get on a plane and explain to the police.”
She added: “I hate him for the things he has done to the kids.”
Moore, from Walsall, West Midlands, denies failing to tell authorities about Aslam’s plan to join IS in Syria.
Moore told jurors that she had a job as a project manager for NCT - National Childhood Trust - which involved working with British Army wives.
The defendant, who was brought up by protestant parents, said she considered IS to be a “terrorist organisation”.
She said she was only with Aslam “for the sake of the children”, and he had even joined the online introduction agency singlemuslim.com
Moore said she had always worked and looked after the children, while her husband was more interested in computer games than helping.
Moore’s mother Katherine told jurors her daughter had been planning to move back to Northern Ireland with the children after completing her teacher training in 2015.
But during her visit in November 2014, the defendant brought forward the move to Christmas.
Mrs Moore explained to court that her daughter had become “depressed” about the difficulties of her course and looking after her children.
In the end, she abandoned the plan because she thought it could be “misconstrued”.
Mrs Moore said: “She felt that it would be misconstrued if she did not go back.
“Police were still asking her questions. She thought ‘I have to go back and face what I have to face’ and that’s the reason she did not stay.”
She described her daughter as “very dutiful”, “patient” and a “very good mother”.
She would bring her three children to Ireland for Christmas every year, but without Aslam, who found life on their farm “boring”.
Mrs Moore said her son-in-law could be “impatient” and “unkind” towards her daughter, and added he missed the birth of his second child because he had shrugged it off as “another false alarm”.