Husband of woman who vanished five years ago launches appeal
Husband whose ‘happy’ wife strolled out of the family home five years ago with NO prior warning and never came back launches fresh appeal for information – and shares a CCTV image of a woman in Brighton who could be her
- Fatima Mohamed-Ali, 52, disappeared in Newhaven, Sussex, in February 2016
- Her husband Mohamed came back from work to discover she had gone missing
- Ahead of the fifth anniversary, Mohamed is launching a fresh appeal
- Shared CCTV footage from 2017 that could show Fatima on streets of Brighton
The husband of a woman who vanished without a trace five years ago has launched a fresh appeal for information and shared a CCTV image of a suspected sighting in the hope of finding answers.
Fatima Mohamed-Ali, then 52, was last seen walking down a street near her family home in Newhaven, East Sussex, on the morning of 12 February 2016.
Her husband Mohamed returned home from work to find the house empty – and immediately knew something was wrong.
‘As I entered the home, there was no noise,’ he recalled in a new interview with the Missing Podcast. ‘Usually she would be in the kitchen cooking or there would be the TV playing or music playing. After being married for 38 years, you know.’
He called through the house and searched upstairs. When he came back down he realised Fatima had left her phone, car keys and purse behind and left no sign as to where she had gone.
Fatima, a grandmother and mother-of-three, has not been seen since.
Ahead of the fifth anniversary of his wife’s disappearance, Mohamed is retelling his story in the hope of finally finding answers to the questions that have plagued him and his family.
Searching for answers: Fatima Mohamed-Ali, then 52, was last seen walking down a street near her family home in Newhaven, East Sussex, on the morning of 12 February 2016. Ahead of the fifth anniversary of his wife’s disappearance, Mohamed is retelling his story. Pictured, Fatima and Mohamed. The couple had been married for 38 years when Fatima disappeared
Is this Fatima? Mohamed has also shared a possible sighting of Fatima – taken from CCTV near a Brighton bus stop in August 2017 – in the hope it might jog someone’s memory. It was originally shared in 2018 after an ex-colleague came forward to say she had seen Fatima
He has also shared the last possible sighting of Fatima – taken from CCTV near a Brighton bus stop in August 2017 – in the hope it might help the search.
‘It’s not very clear but I looked time and time and time again and there are certain features that I think look like her,’ Mr Mohamed-Ali said. ‘It’s probably me thinking it is her because I want it to be her… But there is no shot of the face so it could be anybody.’
Mohamed and Fatima, who was described as quiet and reserved, first met as children in Tanzania. They lost contact in 1975 when Mohamed moved to the UK to study.
Seven years later, on a trip back home to see his parents, Mohamed and Fatima were re-introduced and the pair married. They returned to the UK and settled initially in Hove, near Mohamed’s brother in Brighton, and went on to welcome three children.
‘We were the only Asian’s in the village and everybody loved us,’ he said. ‘People used to admire her because she always used to walk out in traditional dress. She looked beautiful.’
A consummate hostess, Fatima enjoyed cooking for friends, family and guests.
Last sighting: Three days after Fatima was last seen, police turned up CCTV footage of her walking down a residential street 15 minutes away (pictured). She walked past the camera at around 8am on 12 February, just minutes after Mohamed had left for work
‘Fatima was a very strong person,’ Mohamed said. ‘I wouldn’t be where I am without her. She was a very tough, a very loving lady. Considering she was only 5ft 2in, she was a gutsy lady.’
The morning of 12 February 2016 was ordinary in every way. Fatima woke up first, did her morning prayers and woke her husband to tell him to come down for the breakfast she had prepared.
She worked as an electronics assembler at Brightwell Dispensers from Monday-Thursday but did not work on a Friday so it was her day off.
Can YOU help find Fatima Mohamed-Ali?
Date of Disappearance: 12 February 2016
Age at time of disappearance: 52
Last known whereabouts: Newhaven, East Sussex
Who can help:
- Did you see Fatima on the morning of February 12th? Or someone matching her description in or around Newhaven?
- Do you have any information that might indicate why Fatima may have left her home that morning?
- Do you recognise the image – believed to possibly be Fatima – captured in Brighton in 2018?
More information on the Missing Podcast website here.
Mohamed left for work early, making a detour to the local post office en route to pick up a Valentine’s Day gift he had ordered for his wife.
At 1pm Mohamed returned home and expected to find his wife busy in the kitchen.
He phoned his daughter and she suggested he try the local hair salon, in case Fatima had booked in for a last-minute appointment. But they hadn’t seen her.
‘I went back to the house, called my daughter again and said: “Something is not right”,’ Mohamed recalled. ‘I called Fatima for a second time and I could hear a ringing sound upstairs in the bedroom. I went up and saw her phone. I thought, “there is definitely something wrong here now”.’
Mohamed went straight to the police.
Within 24 hours Sussex Police had launched an extensive search involving helicopters and taking in the nearby towns and coastline. Detectives also searched the property and looked into Mr Mohamed-Ali’s movements to verify his story.
A fingerprint of an unknown man was found at the family home but it did not match anyone in the police database.
A breakthrough finally came three days later when police turned up CCTV footage of Fatima walking down a residential street 15 minutes away.
She walked past the camera at around 8am on 12 February, just minutes after Mohamed had left for work.
‘She showed no signs of stress, no mental issues, no tears, nothing,’ Mohamed said, recalling his wife’s behaviour that morning. He also insisted there was nothing unusual in the days and weeks leading up to her disappearance.
The CCTV footage suggested Fatima had left the house alone and was not under any duress. However it did not help narrow down where she had gone.
The road she was on led to the sea but turning left and right would have taken Fatima to another coastal town.
Mohamed and the rest of his family have been forced to contemplate the prospect that Fatima might have continued down that road to the sea and had taken her own life.
Gone without a trace: Fatima Mohamed-Ali, pictured before her disappearance
‘Did she go to the sea? Did she jump off a cliff?,’ he asked, but added: ‘Being the way she was, being so religious, she knew it was against all religion to take your own life.’
For the two years after Mrs Mohamed-Ali’s disappearance, Mohamed didn’t go to work and hardly left the house. He told how he stopped eating regularly and lost 4st.
But then in August 2017, some 18 months after Fatima was last seen, a former colleague contacted the police to say she thought she had seen Fatima running for a bus in Brighton, just nine miles away.
CCTV footage released by police shows a woman dressed in dark colours waving her arms as she rushes down the pavement at 5.58pm on 7 August.
Mr Mohamed-Ali has re-released the CCTV image in the hope it might help establish whether or not it was his wife.
Anyone who has any information about Fatima or the woman in the CCTV footage is asked to come forward. More information can be found on the Missing Podcast website.
Mr Mohamed-Ali added: ‘On 12 February 2012, we lost a good wife, a mother and a grandmother,’ he said. ‘If anybody is out there, please help us.’
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