Family of four died as part of suspected botched revenge attack over the murder of Leicester sports teacher Antoin Akpom, court told


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The Independent Online

A family of four died inside their burning home after a suspected botched revenge attack hours after the murder of a young fitness instructor in an unrelated turf feud, a court has heard.

Shehnila Taufiq, 47, her teenage sons Jamal and Bilal and daughter Zainab, 19, died after their home in Leicester was targeted for an arson attack in what prosecutors said could have been a case of mistaken identity following the murder five-and-a-half hours earlier. The Taufiq family had no connection with the earlier incident.

The family lived just two doors from the mother of a teenager accused of murdering Antoin Akpom, 20, after the pair had been involved in a year-long but unspecified dispute. Stafford Crown Court heard that the pair was involved in a heated confrontation in the street before Mr Akpom returned with nine other men from his local gym.

CCTV cameras caught the moments before and after Mr Akpom fought with Mr Hakim and his friend, Hussain Hussain, but missed the vital 15 seconds when the instructor was knifed fatally in the back and suffered a punctured lung.

The two men fled the scene and travelled to London in a taxi on the night of the attack but Mr Hakim was captured at Kings Cross Station 24 hours later, the court heard.

Mr Hakim, who told officers that he sometimes carried a knife for his own protection, said in a police interview was travelling back to Leicester because he had “heard about the fire on my street,” the court was told.

“At 12.30am that night, five-and-a-half hours after Akpom had died, there was an arson attack outside the front door of a family who lived in Leicester but two doors away from Hakim mother's home,” said Richard Latham QC, counsel for the prosecution.

“The fire caused the deaths of the four occupants of that home. The tragic case is that the occupants had nothing to do with the [earlier] incident.

“If it had anything to do with the stabbing, they got the wrong house. It was a ghastly, ghastly event,” said Mr Latham.

Mr Latham said those suspected of committing the arson attack would go on trial in a few weeks at another court.

Mr Hakim and Mr Hussain have both been charged for murder under the law of joint of enterprise even though prosecutors say that they believe that Mr Hussain inflicted the fatal blow.

In interviews with police, both men accepted that they were at the scene of the fight but blamed each other for the attack.

Mr Hussain said in his statement that his co-defendant had told him that he had stabbed the victim because he was scared of getting hurt. Mr Hussain told police that Mr Akpom had been unhappy because Mr Hakim was “walking in his area”.

But Mr Hakim said he never saw a knife during the confrontation and told police where they could find Mr Hussain's top that he discarded as they fled the scene. Mr Latham told the court that the pair travelled together to London but split up the following day.

Mr Hussain took a taxi to Potters Bar where he collected a brown packet containing £3-4,000, the court heard. He told the driver that he planned go abroad for a couple of months until the heat died down because the police were after him, the jury of eight men and four women were told.

The driver took him to Stansted Airport where he tried to buy an EasyJet ticket but did not have any travel documents. He was told he could fly to Scotland but did not like the idea, the court heard, and instead took a £200 taxi journey to Cardiff where he was arrested more than two weeks after Mr Akpom's killing.

The two men, who are separated in the dock by a security officer, deny murder.

The case continues.