Leicester house fire: No evidence that fire that killed mother and three children was 'revenge' for murder on nearby street

 

Crime Correspondent

A mother and her three teenage children killed in a house fire in Leicester were not involved in an earlier murder in the city, Police said today.

Shehnila Taufiq, her daughter and two sons were trapped in the bedrooms of their terraced home in Leicester when the fire broke out just after midnight on Friday.

Mrs Taufiq was heard shouting: “Please save my children,” as neighbours hurled bricks at the windows to help them escape.

Despite the efforts of firefighters, neither she nor her children – named by the local mosque as Zainab, 19,  Bilal, who is thought to have been 17, and Jamal, thought to be 15, were able to escape the blaze. One neighbour broke down the door of the house and two men tried to get inside, but they were beaten back by the heat.

Leicestershire Police had been investigating whether the fire was a revenge attack following the murder of a man half a mile away on Thursday afternoon.

The man in his 20s, named locally as Antoin Akpom, was found injured by police officers in Kent Street. He was taken to hospital where he later died. A man and two women, all aged 19, have been arrested in connection with the murder.

However, Roger Bannister, Assistant Chief Constable of Leicestershire Police, said today that there was no reason to believe that the family were in any way involved in the murder.

"While we are investigating links between the two crimes there is absolutely no evidence to suggest those who died in the fire, or indeed anyone else who lives in that property, was involved in the assault in Kent Street.

"Because of the close proximity - in terms of time and location - of the two incidents, it is right that we look at whether there are links between the two crimes. However, at this stage in our investigations we have found nothing to suggest the residents of the house devastated by the fire had anything to do with the Kent Street incident.

"We have three people in custody in relation to the murder of the young man in Kent Street and we continue with the complex forensic investigations at Wood Hill.

"However, we know there are local people who know more about both incidents and the people responsible and we would appeal to their consciences. Two families have been devastated by events of the past 48 hours. Please help us to find those responsible."

Ms Taufiq’s husband Dr Muhammad Taufiq Al Sattar, a neurosurgeon, was being comforted by the community tonight after being told of the deaths. Neighbours said the family had recently moved to Leicester.

Friends described the family as academic, humble and devout Muslims who were popular in the community. One suggested that they may have been  the victims of mistaken identity, if it is proved that the fire was indeed a revenge attack. Leicestershire Pol- ice said that neither the family nor the man who died was known to them. 

“Most people feel this was meant for somebody else and they got the wrong house,” said a neighbour who did not want to be named.

“The family were very well-educated. He was a brain surgeon in Ireland and he brought his family over here to study Islamic literature. The lads were very pious and one of them was memorising the Koran and was on the ninth chapter,” he said. They attended the Jame Mosque about a hundred yards from their home where several members of the family were enrolled on an educational programme.

Imam Ibrahim Mogra, the assistant secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain who is based in Leicester, said: “The mother was a scholar herself. Clearly they were a family that was into religion and education and they were held in very high esteem by the local community.”

Dr Sattar had been working as a consultant neurosurgeon at the Beaumont Hospital in Dublin and also at the Blackrock and Hermitage private clinics in the city.

“The board and staff of Beaumont Hospital have learnt, with shock, of the tragic loss suffered by our colleague Mr Taufiq Sattar ,” a spokesman said yesterday.

“We wish to express our sincere condolences to Mr Sattar and assure him that our support and thoughts are with him at this terrible time.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...