Man bragged of arson that killed eight, court told

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The Independent Online

One of three men accused of murdering eight members of a family in an arson attack bragged of his involvement within hours of the assault, a court heard yesterday.

Shaied Iqbal, 26, said "shit happens" as he boasted to a friend in a branch of McDonald's that he had thrown away his mobile phone and arranged an alibi for the attack on the terraced house in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, on 12 May last year, prosecutors claimed.

Nafeeza Aziz, 35, her brother, Mohammed Ateeq-ur-Rehman, 18, and her five daughters - Tayyaba Batool, 13, Rabia Batool, 10, Ateeqa Nawaz, six, Aneesa Nawaz, two, and Najeeba Nawaz, six months - all died in the fire, which started after petrol was poured through the letterbox and Molotov cocktails were thrown through the windows.

The grandmother of three of the children, Zaib-un-Nisa, 54, died in hospital from injuries sustained when she tried to escape by jumping from an upstairs window.

Aziz and her daughters had been visiting England to see her father, Abdul Aziz Chishti, 59. Her husband, Rab Nawaz-Khan, had stayed in Pakistan.

A jury at Leeds Crown Court heard Mr Chishti and another of his daughters, Siddiquah, 27, had watched helplessly as the victims perished.

Paul Worsley QC, prosecuting, said: "Almost an entire family was wiped out by the fire, a fire which was deliberately started at their home. Those inside never stood a chance. They were asleep, they had no warning. Siddiquah ran outside where her father was. They could both hear the children screaming in terror ... The scene was one of utter terror and panic."

The court heard that Mr Iqbal, from Huddersfield, who faces eight counts of murder with Nazar Hussain, 24, and Shakiel Shazad, 31, also from Huddersfield, made little effort to conceal his actions when the friend in the fast food restaurant mentioned the attack. All three deny the charges.

Mr Worsley said: "Iqbal admitted that he, together with others, had been involved. His attitude was cocky. He was laughing and making a joke of it." It is claimed that when his friend asked whether he had killed the children, Mr Iqbal said: "I didn't mean it to happen but I can't change it now."

The court heard that the attack may have been provoked by a perceived slight from Ateeq-ur-Rehman, who told a friend that Mr Iqbal was going out with a girl whose family were not aware of the relationship. Mr Worsley said: "It appears that Iqbal was very angry with Ateeq."

The court was told the fingerprints of Mr Shazad and Mr Hussain were on a petrol can found in the next street within an hour of the fire starting.

The trial continues.