Mother and three children mistakenly killed in revenge arson attack, court hears


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The Independent Online

A mother and three children were killed when their home was mistakenly targeted in a reprisal attack for the fatal stabbing of a fitness coach seven hours earlier, a court has heard.

Members of an eight-strong gang poured petrol through the letterbox of the family home and set it alight killing Shehnila Taufiq, her daughter Zainab, 19, and sons Bilal, 17, and Jamal, 15, in September last year, a jury was told.

The house in Wood Hill, Leicester, was two doors away from the family home of one of the men accused of the fatal stabbing of Antoin Akpom, a few hours earlier.

The Taufiq family had no connection with that attack, said Richard Latham QC, counsel for the prosecution. "They simply got the wrong house - a tragedy," said Mr Latham.

The family were sleeping upstairs at the terrace home and were trapped by what firefighters said was "one of the most ferocious property fires they had attended".

“Nothing could be done for Shehnila and her children," he said. They all died in the fire.”

The eight defendants were friends of Mr Akpom, who died after being stabbed in the back during a confrontation with two teenagers – Hussain Hussain and Abdul Hakim - less than a mile from the scene of the fire on September 12 last year. Hussain was jailed for life last week and was told he would serve a minimum of 15 years behind bars for Mr Akpom’s murder, the jury at Nottingham Crown Court was told.

Four of the defendants for the arson attack went to the home of a friend of Mr Akpom, 20, in the hours after the murder. Joe French, who was with Mr Akpom when he died, told police that he remembered the men had talked about the fitness coach, a father who had a young son, the court was told.

He said that he recalled them saying: “We have to make him proud” and “we have to look after his son”, Mr Latham told the court.

Mr Hakim’s mother lived two doors down from the Taufiq family. The jury heard that the fire was set at 12.30am on 13 September - five and a half hours after Mr Akpom was pronounced dead in hospital.

The court was told the Ms Taufiq's husband, Dr Taufiq Sattar, a neurosurgeon working in Dublin, had spoken to his family from Ireland just an hour before the fire was set, the court heard.

He was in court as Mr Latham told the jury that there was "an evolving plan” which resulted in the eight being in the area just before the fire started and had acted together in a “retribution process” following the murder of Mr Akpom. They made off in two groups after the fire and met later in the centre of Leicester, the court was told.

"All the defendants were there and willing and able to give support to the enterprise," Mr Latham said. "If any one of them had been a mere spectator to this horrendous act, they would have wanted nothing more to do with it.”

Kemo Porter, 19, Tristan Richards, 22, Nathaniel Mullings, 19, Shaun Carter, 24, Jackson Powell, 20, Aaron Webb, 20, Aaron Jeffers, 21, and a 17-year-old youth who cannot be named for legal reasons, deny murdering the family. The case continues.