Waiter found guilty of revenge murders

A waiter was today found guilty of helping his schoolboy cousin take revenge on his ex-girlfriend by murdering her in a house fire.

Shihabouddin Choudhury, 21, of Coventry Road, Nottingham, was recruited by 14-year-old Akmol Miah to help torch the home of Maleha Masud.



Maleha and her 21-year-old sister Nabiha died as as result of the blaze which took place in June last year in Tooting, south London.



Miah, now 15, of Broadway Avenue, Croydon, was convicted of their murders yesterday at the Old Bailey by a unanimous verdict, as well as the attempted murders of the girls' brothers Zain and Junaid, and mother Rubina.



Choudhury was today found guilty of the same counts by 11-1 majority.



Both face life sentences when they are sentenced on July 9.



A third defendant, 19-year-old waiter Rasal Khan, of Earl Howe Street, Leicester, was cleared of all the charges.



The court heard that the fire was started by petrol poured through the Masud family's letterbox in revenge after Miah was dumped by Maleha.



A day before he searched on Google for "how to burn someone's house down".



Zain, a 24-year-old banker, A-level student Junaid, 18, and mother Rubina, 55, survived the blaze but said they faced a "life sentence" of grief after the deaths of Maleha, the "baby of the family", and Nabiha, who was engaged to be married.

Mrs Masud wept as she said: "I miss them a lot."



Zain said: "It is hard to contemplate why anyone would do such a thing."



Maleha died three days after the fire and Nabiha a month later.



Junaid was rescued from the flames by firefighters while Zain and Mrs Masud leapt to safety from a first floor window,



Miah - who can be named today after reporting restrictions were lifted - wept as he was found guilty of the girls' murders yesterday.



The court heard he had previously threatened Maleha that if she did not continue their relationship he would "do something to her and her family".



Jonathan Laidlaw, QC, prosecuting, said that Maleha had been in a "relationship of sorts" with the boy, who was 14 at the time, but it was not a serious one.



"The two of them broke up and it was then that (the boy) threatened Maleha that if she did not continue in the relationship he would do something to her and her family," he added.



"Why he should arrive at the extraordinary decision to burn down their house is really impossible to understand. It was obviously not the reaction of an ordinary and normal 14-year-old, however hurt he might feel about losing a girlfriend."



After the fire, police said they were faced with a "real whodunit" but found out about Maleha's relationship with the boy after visits to schools and an appeal to the community by local Labour MP Sadiq Khan.



When the boy was arrested for murder he said: "I can't believe she is dead."



A search of the computer in his bedroom found he had looked up how to burn someone's house down on Google and that pictures of the burnt and boarded-up property had been downloaded from the news websites and stored as the screensaver.



The boy, who looked several years older than his 15 years, claimed in court he loved Maleha and he did not start the fire - although he said he had been jealous of her talking to other boys.



Judge Christopher Moss ordered psychiatric and psychological reports on Miah after expressing his concern at "the apparent confidence with which he appeared to give evidence".



"This is a young man who seems to me to be mature beyond his years," he said.



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

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?