Doctor's family killed 'in revenge attack on wrong house', court told
An innocent family perished in a petrol-fuelled blaze at their home when it was mistakenly targeted in a revenge attack, a court has heard.
Shehnila Taufiq (47), daughter Zainab (19) and sons Bilal (17) and Jamal (15) died when a fire engulfed their house in Leicester, England, in the early hours of September 13 last year.
The family previously lived in Ireland and Ms Taufiq's husband, consultant neurosurgeon Dr Muhammed Taufiq Sattar, survived because he was working in Dublin at the time.
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, each deny murdering the family.
Opening the case against the eight defendants in their trial at Nottingham Crown Court yesterday, prosecutor Richard Latham told the jury the fire was a "retribution process" for the fatal stabbing of their friend, Antoin Akpom, hours earlier.
Mr Latham told the jury the Taufiq family had no connection to the incident involving Mr Akpom or the eight defendants. He said: "They simply got the wrong house – a tragedy."
The court heard that Mr Akpom had been stabbed in the back in a "confrontation" involving two 19-year-olds, Hussain Hussain and Abdul Hakim, at around 5.30pm on September 12, less than a mile away in Kent Street. He was pronounced dead in hospital at 7pm.
Hussain was jailed for life with a minimum term of 15 years for Mr Akpom's murder following a trial at Stafford Crown Court earlier this month.
The jury was told that Hakim's mother lived two doors down from the arson attack on the Taufiq family home.
The jury heard that the fire was set at 12.30am on September 13 – five-and-a-half hours after Mr Akpom was pronounced dead in hospital.
Mr Latham told the court the fire was started when petrol was poured through the letterbox of the Taufiqs' home and ignited. The blaze took hold at the bottom of the staircase, trapping the family who were asleep upstairs.
Firefighters who attended the blaze described it as "one of the most ferocious property fires they had attended", Mr Latham told the jury.
"Nothing could be done for Shehnila and her children. They all died in the fire."
Dr Taufiq Sattar sat in the public gallery of the court yesterday. He had spoken to his family just an hour before the fire was set, Mr Latham said.
Mr Latham claimed there was "an evolving plan which resulted in all eight being in Wood Hill moments before the fire".
He alleged the defendants were all present when the fire started and had "acted in concert".
Following the attack, the prosecutor alleged the defendants made off in two groups before meeting up later in the centre of Leicester.
"If any one of them had been a mere spectator to this horrendous act, they would have wanted nothing more to do with it," Mr Latham said.
The court heard Mullings, Webb, Powell and Jeffers went to the home of Joe French after Mr Akpom's stabbing.
Mr French, who had been with father-of-one Akpom when he was stabbed, told police he remembered "we have to make him proud" and "we have to look after his son" being mentioned during their visit, Mr Latham told the jury.
The trial was adjourned until 10am tomorrow.