Wednesday 18 September 2019

Trio guilty of murdering five people in arson bomb attack for insurance scam

Guilty of murder: Hawkar Hassan, Arkan Ali and Aram Kurd. Photo credit: Leicestershire Police/PA Wire
Guilty of murder: Hawkar Hassan, Arkan Ali and Aram Kurd. Photo credit: Leicestershire Police/PA Wire

Matthew Cooper

Three men who killed five people in a "bomb-like" shop blast have been convicted of murder and plotting to claim a €330,000 insurance pay-out.

Arkan Ali, Hawkar Hassan and Aram Kurd used more than 20 litres of petrol in an arson attack on Kurd's supermarket, causing an explosion that completely destroyed the shop and a flat above it.

Leicester Crown Court in the UK was told how some residents living near the Polish supermarket on Hinckley Road, Leicester, thought a bomb had reduced the property to rubble.

A five-week trial was told the defendants left shop worker Viktorija Ijevleva (22) to die in the building because she was aware of the insurance policy taken out less than three weeks earlier.

Prosecutor David Herbert QC told a jury of seven women and five men the defendants intended to maximise the damage to the premises and "would have known" people would have been in the two-storey flat above.

Ali (38), Hassan (33) and Kurd (34) were helped by a Kurdish interpreter throughout the trial after denying murder and alternative counts of manslaughter.

But they were unanimously found guilty of five counts of murder after 11 hours and 26 minutes of deliberations.

The trio were also convicted of conspiring with Ms Ijevleva to make a gain, by dishonestly pursuing an insurance claim in respect of the fire.

Ms Ijevleva, Mary Ragoobeer (46), her teenage sons Shane and Sean, and 18-year-old Leah Beth Reek, who was Shane's girlfriend, were all killed in the blast on Sunday, February 25.

Around 26 litres of petrol was used to start the fire in the basement of the supermarket, triggering a massive explosion at 7.01pm.

CCTV and traffic camera footage shows people escaping from a nearby takeaway moments after the explosion and rubble being blasted into the road as cars pass by.

Footage recovered by police from a neighbouring business showed Ali in shot three days before the blast - moments before the camera angle was moved.

Further images from the same CCTV unit a day before the fire showed a gloved hand moving the camera angle again - at a time when all three defendants were nearby.

The trio will be sentenced in mid-January.

Irish Independent

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