UK

Birkby house fire: Shahid Mohammed guilty of murdering eight people

Shahid Mohammed Image copyright West Yorkshire Police
Image caption Shahid Mohammed fled to Pakistan before a trial in 2003

A man has been found guilty of murdering eight members of the same family, whose home was set alight with petrol bombs while they slept.

Shahid Mohammed, 37, carried out the attack on the house in Huddersfield in 2002 with other men as part of a family dispute.

It left five children dead, along with their mother, uncle and grandmother.

Mohammed was found guilty of eight counts of murder after a trial at Leeds Crown Court.

He was also convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit arson with intent to endanger life.

The family were asleep in their home in Osborne Road, Birkby, when petrol was poured through the letterbox and petrol bombs were put through the window in the early hours of 12 May 2002.

Image copyright West Yorkshire Police
Image caption (L-R) Rab Nawaz Khan, father of the five children who died in the fire in Huddersfield, with Ateeqa Nawaz, Rabia Batool, Nafeesa Aziz (the children’s mother) and Tayyaba Batool

Mohammed claimed he had “only been the lookout” for the attack throughout his five-week trial.

But the court heard he carried it out because of a row over his sister Shahida Younis being in a relationship with Saud Pervez, who her family did not approve of.

Mohammed took part in the attack with Shaied Iqbal, who was convicted of eight counts of murder at a trial in 2003.

Jurors heard the pair were targeting Mohammed Ateeq-Ur-Rehman, who died in the blaze, because he had played an “active part” in maintaining the relationship between Ms Younis and Mr Pervez.

The eight members of the family who died in the fire:

  • Nafeesa Aziz, 35
  • Her five young daughters – Tayyaba Batool, three, Rabiah Batool, 10, Ateeqa Nawaz, five, Aneesa Nawaz, two, and Najeeba Nawaz, six months
  • Her brother – Mohammed Ateeq-ur-Rehman, 18
  • Their mother – Zaib-un-Nisa, 54

During the trial one surviving member of the family, Siddiqah Aziz, told how she managed to save her father from the inferno but was prevented from coming to the aid of other family members when she was met by a wall of flames.

Prosecutor Alistair MacDonald QC said: “All those who were upstairs were overwhelmingly likely to be trapped on the upper floors by the fire that rapidly developed once the petrol had been ignited.”

He said that the attack had been “carefully planned” and that as the men drove away from the scene, Mohammed said to Iqbal: “Did you see the way it went up?”

Image copyright West Yorkshire Police
Image caption The family had been asleep in their home in Birkby when it was targeted
Image caption The house was petrol bombed and fuel was poured through the letterbox

Mohammed was investigated by police at the time of the fire but skipped bail and fled to Pakistan in 2003.

He was detained in the country in 2015 and extradited to the UK in 2018.

Mohammed, of no fixed address, is due to be sentenced on Wednesday.

Two other men, Nazar Hussain and Shakiel Shazad, were found guilty at the 2003 trial of eight counts of manslaughter in relation to the fire.

Image caption Mohammed Shafique’s family was praised by police for its ‘dignity’

Speaking outside court, Mohammed Shafique, who survived the house fire but lost his mother, older sister and her five daughters, and his younger brother, said: “This will not bring back our loved ones.

“I hope he [Shahid Mohammed] doesn’t see the light of day.

“We have learned to live our lives without them, it has been very difficult. It has changed our lives, life will never be the same without them.

“Justice has been done, that’s how it feels [and] that’s the best we can expect.

“It brings some sort of closure to this.”

Det Ch Supt Nick Wallen said: “I am pleased to say that we have finally secured justice for the Chishti family, and Shahid Mohammed has been convicted for his involvement in this horrific incident, which claimed the lives of eight innocent people, five of who were children.

“This incident remains the biggest single event of multiple murders that West Yorkshire Police has investigated.”

He praised the family for showing “nothing but dignity”.

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Source: bbc.co.uk

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