A resentful divorcee from Birmingham who set fire to her ex-husbands house, killing a sleeping woman, has been jailed for 14 years.
Nussrat Khatoon, aged 39 from Cheshunt Place in Kings Heath, was sentenced after admitting to manslaughter and reckless arson. Her accomplice, Tina Andrews, 30, from Camelot Way, Small Heath, was sentenced to 10 years on the same charges.
The deceased, Nusrat Begum, 36, had died from smoke inhalation and burns after the arson attack in November 2012.
Police said Khatoon, in a grudge against her ex-husband, had also damaged cars and thrown paint at the house in the weeks following her divorce in September.
Khatoon married in August 2012 divorcing just four weeks later. She then set about a catalogue of events where she damaged cars and threw paint at the house in Speedwell Road as well as making offensive phone calls. On one occasion, Khatoon had also followed the pair and assaulted her ex-husband.
On 5th November, Khatoon decided with her best friend and co-defendant Tina Andrews, to drive to a nearby road where the house could be seen, driving deliberately without their lights on so they wouldn’t draw attention to themselves. They walked across a park area and approached the house where they set fire to a plant pot outside the front door whilst there were four occupants in the house.
Three of the people could not get downstairs but managed to jump from the first floor into the garden causing serious injuries and broken bones. Nusrat Begum, aged 36, was asleep in one of the front bedrooms but was found in the rear bedroom by fire fighters.
She had tried to escape but was trapped inside the property; she died as a result of smoke inhalation and burns.
Nusrat had only been in the country for four months after travelling from Pakistan where her marriage had failed. Following a disagreement with her family she had gone to stay with her friend at Speedwell Road.
Khatoon and Andrews made no attempt to call emergency services and watched as the fire took hold of the house. The two women watched from down the road for a minute and a half before they left in Khatoon’s black BMW Coupe, which had been parked some way from the property.
A passing cyclist called the fire service and took a photo of the blaze on his phone, which enabled detectives to piece together the exact timings of when the fire was started and where the two women were.
Further investigation into the BMW showed the vehicle had made a short journey around the time the fire was set.
Khatoon was arrested later the same day and subsequently charged with manslaughter and reckless arson. Following her arrest, officers found key items in her car – paper rolls with cotton on it like a taper (thin candle), a fuel can and a lighter. The BMW ran on diesel but tests on the fuel can showed that it had petrol in it.
Detective Chief Inspector Sarbjit Johal, from the homicide investigation team, said: “Today’s sentences will hopefully provide some sense of closure for Nusrat’s family.
“Sadly Nusrat was caught up in circumstances totally unconnected to her and was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
“The fire, set by Khatoon and Andrews who knew people would have been trapped upstairs, turned into an impenetrable inferno.
“Khatoon was very resentful and angry and as a result of her and Andrews’ actions, a completely innocent woman died.”
Nusrat’s brother Gulfraz Ahmed said: “We had only recently been reunited with Nusrat as she had been estranged from us living in Pakistan. Only recently had we started to rebuild our relationship with her.
“The reason the fire was started had nothing to do with my sister so it is terrible that she has to pay the ultimate price.”