A mother and her three children, who were killed in an arson attack last year, were the victims of a mistaken crime which was supposed to be targeted at the family’s neighbour, a court has been told.
Shehnila Taufiq, along with her 19-year-old daughter Zainab, and sons Bilal, 17, and Jamal, 15, all died in the blaze at their family home in Leicester in September 2013.
Hours earlier, a fitness coach, called Antoin Akpom, was fatally stabbed in the city and the resulting fire was allegedly started by an eight-strong gang who were seeking revenge for their friend.
Petrol was mistakenly poured through Ms Taufiq’s letterbox, in Wood Hill, Leicester, before being set ablaze, with the intended recipient’s home two doors further down.
The Taufiq family had ‘no connection’ with that attack, said Richard Latham QC, counsel for the prosecution. Adding: “They simply got the wrong house - a tragedy.”
The family were sleeping upstairs at the terrace home when the fire broke out and were trapped by what firefighters said was ‘one of the most ferocious property fires they had attended’.
“Nothing could be done for Shehnila and her children,” they said. “They all died in the fire.”
The eight defendants were friends of Mr Akpom, who died after being stabbed in the back during a confrontation with two teenagers – Hussain Hussain and Abdul Hakim - less than a mile from the scene of the fire.
Hussain was jailed for life last week and was told he would serve a minimum of 15 years behind bars for Mr Akpom’s murder, the jury at Nottingham Crown Court was told.
In retaliation, the group of Mr Akpom’s alleged friends retaliated through setting fire to what they believed was Mr Hakim’s mother’s home.
“All the defendants were there and willing and able to give support to the enterprise,” Mr Latham said at Nottingham Crown Court.
“If any one of them had been a mere spectator to this horrendous act, they would have wanted nothing more to do with it.”
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, deny murdering the family. The case continues.