Berkshire

Maidenhead fire trial told of 999 call

A woman made a desperate 999 call in the minutes before she died in an arson attack in Berkshire, a court has heard.

Saimah Ali, 23, was sleeping when six litres of petrol was poured on to the front door of the house in Maidenhead and set alight last June, jurors heard.

Fifteen other people, including eight children, were in the property at the time but most escaped unharmed.

Navera Ahmed, her boyfriend Kanwarpal Singh, both 18, and Amaar Najib, 20, all deny five charges including murder.

Ms Ali, who had been sleeping in a bedroom at the top of the building, was trapped and could not be reached by firefighters, the court heard.

She had been the first to alert emergency services to the fire in Moor Lane on 25 June, Reading Crown Court was told.

'Fire bomb'

Prosecutor Ben Gumpert said: "There are agonising accounts of the chaos inside 3 Moor Lane as the desperate occupants tried to get out, given by the various adults in the house.

"Perhaps most poignantly of all, the first 999 call which was made to the emergency services after the fire had caught hold came from the mobile phone which belonged to Saimah Ali.

"That call has been listened to by another member of the family and her voice can be identified as being the caller."

A neighbour described hearing a loud bang like a "fire bomb" after the petrol was lit.

CCTV footage was played to the jury in which a sudden blast of light can be seen, which the prosecution said was the fire being lit.

The court heard there was no clear motive for the killing.

Instead, Mr Gumpert said, there were "various strands of ill-feeling" but that "the prosecution does not set out to establish a definite motive for this act".

It is alleged Mr Najib started the fire, with Miss Ahmed and Mr Singh being involved.

None of them deny being at the scene, but Mr Najib and Mr Singh blame each other, with all three saying they had no idea the petrol was going to be used to start a house fire.

Miss Ahmed and Mr Singh, both of Rochfords Gardens, Slough, Berkshire, and Mr Najib, of Wexham Road, Slough, deny all the charges.

The trial continues.

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