Berkshire

Maidenhead arson murderer jailed for life

Amaar Najib
Image caption Najib was arrested at Birmingham International Airport after buying a one-way ticket to Pakistan

A man has been jailed for life for murdering a woman who was killed in an arson attack on her home.

Saimah Ali, 23, died in the blaze in Moor Lane, Maidenhead, in June last year after she became trapped in an attic room.

Amaar Najib, 20, of Slough, was found guilty at Reading Crown Court of murder and arson with intent to endanger life earlier this month.

The judge said Najib, of Wexford Road, must serve a minimum of 20 years.

He was sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment for murder and 15 years for arson with intent to endanger life, to be served concurrently.

'Unclear motive'

During the five-week trial the court heard that 15 others, including eight children, managed to escape the blaze by climbing out of windows.

They had spent the night at the house following a gathering the evening before.

Many climbed out onto an extension roof, while others were assisted down a ladder.

But Mrs Ali, who alerted the emergency services, was unable to escape and her body was later found in the attic area.

A post-mortem examination gave the cause of death as inhalation of smoke and fumes of combustion.

Firefighters feared the roof of the semi-detached house would collapse as it was so badly damaged.

During their investigation detectives found evidence that petrol had been bought from a petrol station in Bath Road, Taplow, about 20 minutes before the fire.

The jury heard six litres had been poured onto the front door of the house and set alight on 25 June.

Najib was arrested at Birmingham International Airport on 30 June, after buying a one-way ticket to Pakistan.

Police said the motive for the fire remains unclear.

Andy Mancey, from Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: "We are pleased that the person responsible for the tragic outcome of this fire has been brought to justice.

"As this case shows only too clearly, arson has a devastating impact.

"We will continue to work closely with police to assist them in prosecuting criminals who set deliberate fires, no matter how large or small."

Kanwarpal Singh and Navera Ahmed, both aged 18 and from Rochfords Gardens, Slough, also stood trial in connection with Mrs Ali's death and were acquitted of all charges earlier this month.

Najib was found not guilty of attempted murder while two alternative charges of manslaughter and arson being reckless as to whether life is endangered were dismissed.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites