Lancashire

Four men jailed for life over Blackburn arson murders

Four men have been jailed for life for murdering a couple when they set fire to the wrong house in what was intended to be a so-called honour killing.

Abdullah and Aysha Mohammed were killed when petrol was poured through the letter box of their house in Blackburn and set alight last October.

The group's intended target lived in a house further down the same street.

Hisamuddin Ibrahim, 21, who planned the attack, was jailed for a minimum of 28 years at Preston Crown Court.

Habib Iqbal, 25, Sadek Miah, 23, and Mohammed Miah, 19, were jailed for minimum terms of 25, 21 and 19 years.

They were convicted of murdering the couple on Monday.

'Cruel irony'

Sentencing the four, who are all from east London, Mr Justice Henriques said: "These were shocking and terrible murders.

"Two persons died; but for the speedy response of the emergency services it may well have been four or more.

"It is a most cruel irony that two such devout members of the community, both deeply religious, should have lost their lives to such a perverted and wicked act."

He added: "It was intended to punish a man for committing adultery, swearing on the Koran he had not done so and then continuing to commit adultery.

"It is nearly impossible to imagine a worse case of arson than this.

"You have wreaked devastation on a blameless, devout family.

"They just happened to live at an address one digit removed from your intended target."

Det Supt Neil Hunter, of Lancashire Police, said: "I am pleased with the sentences handed out by the judge and feel that they are proportionate to the wicked crime committed by these evil men.

'Horrific ordeals'

"No prison sentence can ever bring Mr and Mrs Mohammed back but I hope that today can bring some closure to the family and assist with their grieving process."

He continued: "The family have conducted themselves with such dignity over the past 10 months, despite going through the most horrific ordeals. We will continue to support the family for as long as they need it."

Image caption Abdullah Mohammed died on the night of the fire

The trial was told how Ibrahim wanted to punish a man who was having an affair with his married sister, Hafija Gorji, and ordered the three other defendants to drive from London to start a fire at the man's terraced home in the early hours while he was asleep.

The target lived at 135 London Road but the trio set fire to the Mohammeds' home at 175.

Mr and Mrs Mohammed were overcome by smoke and fumes which rapidly engulfed their terraced home after the attack on 21 October.

Mr Mohammed, 41, called 999 at about 0120 GMT and told an operator there was a fire at his home and he could not breathe.

The fire spread through the hallway and the smoke engulfed the upstairs of the house.

Mr Mohammed was found unconscious in his bedroom along with his wife, 39, and two of their three children.

He died that night and his wife died a week later. Their children, aged nine and 14, survived.

Ibrahim, of Shelly Avenue, London was also ordered to pay £32,500 prosecution costs and £25,000 defence costs.

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